- Wake up to the music of your favorite radio station.
- Allow yourself some time to adjust to being awake. Take 10 minutes to meditate or pray.
- Sit down at the table and eat breakfast.
- Instead of drinking coffee, try fruit juice. A little lemon juice in tepid water will act the same as coffee without the caffine.
- Add a few drops of Peppermint essential oil to your shower or bath for an uplifting start to your day.
- Reduce you commuter stress by leaving a little early and driving a little more slowly. If you are running late, ask yourself "Will it really matter a year from now?"
- Sing songs and smile at other drivers then laugh at yourself.
- Set priorities, get organized.
- Don't try to be perfect. Give yourself permission to do one imperfect thing each day. Make sure you praise yourself when you get something right.
- Avoid doing more than 2 tasks at once.
- Make your work space a more relaxing atmosphere. If possible, add colors that soothe you, pictures you like or a fluffy rug to put your feet on. Reduce the noise level in your office.
- Become a better listener. Understand that we all do not view the world the same way. Take time to see things from a different perspective.
- Breathe away your stress. Several times a day and whenever you are feeling stress, slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Do this to a count of 10. Inhale on odd numbers, exhale on even.
- Keep a fun folder or a feel better folder. Keep funny cartoons, stories, and notes from friends and co-workers or anything you like in it. Take it out when you need a little humor or to remind you that you are appreciated.
- DELEGATE! Don't feel like you have to do everything. Those who don't delegate are often left with a series of unfinished tasks causing additional stress.
- Take a lunch. That doesn't mean eating a bag of chips at your desk. Get outside, take a walk, do some stretching and breathing exercises, sit on the grass or go browse in a bookstore or shoe store.
- Take "mental health" days and do something you like.
- Be assertive: ask for what you want. Be decisive: indecision equates to stress. Be proactive: don't let negative situations sneak up on you. Don't procrastinate: it decreases productivity and increases guilt and anxiety. And always be able to laugh at yourself.
- Take a vacation!!
- Optimize you health with good nutrition, sleep and exercise.
- Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays. Make mundane events special. Have friends over for dinner, try a new recipe.
- Choose winners. Avoid people that are "stress carriers" or "negaholics" instead seek the company of those who have a high self esteem and are optimistic.
- Nurture you spirituality. Connect with others of like mind.
- Keep a journal. Make notes about things that stress you out. Brainstorm on ways to combat that stress.
- Make a list of things you like to do. Do one of those things each day.
- Practice living in the moment. Enjoy the "little" things.
- Get a pet. People with pets are normally calmer and live a less stressful life.
- Turn off the TV. An evening of television can actually be stressful. Consciously limit the amount of TV you watch each night. Choose what shows you want to watch, watch them then turn the TV off. If someone else is watching something you don't want to see, walk away. Avoid watching the 10 or 11:00 PM news. Some alternatives to TV include listening to music or reading a book.
- Show kindness and consideration to others. Hold a door open, pay the toll for the person behind you at the tollbooth, or buy a lonely diner lunch.
- Resist the urge to judge or criticize. That includes yourself.
- Treat yourself to new and good things.
- Try a therapeutic massage.
To perform the following exercise you will need a comfortable, safe place to lay down and about 25-60 minutes.
What to do:
- Lay down on a comfortable bed or a recliner.
- Begin slowing you thoughts by focusing on you feet.
- Notice how you feet are feeling. Are they cold? Hot? Tired? Can you feel the blood circulating in them? Feel connected to your feet.
- Move your focus up to your ankles. Make that connection.
- Feel and experience the different parts but do not judge. Don't use words like bad or good.
- Gradually shift your focus upward to your lower leg, knees caps, thighs and upward.
- Keep reminding yourself to go slowly.
- Breathe deeply into each area of the body. Focus on releasing any stress or soreness in the muscles that feel.
- Once you have moved through your torso and up to you neck drop back to your fingertips.
- Move up to the hands, up your arms and shoulders, returning to your neck.
- Finish with your face and scalp.
- Feel all the stress drain from your body down into the earth grounding you.
Once you get proficient in this technique you will be able to access the feeling of complete relaxation at any time you are stressed.
- Don't rush. This process should take some time.
- If you are a person who falls asleep quickly you may want to do this sitting upright.
Like any other skill anger management takes practice. Next time you get angry try these approaches:
- Make a clear statement: I'm angry because __________________ (be specific).
- Visualize yourself in a room with the person. Say what's on your mind.
- Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Allow yourself to be "wrong" some of the time.
- Avoid blaming, attacking, or bringing up other grievances.
- Can the situation be changed or avoided in the future? If the answer is yes, think about how that can be accomplished. If the answer is no, work towards acceptance. Remember that you can not control other's behavior, but you can control the way you respond. Write a letter to the person with whom you are angry. Refrain from delivering the letter for a few days. When you review it you may decide on another approach.
