One of my ultimate favorite goofy movies is Clue. You remember…the board game we used to play when we were kids? (Okay, I just dated myself). The movie is a riot. At one point, Mrs. White, under extreme stress, starts talking about how she felt like burning hot flames were radiating from her face and head. I can’t say that I’ve had actual flames burst from my body, but I have certainly been so stressed I couldn’t see straight! I love the card that says on the cover “When I get stressed out, I take a hot bath.” You open the card to read “I’ve been in here since last Tuesday!” We can laugh about it, but stress isn’t a joking matter. In fact, it kills people every day. Women, for the first time in history, are having as many heart attacks as men. Stress related illness is on the rise. We are overloaded!
Don’t throw in the towel, though, and accept high amounts of stress. We can and must manage it. We are worth it, and we aren’t any good to anyone else if we burn out in a puff of smoke. Here are some suggestions for you. Please try at least one and commit to reducing your stress.
- Set boundaries at work AND at home, which means learn to say “no.”
- On the flip side, give yourself permission to say “yes” to those things you enjoy.
- Block out quiet time at work for planning and organizing your day.
- Carve out and protect quiet, reflective and/or prayer time at home.
- Take lots of hot baths, hit the hot tub or get a regular massage.
- Group like tasks together at work: make calls together, copies at one time, etc.
- Control technology! You don’t have to answer the phone all the time—that is what voice mail is for. You don’t have to read every Email the second it comes through.
- Get physical and work out that stress. Find something you enjoy (walking, tennis, swimming, kick boxing, whatever) and do it three times a week.
- Practice breathing. It’s amazing how we have done it since we were born, but we can do it all wrong. Take deep breaths from your gut, not your upper chest. Breath in through your nose and out your mouth through pursed lips. Repeat as necessary when you are really tense.
- Talk and write. Sharing with a friend or co-worker can immediately reduce your stress. Journaling at night can help rid your mind of those frustrating details.
- Relax. This means different things to different people, but try yoga, stretches, reading, napping, walking, long showers…even if it is brief.
- Reconcile or let go. One of the heaviest weights we carry is division or conflict among those we care about. Don’t carry it anymore. Deal with it one way or another.
- Smile and laugh more. You can’t be stressed and happy at the same time, so try having some fun.
For additional (101 to be exact!) ways to reduce your stress, get a copy of my book, A Healthier, Happier You!