Feeling stressed lately? You’re not alone. Sometimes it feels as though we’re running full out on a treadmill that just won’t slow down. So here are four things you can do to take back control of that treadmill and beat stress before it beats you.
• Go for a walk. Walking sends oxygen back up to your brain. Studies have shown that even a short walk can improve memory and attention – skills that will come in handy when you get back to your desk. Over the long term, regular walking can help resist the shrinkage of the brain that comes with age. It even makes you feel better. So how long does it take to get the benefits of a walk? Just 20 minutes, about the same amount of time it takes you to check your social media feeds.
• Appreciate your progress. So often we get caught up in the onslaught of busy-ness that we forget to appreciate how far we’ve come. At the beginning or the end of the day, take a moment to reflect on what you have accomplished. Maybe you’ve reached a milestone in your project, or you have built a strong team. Taking a moment to appreciate ourselves can pay off in greater perspective.
• Minimize decision-making. Every time you make a decision, you’re using up precious mental energy. But think for a moment about some of the decisions you don’t make: when was the last time you thought about whether you would brush your teeth? You probably developed that healthy habit many years ago, and now you don’t waste any energy deciding on when you will pull out your toothbrush. So think about the things you do on a daily basis. Try to slot them into the same time every day, so that they become automatic just like brushing your teeth.
• Look at the big picture. When life gets overwhelming, it’s important to remember why we do what we do. You can look at your job as just a job, or you can see how it fits into your overall career plan, how it supports your family, or how you make a contribution to something larger than yourself. Whatever it is, thinking about your purpose can help quell some of the stressful feelings and put everything into greater perspective.
What other strategies do you have for managing stress? I’d love to hear what works for you.