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Six Stress-Free Habits Not to Break Dr. Troy Hall Blog Post

Six Stress-Free Habits Not to Break

Would you be surprised to know? 80% of Americans indicate that each time the New Year rolls around their anxiety increases due to high-levels of performance expectations, unfinished project work, and too many re-scheduled meetings.

In my co-authored bestselling book, Back After Burnout, according to a report issued by the American Institute of Stress, one in four employees rank work stress as their number one cause of stress.

AND, the Department of Labor determined that two-thirds of workers site stress as very or somewhat significant. What can be done about it?

Manage Your Stress by Identifying What Triggers It

First of all, it would be helpful to understand the main triggers for stress. Once the stress-trigger has been identified, the individual has an increased opportunity to combat the stress before it becomes problematic.

Take for instance, a person's natural state of being is pioneering, assertive, confident, and positive. When stress is applied, the individual becomes demanding, aggressive, abrasive, and controlling.

There is a difference between triggers and reactions to stress. Triggers include things like being overworked, underappreciated, and/or under constant scrutiny to perform either at high-levels or with an unrealistic expectation of perfection.

Symptoms of Stress

Examples of stress-related reactions include, but are not limited to: being sluggish, suffering frequent headaches, heart palpitations, sleep dysfunction, and/or becoming withdrawn.

When employees are stressed, they will generally retreat to a defensive posture. Their psychological needs are not being met, so the individual is not performing at an optimal level. Stress inhibits the ability for the person to feel in control, or as if they belong. They are likely to have difficulty concentrating and therefore will think that what they are doing is not of value or meaningful.

Stress impacts how individuals react to each other. This may impact their ability to collaborate on projects as this stress-induced state of mind finds the individual disenfranchised, disconnected, or holding back. AND, those actions directly contribute to displaying a potential lack of trust towards themselves and others.

Second, realize that managing stress requires a great deal of energy pulled from an individual's level of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Managing EI primarily involves managing self and exercising self-regard or self-correction, as well as having social awareness and modifying behavior in social settings.

What are some easy-to-follow stress-reducing or stress-eliminating habits?

Here are six things to consider:

  1. Hug someone for at least 20 seconds. This allows our body to release oxytocin, which is a natural way to bring about a calming spirit and lower anxiety.
  2. Meditate. Block out 5 minutes each day. Just sit and let your mind be calm. Try to quiet the inner voice and see if you can sit in complete silence. If that inner voice continues, focus on words that reflect calmness, such as tranquility, peacefulness, serenity. Repeat these words over and over again until your time is up. Many great innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders have shared their meditation practice including Steve Jobs, Emma Chamberlain, Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, and Paul McCartney.
  3. Focus on breathing. Concentrate on taking oxygen in through the nose and out through the mouth. There is a simple technique of taking in a breath for a count of five and releasing it on a count of 5. Oprah knows the difference some quiet time and breathwork can make to decrease her stress: "I usually go to a quiet place. A bathroom cubicle works wonders. I close my eyes, turn inward, and breathe."
  4. Take a walk for 20-minutes with a trusted companion. Hold hands if appropriate. Just walk. No talking for the first 10-minutes. Let words flow naturally. This is not the time for an update.
  5. Set boundaries with self-discipline. You may choose to place your electronic devices in a different room. Be present with the people around you. Control your screen time and set heathy limits.
  6. Pause and take time to react. Give yourself permission to delay a response that may be said in the heat of the moment if you did not take that break. "I've found that sometimes you get really good insights by taking time off." - Former YouTube CEO Susan Wojicki

As you learn to manage your stress levels, learn which of these six techniques works the best for you, which works the quickest, and which, if any, don't work for you. Perhaps you don't like being touched, but you have become aware your phone screen time is over 4 hours a day. If you spend 4 hours a day on your phone, then every week in total you spend over a full day on your phone. A Reddit user went viral for pointing out that if you spend 5 hours a day on your phone from the ages of 14 to 80, it ends up being 13.75 years of your life.

You may not even realize the stress and toxicity your phone and social media causes you. The only way to test it is to go as screen free as you possibly can for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference in your mood. Unless you are already a dedicated screen avoider, I bet it makes a significant change in your stress levels, mood, and overall well-being.

There are hundreds of ways to combat stress so don't believe the list above is complete. Do your research and find the right stress reliever for you. Jeff Bezos says "Stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have some control over. I find as soon as I identify it, and make the first phone call, or send the first e-mail message, or whatever it is that we're going to do to start to address that situation - even if it's not solved - the mere fact that we're addressing it dramatically reduces any stress that might come from it." You can revert to childhood and play. Play games, visit the batting cage, complete a puzzle. Focus your mind entirely on something else even if just for a short while. Maintain perspective of what's important, ie your family, friends, faith, health, pets, and home. The list of ways to combat stress is exhaustive. Discover what works for you and create a habit of doing the stress reliever daily, whether you're are feeling stressed out or not.

Consider asking yourself these questions to help determine if the stress is worth it?

  • Are you worrying about something that may not even matter a week, month, or year from now?
  • Is it possible that you are placing too much emphasis on how you may look to others?
  • Do you see failures as losses or learning experiences?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen?
  • Are you spending time trying to change something that has happened in the past?
"As soon as you realize that something may not be as important as you thought, it buffers stress." - Dr. Ramchandani

Do you meditate and/or workout every morning regardless of stress level because you know these things stop stress before it arrives? Do you escape the office in times of stress to go for a walk?

Thank you for reading my Cohesion Corner™ with Dr. Troy! blog. As a thank you, I would like to offer this free Strengths Self-Assessment downloadable. Complete the worksheet to discover your areas of leadership strength. Click here to download!

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