WIFM`s Strategies to Beat Stress

by Anne Good
How are your Monday mornings? Do you leap up eager to start a new week full of enthusiasm, energy and excitement, or do you drag yourself out of bed and reluctantly join the commuters who “sleep” their way to work?

Oh, the stress of it all.

So what is stress? Job stress is defined as the harmful physical and emotional response by the body when work needs do not match an individual’s abilities or resources. Stress seems to affect all of us at some stage in our lives, and some people more than others.

Regardless of the media hype, we do need a little stress in our lives. Stress keeps the adrenaline pumping. We need a small degree of stress to operate, meet challenges and goals, and maybe even to get out of bed in the morning. Realistically, these days, to be alive is to be under a certain amount of stress. It seems that stress is with us at all times. Research shows that 60-90% of people’s visits to a doctor are stress related.

Stress is emotional or intellectual tension and exertion that, together, speed up the heart rate, raise blood pressure, cause muscles to tense, and prepare us for “fight or flight.”

Too much stress is destructive to our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. And living in Japan over the past few months surely has caused many of us feelings of heightened stress.

Everyone has their own way of coping with stress. What may be relaxing for one person may be very stressful for another. Thus, for example, an executive who thrives on keeping busy all the time may find taking it easy on a family holiday very frustrating and nonproductive. Another executive might find it possible to relax and “switch off” the minute their backside hits the poolside sun chair.

While excessive emotional stress can have physical ramifications, such as high blood pressure, indigestion, ulcers, eye strain, headache, nervousness and even heart disease, actual physical stress from work or exercise is far less likely to cause such conditions. In fact, physical exercise enables us to relax and handle our mental or emotional stress. So, going to the gym, taking long brisk walks, or cycling to work can help reduce stress.

As stress affects us all in different ways, we need to develop our own strategies to deal with it and ensure it does not get out of control.

Decide which of the following work for you, come up with a plan and implement the suggestions

• Realize that you have options and, If there’s a specific problem to fix, make a list of all the possible solutions before picking the best one for your situation and acting on it.
• Play can be as important as work for your wellbeing. Releasing stress can prevent tension headaches and other physical consequences. Remember, your body and your mind work together.
• Share your stress. It often helps to talk to someone about your concerns and worries. A friend, family member, teacher or coach can help you see your problems from a different perspective. Bottling up stress can cause physical illness.
• Be a participant. Sometimes we can feel lonely in a crowded room. One way to prevent boredom, sadness and loneliness is to become involved in a positive way with other people and the world around you.
• Protect yourself. Lack of sleep and proper nutrition cause irritability and diminish our endurance and ability to deal with stressful situations. An hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after.
• Be realistic and know your limitations. If a problem is beyond your control and cannot be changed at the moment, do not fight the situation. Share it with someone who can.
• Create a “to do” list. Trying to do everything at once can be overwhelming and may prevent you from accomplishing anything at all. Instead, make a list of what tasks you have to do then
prioritize them and do one at a time, checking each off as it is completed. You will experience a sense of accomplishment when you can see the progress you have made.
• Avoid confrontations. Must you always be right? Do other people upset you, particularly when they don’t do things your way? Try cooperation instead of confrontation. A little give-and-take on both sides will reduce the strain and make everyone feel more comfortable.
• Maintain a positive mental attitude. Just as negative emotions can wear the body down, positive feelings can build it up.
• Smile! It’s amazing how it can lift your spirits. Smile next time you feel stressed.
• Watch your diet. Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fats and tobacco all put a strain on your body’s ability to cope with stress. A diet with a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, as well as foods high in protein and low in fat will help create optimum health.
• Get away for a while. Read a book, watch a movie, play a game, listen to music or go on vacation. Leave yourself some time that’s just for you.
• Work off your anger. Get physically active, go to the gym, go for a run or a long walk, clean your apartment, clean out cupboards, start a project.
• Make the first move to be friendly.
• Have fun! As much as possible, laugh and be with people whose company you enjoy.