Remaining sane in insane times.
Life today is often full of stress. All of us have some in our professional lives (even at Tivix!), plus our morning commute in traffic, or maybe a squabble with a partner. And while a small amount of stress is part of normal life, too much in the long run has a severe negative impact on our health.
You can’t avoid stress completely, but you can use it to your benefit. Everything depends on how you approach a stressful situation. Usually we respond to it reactively, which means acting automatically, not even being aware of it and letting the events set the agenda. But, hey, there is hope!
Here are some simple strategies and techniques you can use to manage your stress:
- Realize that most stressful situations aren’t as bad as you think. A Slavic proverb says: “Fear has big eyes”, meaning that in our imagination a difficult situation often looks much more stressful than it really is. Treat it as a task to do. Make an action plan, think it over, prepare yourself well and face it. You will certainly succeed. Or treat it as an inspiring challenge which will for sure improve your skills and teach you something new. Such approach will boost your energy and make you look forward to the action. Remember that even stepping out of your comfort zone makes your brain work more intensively and effectively, which puts on hold its aging.
- Talk about your emotions. It’s always helpful to talk with family or friends, let it off your chest, close the topic and do not come back to it (permanent complaining, so popular in my native country Poland, only increases negative energy and brings about more stress). It can even improve the relations with your dear ones, as sharing difficult issues makes people closer, strengthens the relationship and eliminates misunderstandings.
- Breathe. In ancient medicines like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine breath is the most powerful remedy. Breathe from the diaphragm, not from the upper parts of your body as it will only increase the agitation. Breathe slowly and deeply and try to exhale twice as longer as you inhale. You can also try out the alternate nostril breathing, nine cleansing breaths or a very simple rhythmic breath technique. They are very good for relaxing the entire nervous system, letting go of the emotions and calming the mind.
- Be mindful. Tivix co-founder Bret Waters wrote previously about how mindfulness has helped in his professional life. The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 and has helped thousands who have been suffering from stress-related disorders. Mindfulness practice cultivates greater awareness of the unity of mind and body, as well as of the ways the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can undermine emotional, physical, and spiritual health. To cut the long story short – give your mind a break and focus on now and here. You can do it by concentrating on your breath, which calms down the always-talking mind and the restless body. Then, you are able to consciously notice your thoughts and feelings and with this ability of seeing things in a wider and clearer perspective you can freely and effectively choose the most appropriate reactions to stressors. You don’t lose temper and are more in control.
- Get some exercise. If you don’t fancy sweating out in the gym or stretching out in yoga postures, go for a brisk walk. Get in touch with green and blue energy. Immerse in forests and other natural environments. In Japan it is called “shinrin yoku,” which translates to “forest bathing.”
- Relax your body. Reducing tension in your body reduces tension in your mind. Treat yourself to a good sleep, an aromatic massage, a delicious meal, sauna, a long bath by candlelight or just listen to your favourite music. Why not try Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation technique? Having a morning routine can also help you start the day peacefully. Ever wondered why Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs always wear/wore the same clothes? Not to stress their brain with the what-to-wear-today dilemmas, but to save energy for innovative thinking instead.
Last but not least – accept the things you can’t change. Practice love, gratitude and compassion.
Be the change you want to see in the world.