I’ve been doing quite a bit of productivity training lately, and I’ve heard so many people talk about their struggle with stress management. In The Power of Full Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz make an interesting point: Stress is addictive.
The hormone adrenaline is really powerful. For people who operate at high levels of intensity for long periods of time, they can actually get addicted to the “high” you get from adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol.
Are you secretly addicted to stress? Are you enabling behavior that creates more stress in your life? If so, here are 7 strategies to help you on your road to recovery:
1. Breathe. While the alternative isn’t a great option, most of us don’t breathe correctly. Take time each day to breathe deeply. When you start to feel stressed, breathe in through your nose, hold it, breathe out through your mouth. Do each for 3-5 seconds.
2. Brain dump. Get EVERYTHING out of your head and onto a piece of paper at least once a day. We can only store a limited amount in our short-term memory. When we feel overwhelmed, it is often because we’re trying to remember everything, and it’s impossible. Write things down as you think of them, and devote 5-10 minutes a day to getting it out of your head and onto paper.
3. Set goals. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up where we’re headed. What do you want to accomplish? Regularly take time to set goals and transfer daily action steps to your calendar.
4. Exercise. Holy cross-fit batman. My lack of exercise and physical activity were taking a toll on me, and I decided I needed to step it up. I started cross-fit twice a week, and aside
from being so sore I can’t walk, I can absolutely tell a difference in my energy level and state of mind. Whether it’s walking, swimming, dancing, or any other type of physical activity, it is
critical to our health and well-being.
5. Think. How much time do you spend just thinking? Most of us are so busy “doing” that we don’t take time to stop and think. Whether you call it creative thinking or introspection, take 15-30 minutes a day and just let your mind wander. I keep my phone near me so I can use the voice memo function to capture ideas.
6. Take a break. Your body is going to take a break whether you choose to or not, so it might as well be on your terms. Our mind and body must have time to rest. This is not a luxury, it is a physical requirement.
7. Eat your frog. In his book, Eat That Frog, Brian Tracey suggests that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, nothing else will be that awful for the rest of the day. Our tendency is to procrastinate doing the things we don’t want to do, but we waste a ton of energy dreading doing it. Instead, before you ever turn on your computer, check your Facebook page, or read your emails, pick your most difficult task of the day, your frog, and get it done.