Top Ten Ways to Lower Stress

The most prevalent complaints in our high-paced, high impact culture are somehow related to stress.  From the ongoing, regular stress that comes from professional 24/7 demands, beastly traffic and non-stop plugged-in living, to specific life events that knock us for a loop, the impact of stress accumulates.

Pay attention to how you deal with stress. For me there is some stress that is “good” and some that is downright “bad”.

When I practiced law full time the good stress related to doing my best, preparing for an argument or trial, drafting a brief. I usually enjoyed the “stress” of figuring out a strategy for a case or conferring with a client and assisting them to negotiate through to a solution. That good stress was easier to handle somehow. I felt purposeful and excited about what I was doing, at least the majority of the time.

The bad stress for me, more often than not, related to interpersonal challenges in the office – a.k.a. politics – and the business of law. Things like meeting my hours when work was slow, worrying that my AR (Accounts Receivable) was off track or watching a new client pitch or new case go elsewhere. The practice of law was spot on the right choice for me, it was the law firm culture and power dynamics that tripped me up, along with the intense competition for business. They felt, and ultimately were for me, toxic. I knew that for years and continued to practice and not change my circumstances – inertia and the old “devil you know” syndrome are powerful forces. They were for me, and I know they are for a lot of you.

Recognizing your stress “hot spots” is a critical first step to reducing stress. The following are ten practices to cultivate that will help you get back to well-being following a particularly stressful event or encounter or just dealing with your overall, overcommitted life.

  1. Do something physical. Exercise, walk, play a game, dance, weed/garden.
  2. Breathe. Deeply. Especially when you find yourself irritable or angry.
  3. Retreat. Find a place—your office, a bathroom stall, a park bench, the beach, your car—where you can be quiet and restful. Unplug. Go there when you need to – if only for a quick timeout.  For those times you need a bigger reset, take off and get out in nature for the weekend.  Nothing like the beauty in nature to nourish your soul and take the edge off.
  4. Watch what you eat. Don’t over/under eat; drink water; eat fruits and veggies. Easy on the sugar, caffeine, fatty foods and alcohol. (Easier said than done, I know…)
  5. Get it out. Talk to trusted friends, your coach or a counselor. Write in a journal. Pound a pillow.
  6. Say no. Take care of yourself first or you’ll have no well to draw from when helping others. (This can also be a tough one. You may feel that you cannot say no and not damage your career prospects. But, learning how to set effective boundaries is really key.)
  7. Smile/laugh. Force it at first, if necessary. It’s impossible to stay negative or burdened with a grin on your face.
  8. Change. Shift locations, activities, jobs, people you’re with, beliefs. Mindset is huge when reducing stress and so is extricating yourself from toxic relationships or environments. This can be a tough option. It requires discipline and determination, along with a strong support structure. Don’t try to do this alone.
  9. Relax. Unplug. Take a bath, nap or shower. Sit in the sun/shade. Get a massage. Do nothing.  
  10. Have fun. Don’t forget to take time to play, be creative.  Do things that nourish your soul.  Get outside in nature. Paint. Play an instrument. Be silly with your kids.

I hope things are going well for you and that you have time to enjoy your life and loved ones.   If you are needing support for coping with stress or life in general,  you can find me here. Let’s see how I can help. You do not need to do success alone.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications