Saturday, September 08, 2007

Stress Busters

For many, "have a great day" just doesn't get it done.

We added an EAP program (Employee Assistance Plan) to our benefits program a year to two ago, and given the pressures created and faced by all of us, both in and outside the office, I am very glad we did. Based on the feedback we have received, there are lots on our staff who feel the same way. Indeed, to say that we live and work in an environment that produces a fair amount of stress for all of us would be an understatement to say the very least.

I can remember somewhere along the way reading or hearing that some "experts" say that some stress is good for you. I don't know about you, but if that's true, there are probably millions of us who are in such "good shape" that we can't stand it anymore. Just kidding.

In truth, however, I actually do believe that some stress is good and that it helps to keep us focused, energized, interested, competitive, goal oriented, and committed. All that being as it may, however, most of us still spend a fair amount of time trying to manage our stress levels so that we retain the positives so that they continue to help rather than reaching a point of diminishing returns.

What got me to thinking about all this was when I read the September newsletter that comes to us from our EAP service provider. It was just an electronic one-pager the title of which was Stress Busters: 10 Little Things to Try. After reading it, I thought it was worth sharing here if for no other reason than while not everyone has the advantage of an EAP plan to turn to, everyone is subject to any and all of the factors that bring stress into our lives.

Stress Busters: 10 Little Things To Try!

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health indicate that many of us experience a growing sense of stress during the fall months. In some cases, this is related to the opening of school and all that this entails, such as shopping for clothes and readjusting schedules. For others, it is the anticipation of the coming winter months as we say goodbye to the laid-back days of summer. But the concept of “stress management” can itself become stressful when one considers intimidating therapies such as “autogenic training,” “biofeedback” or “transcendental meditation.” However, stress management can sometimes be achieved by making minor adjustments rather than radical makeovers! Here are 10 such suggestions that are easy to try:

1. Go to bed just 15 minutes earlier at night. You will feel noticeably refreshed in the morning and more energetic in taking on the day and its challenges.
2. Nourish your friendship circle. Reconnect with an old friend.
3. Learn to say no. Resist the urge to accede to someone’s request for your time or assistance if you’re already multi-tasking. This does not make you a selfish person.
4. When faced with stressful situations, reflect on similar situations that you have successfully withstood in the past. You survived those and you’ll survive these!
5. Learn to appreciate your family and co-workers. All too often, we tend to take their positive traits for granted and focus instead on traits we wish we could change, alter or redirect.
6. Don’t procrastinate. When we postpone burdensome tasks, they continue to loom on the horizon and drag us down.
7. Avoid perfectionism. The discovery of fuzz balls under the bed doesn’t mean that you must embark on a cleaning crusade.
8. Focus on improving yourself in some small way. According to Leslie Bonci, a dietician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, “four fewer bites of food per day can translate into a weight loss of ten pounds per year.”
9. Limit interaction with “negative” acquaintances who chronically reinforce feelings of hopelessness, anger and despair.
10. Catch yourself when tempted to “catastrophize;” i.e., when your mind fixates on some remotely threatening situation and anticipates an horrendous outcome.

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