Earlier this week I looked at factors that can cause stress in the workplace. Now, it is time to focus on some stress-busting techniques. Below are some reminders and some new tips that are aimed at keeping the stress levels as low as possible. These are all quite easy and most of them can be achieved without anyone else knowing that you are doing them.
- As soon as you feel the stress kicking in, get moving! This can be anything from simply getting up and walking around the office. But it is also things like taking the stairs rather than the lift. Leaving the building for your lunch hour and going for a walk. In order for us deal with emotions like stress, we need to move. It is the body’s natural way of defusing the emotion.
- Get breathing! The Human Givens model uses the idea of 7/11 breathing (in for 7 counts and out for 11). But any breathing where you breathe out for more counts than breathing in, will work. It is the longer out breath that is really important. And this you can do at your desk and no-one will know you are doing it. It is a really good skill to practise in your own time. It is a great way to start and finish each day. A bit of “me time” to set yourself up and wind yourself down.
- Then try some muscle relaxation. You can do this along with the breathing. As you breathe in, tighten a set of muscles. As you breathe out, relax them. Start at your toes and work your way up your legs, into your abdomen, down your arms to your fingertips. I find that the shoulders are often the tightest. Lift them up to your ears, and let them drop!
- You need to manage your expectations: Do you expect too much from yourself? Do you expect too much from your employer or employees or colleagues?
- Reframe your expectations: You might have heard of Growth Mindset which is the idea that abilities and intelligence are not fixed and can grow. The Human Givens calls this REFRAMING. Instead of saying: “I cannot do this!” train yourself to say something like: “I have not mastered that skill YET.”
- Force yourself to stand back: Observe yourself and your circumstances in a more objective and detached way. Inspect your own thought processes and focus on seeing the bigger picture.
- Then there is a technique called Guided Imagery: This is something that a coach, therapist or counsellor can guide you through. It involves you being in a state of deep relaxation and then using your imagination to rehearse situations that could cause you stress in the future. It is also really useful as a method of dealing with past stresses.
- Finally, open yourself up to learning new skills. You might be lacking in certain skills or you have skills that need tweaking. These might be improved or new skills that will allow you to perform better at your job or simply learning effective coping skills that you can use when you feel the stress levels rising. Our brain loves to learn. Give it something new to learn and over time it will not let you down.