- Find a physical avenue for anger, such as exercise or housework.
- Use positive self-talk: "I'm angry but I can get on with my life or job".
- Study you anger. "Why do I get angry at this?"
- Choose a time to talk that is good for you and the other person. Maintain eye contact and a calm voice while talking.
- Use "I" statements: "I get angry when…". Blaming statements often start with "you": "You never…".
- Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or imagery focusing on a peaceful place, thought or sound.
- Set a time limit for anger. Then let it go.
- Know your limits. Seek counseling if anger continues to be a big problem for you.
|Keep track of your anger response:
| Something that triggered my anger:
| My response:
| Something I did well in this situation:
|| Something I could have done better:
It helps to practice anger management techniques with a neutral person. Get together with a friend and take turns role playing, each assuming the role of the person the other one is angry with.
If only there were a better way to start and end the workday than the daily commute. For most commuters it's 30 to 90 minutes of start and stop, noise and exhaust fumes surrounded by drivers all as stressed out and anxious as they are. And those are the good days, when an accident doesn't tie up traffic for five miles and cause you to be late to work again.
Some workers have gone to great lengths to counter the daily commute, by carpooling, using public transportation, telecommuting some of the time or switching to work that is closer to home. If you don't have those options, you can still avoid being a helpless victim of commuter stress.
Before You Start
Get ready for the morning commute by getting a good night's sleep, eating a nutritious, filling breakfast and leaving on time or better yet, a little early, since nothing is more stressful than having to fight the clock as well as the traffic to get to work on time. Begin the evening commute by consciously leaving your work-related frustrations behind.
Behind the Wheel
Before you turn on the ignition, take a few deep, slow breaths. Picture the tension and aggravation going out with each breath. Do this again whenever heavy traffic or some insensitive roadhog starts getting you hot under the collar. While driving, notice how your body reacts to stress: the tense neck and shoulders, the white knuckles, and consciously relax those muscles. Since you've given yourself plenty of time to get to work, you won't need to build up your stress level with constant lane changes and jockeying for position. Use slow times, red lights and stopped traffic, to slow yourself down. Give yourself permission to just drive, don't try to read, dictate or solve problems. Think of the car as a refuge from the pressures and demands of life.
Try to Keep Calm, Try Tolerance
Let's face it, not many people can drive as well as you. Lousy drivers are not out to drive you personally insane. However rude they are, they're just trying to get to work like you are. Here's where a sense of humor can be a godsend.
Keep a Safe Distance
Tailgating is a sure prescription for stress and accidents. When you're tailgating you have to be constantly braking and speeding up to avoid a collision. Not good for your health. When someone's tailgating you, just move out of the way. Try not to get emotionally involved or take it personally.
Take Care of Your Posture
Sit forward enough so that your lower legs are bent at a 45-degree angle from your thighs, and your arms are comfortably bent. Set your seat as upright as possible, try a back support if your back gets tired. Once you get to work, or home, do a few neck and shoulder stretches to work out the kinks.
You're In Charge
Remember that you can't do much about traffic conditions, but when it comes to how you choose to respond to the daily commute stress, you're in the driver's seat.
Research has shown that most illnesses, including headaches, backaches and heart disease, can be caused or influenced by our feelings and stress levels.
When we experience life changes, positive or negative, our bodies need time to recover. Having an optimistic attitude can help speed recovery and may even keep you healthier than someone with negative attitudes. By learning to "look on the bright side," you can help counteract the negative effects of stress and improve your overall health.
Looking on the Bright Side
The classic definition of an optimist is a person who sees a glass as half full, while a pessimist sees it as half empty. Optimists choose to feel hopeful about how they see a situation. Optimists are positive thinkers who practice positive "self-talk." They tell themselves "I can." Optimism, or positive thinking, can help accomplish a surprising number of personal and work goals.
Become an Optimist
- Find a role model. Find someone who seems to make the best of any given situation. Find out how that person maintains that attitude, and copy the behavior. Chances are, even during difficult times optimism helps your role model get through it with fewer negative effects.
- Practice positive self-talk. Tell yourself positive things every day for a month ("I can do the job," "I like myself," etc.). Practice positive self-talk for at least one month before judging how it has affected your attitude.
- Practice affirmations. Affirmations are positive, motivating statements. Use short "I am" statements: "I am happy with my job." Say the affirmation out loud several times, then imagine it happening.
Accentuate the Positive
No one is optimistic all the time. But anyone can learn how to adopt a more positive, healthier attitude. When you practice being an optimist, you'll be on your way to a happier, healthier body and mind.
