Are you taking steps to manage your stress?

January 24, 2014
Kevin Farrington Team Leader

Recently, I spent an afternoon at an MRA training class, “Managing Stress Productively.”

As we start another year defining goals to improve our lives and the lives of those around us, I’d like you to consider one more goal.

Reducing and managing our stress.

For some, stress may feel inevitable, but until we truly understand what stress is, and where it originates, we’ll never be able to conquer it. The point is – all that stress is really all “in your head.” And for some, it can take nearly a lifetime to understand that …

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.  I’d relax more and would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. – Nadine Stair (85-year old), Louisville, Ky  “History of the message – I’d Pick More Daisies”

Before we manage stress, we need to understand it. Stress is our body’s natural reaction to any demand (positive or negative). Issues pertaining to family, finances, health, marriage or anything that causes concern can all be labeled as stressors. These issues are not stress, but rather something that causes our bodies to react with stress. This is an important distinction to make. With it, we can understand how to control the stress in our lives, because stress is a reaction.

What actions can you put in motion to make a positive change this new year?

A simple yet enlightening exercise we did during my session was labeling the things we do, and do not, have control over. Upon further discussion with the class, I was surprised to learn the only thing we actually have control over is how we conduct ourselves and how we react to our stressors. Whether we like to admit it or not, the rest of life is firmly out of our control. Does that mean issues like health and money are out of our control, so exercising and saving for retirement don’t make sense? No, not at all. Even though we can’t completely control these things, we can plan ahead in hopes of giving ourselves and our families the best chance of success in life.

There are stressors we face in our lives; not getting exercising, taking on too much at work or even something as simple as being too serious and not stopping to laugh.

Try thinking of five things that trigger stress in your life. Now, think what you can do to stop them!

How do you reduce stress?
I’m trying to employ these stress-reducing strategies in my life. Even just thinking about them gives me the opportunity to consider how I can make positive changes.

  1. Tune in to your body and emotions: Listen to your body. Our bodies produce physical symptoms that warn us we are under stress. Perhaps some of those persistent health issues you’re having are caused by the unrelenting stress you carry each day.
  2. Exercise regularly: We all know the benefits of exercise, so it’s simple – Just do it. It might not be ideal in the winter, but try parking farther away from work to make sure you at least get that walk to and from your car each day.
  3. Rest and renew your body: If yoga is your thing, then you’ve already got this part covered. If not, find something you’re at peace doing, an activity you enjoy so you can easily shut out life’s stressors for a while.
  4. Use the power of breath: Stand up straight, breathe through your nose and slowly inhale and exhale. Concentrate on a peaceful thought and give yourself time to control your physical stress reactions with controlled breathing techniques.
  5. Develop a support system: Find people you trust so you have an outlet in which you can express your fears, feelings and problems.
  6. Maintain balance: Your life consists of at least four unique but connected states: Physical, Social/Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. Neglect any of these too much and your ability to effectively monitor and control the stressors in your life is affected.
  7. Plan, don’t worry: Taking little steps each day to make your life less chaotic can add up. Set aside time each day to plan, solve problems and explore solutions. Remember, there are things you can’t control, but planning should give you the best possible chance of a positive outcome when life throws a curveball your way.

After attending this seminar, I’m focusing on learning from the experience so I can better face and manage the stress of a busy and active day. In the end, I’ll be more productive in serving our clients, a better communicator with my coworkers and overall … happier.

What actions can you put in motion to make a positive change this new year?

If none of these have caught your attention, then perhaps Bob Newhart’s “life coaching” advice in the video below may be more your style!

Enjoy and have a happy, less stressful New Year!
Kevin Farrington is an Account Executive at Core Creative.


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