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Becoming Stress-Free for Productivity, Energy and Health
What would you give to be free from stress? If you are like most people, reducing stress seems as elusive and impossible as winning the lottery. Stress has become such a buzz-word in our society that I wonder how many of us really understand what stress is or how we become “stressed.” Stress is simply the word we use to define our reaction to how we perceive a particular situation or event. For instance, if you are busy working at your computer on a project with a short deadline and the telephone keeps ringing, or someone keeps interrupting your concentration, you may become “stressed out.” You perceive the interruptions as unavoidable distractions that are keeping you from completing the project by the deadline. You feel as though you have little control over the amount of stress you are experiencing. Not having control over your environment can, in and of itself, bring about a stressful feeling. There are things you can do to improve your productivity, organize your time, redirect your thoughts to conserve your mental energy, and regain a sense of control:
· When possible, schedule your time so that you work on projects that require concentration and focus when you are most rested and least distracted. This might be first thing in the morning or later in the evening, depending upon your personal energy level during the day.
· Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If you need to close yourself off to distractions, ask others to give you the space you need. Let the calls go to voice mail or ask someone to take messages for a period of time. Close your office door if you can. Post a sign asking people to leave a message or return at a later time, unless there is an emergency that cannot wait.
· Limit the amount of time you spend with people who drain your energy. Frequently, these are the friends, family and coworkers who always have a negative outlook, spend all of their time complaining about things, seem to move from one crisis to another, and generally zap your positive mood. You don’t have to completely cut them off from your life (although you certainly could choose to do that). Just take control of the amount of time you allow them to impose themselves on you.
· For one day, make a checklist of how many times you catch yourself focusing your mental energy on something that has already occurred (the past) or something that will/may occur (the future). This checklist will help you realize how often you are not in the present moment. The truth is, neither past nor future events will be affected by the amount of time you spend (or waste) thinking about them. Free up your mental energy for the present moment. When you catch yourself thinking about the past or worrying about the future, try repeating the mantra, “be here now.”
Further, you can reduce your stress by building time for recreation and relaxation into your schedule. It is just as important as any task or appointment that gets placed on your calendar – perhaps even more important. Take time for yourself. Take time for fun. Take time to exercise and burn off some of that perceived stress that gets stored in your body. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it! I would venture to say that even your coworkers, friends, and family members will thank you for it.