An ancient technique practiced in many eastern traditions, meditation is now known to be an effective way of coping with daily stress, the kind we all experience from time to time. There are many ways to meditate. Try this method, which focuses on counting the breath.
- Choose a quiet room that is not too brightly lit. The best times to do meditation are before breakfast and before dinner, but any time will do. Allow yourself five minutes at first and gradually work up to 20 minutes or more at a sitting.
- Sit upright in a straight chair, with your spine erect, your ears above your shoulders and your chin tucked in, as if there were a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upright. Feet should be flat on the floor, hands resting in your lap. Rock back and forth until you feel your posture is centered and balanced. Let your eyes droop nearly closed and directed toward a spot on the floor a few feet in front of you. Keep your body perfectly still unless you need to shift because of pain or discomfort.
- Start with some deep breathing: inhale normally and exhale deeply, letting all the breath flow out. Pause, then inhale, letting the breath flow in naturally. Use the muscles of your abdomen rather than your chest to breathe.
- Now allow your breathing to become natural and somewhat slow, as though you were settling down to sleep. As you exhale, count "one." Continue counting, each time you exhale, up to 10. If thoughts enter your mind and you forget to count, simply notice and dismiss the thoughts, then begin again at "one." Do the same with sounds and bodily sensations: simply notice and dismiss them.
- If you wish to time your meditation, use a non-ticking timer, or do as many Asian practitioners do: keep time by burning a stick of incense. When you're finished, rock gently back and forth before slowly getting up.
Letting Thoughts Pass Through
Many thoughts will enter your mind as you meditate. Don't try to stop them, but don't follow them either. Just let them pass through. Some people like to keep a note pad next to them in case a thought arises that needs to be remembered, for instance, a chore that you had forgotten or a solution to a problem that's been plaguing you.
A Gentle Process
You may not notice any particular effect from meditation at first. The key is just to do it regularly, day after day. Think of drops of water slowly wearing away a mountain of anxiety. Your coworkers may be the first to notice a difference. Gradually you will find yourself getting more centered and more capable of calmly facing the many stresses of your busy life.
A sacred space is a place that you can retreat to be alone when you need time to yourself or a place to reflect and meditate. A sacred space can be a real space in or around your home that you are safe and comfortable in or an astral space created in your mediation.
To create a scared space in or around your home find a place you can be safe and comfortable. If you have an extra room that's great, if you have a corner of a room, that will work too. Clean the space thoroughly (physically and ethereally), add new paint if possible, inform everyone in the house that this is your sacred space so no one disturbs it and fill it with anything that makes you happy. Have cushions or a comfortable chair to sit on and meditate. The more time you spend in your scared space the more you will be drawn to it seeking the solace and restfulness it provides.
If you don't have a physical space to create you scared space it you can develop an astral space while meditating. After reaching the point in your meditations that you can freely let thoughts pass without consciously thinking about them you can begin directing your meditations to suit your needs. To create your astral space, begin by getting to your quiet spot. Once there visualize an opening to your astral temple. You may create this space anywhere, any time to resemble any place. You can add new features at anytime. You are no longer constrained by time or space. After your temple is set up, you can go there anytime to find solace and respite. Be mindful of images, often your subconscious or higher conscious will send you messages through them.
In the course of living, we are often hurt by others. Holding in hurt feelings over months, or even years, is very stressful and can cause minor and major diseases. Learning to forgive significant hurts and then move on is an important part of being healthy, in both mind and body.
The Forgiving Crisis
We can laugh or explain away small hurts. But some hurts are so unfair, and so deeply felt, that they cause "a forgiving crisis". We can't bring ourselves to forgive the person who caused the hurt (even in cases where we know they didn't mean to hurt us). If you've been hurt, you probably feel anger, or even hatred. Holding in such feelings is stressful, and can also increase other stresses. When you face your pain (and the person who hurt you), you can end the "forgiving crisis" and lead a healthier, happier life.
Learn a Way to Forgive
Being hurt by someone you trust can be particularly painful. While it may be difficult, try to be open and accepting as you explain to that person what he or she did to hurt you so deeply, then try to imagine that the event has not happened. You may find that you are able to stand back and be objective about the person who hurt you. You may find that the person is weak, needy or simply human, and needs your help.
With new insights, your pain and anger may give way to forgiving and compassion. If you reach out, that person may be willing to try to renew your friendship.
Nature of Forgiving
Forgiving is part of healing, but it is not excusing, denying, hiding or ignoring the event that caused the pain. Forgiving includes remembering, letting go of anger, recognizing what happened, and moving on. Forgiving is often a slow, confusing process. You can forgive and still feel some anger.
Benefits of Forgiving
Forgiving makes your life easier. It gives you greater peace of mind. You can get on with your life when part of you is freed from having to resent those who have harmed you.