We’ve all felt the debilitating effects of stress. It can slow us down, make us moody and upset, batter our hearts and immune systems so we get sick more often, and run roughshod over our productivity.
But, stress can also be good for us. When managed the right way, it is motivating. It can fire up our passions, change the way we think about things and make us feel alive.
Now research indicates that how we interpret our bodies’ stress signals impacts in large part how well perform under stress. If we see stress as something that enhances our experiences, then we actually perform better.
Remember that mind/body connection is a strong one. How you think will change the way you feel.
Here are three other ways to quickly manage stress so that you can get back to work.
1. Breathe deep. This is easy peasy, yet I overlooked it for a long time. Take deep breaths from your diaphragm. Slowly inhale to the count of five or ten. Feel the air filling your lungs and chest, expanding your belly and then slowly exhale through your mouth for another 10 count. Do this at least three times and you’ll gain greater peace, clarity, and perspective all of which will make the next moment more productive and less stressful.
2. Get out of dodge. Sometimes the best way out of stress is to get out of the situation. Take a break. Take a time out. Leave the room. Heck, leave the city. A vacation – one without a lot of planned activities – can reduce our chances at burnout. But you can’t always flee the country to feel better, so even a quick walk around the office or neighborhood, or 10-minutes of alone time can make a big difference.
3. Daydream. Yep. Seems counter-productive, I know, but daydreaming and other practices like creative visualization can take us out of the stressful moment and help us fantasize about a more productive, better-feeling future. It’s a reprieve from the negative stress-filled messages that often infiltrate our brain. Take a breath, take a break and let your mind wander and you’ll feel restored.
Stress often comes up when we feel incapable or as though we have too much to accomplish in the time we have. By taking a minute to disengage from the stressful moments, we can change how we handle it the rest of the day.
Artist Erin Cairney White uses mixed media – acrylic paints, gelatos and a variety of papers, inks and stamps to create her work from her Snohomish, Washington studio. She is a wife and mother of four who also teaches art classes and works with educators in the Snohomish School District to support special needs students. Her original artwork is available through the little details company.