By Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed.
If you’re like most people, the past year has added a layer of stress to your life. How one deals with stress can make a huge difference in our health as well as our relationships and our productivity, so allow me to offer a few thoughts on stress management.
The Mayo Clinic outlines some ripple effects of stress: anxiety, headaches, muscle tension and pain, sleep problems, and memory and concentration impairment, among others. It’s been my observation that when people are coping with ongoing stress, their “politeness” factor can wear thin. When that happens, it impacts the attitudes and productivity of those around us. Not good for us, and not good for our families or our workplace.
A friend of mine, Dr. Lynn Laird, Psy.D., recently gave a short presentation on managing stress, and I thought that with a stressful 18 months behind us and a stressful holiday season just ahead of us, it might be a good idea to share some of her suggestions.
Keeping our thoughts and concerns bottled up can be like putting a lid on a pressure cooker. Journaling allows our brains to process feelings in a way that brings multiple health benefits. A few thoughts on journaling include:
- Get alone and remove distractions.
- If possible, write by hand instead of typing. The neuromuscular process has been shown to improve mood and memory, and even foster creativity and deeper levels of thinking.
- Write for at least five minutes.
Gratitude journaling (writing about that for which you are thankful) has been shown to have a greater impact on improving happiness and reducing stress.
Don’t feel the need to make journaling a daily task – that can add stress! Research shows journaling three times a week can produce better results than writing every day.
Go for a leisurely walk
One need not do a full workout to reduce stress. Life’s pace can be hectic, and the Journal of Health Psychology reports that walks which do not noticeably raise heart rates or breathing help lower
feelings of stress and depression. Noticing nature, such as paying attention to birds chirping or tree leaves rustling in the wind during a leisurely walk, can add to feelings of well-being.
Turn off social media and open a book
Much of what transpires on social media can actually increase stress, but simply turning it off is not a solution in and of itself. Nature abhors a vacuum, so the key to stress reduction is finding something else to do instead of scrolling. “Page turning” is a viable option and escaping into a good novel is great for reducing stress. According to research at the University of Sussex, stress can be reduced 68 percent just from reading. In fact, people have lower heartbeats and improved relaxation after just six minutes of reading.
For those who don’t like novels, historical fiction has been said to be a happy medium.
Like anything in life, people can react differently to the same stimuli, and as a good friend used to say, “The same sun that melts butter, hardens clay.” So, if nothing above appeals to you, think back: what has helped you relax in the past?
Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach him through his website, MyWorkplaceExcellence.com, or his office at 208-375-7606.