Because stress related to work, family issues and other events is something that affects many of us, it’s important to reset your own stress response to protect your health and productivity. Sharon Melnick, Ph.D., a business psychologist, offers these tips:
Act don’t react. According to Melnick, “Stress occurs when we feel that situations are out of our control.” This feeling activates stress hormones affecting our confidence, concentration and well-being. Since you can only control your own actions and responses, Melnick advises doing the best you can to make your own actions positive and letting go of what you cannot change.
Breathe deeply. While this advice may seem simple, it can be very effective. Simply inhale for five seconds, hold and exhale in equal counts through your nose. This practice will help you restore calmness and clarity.
Avoid interruptions. Emails, phone calls, spontaneous meetings and texts leave us distracted—but they don’t have to. Melnick offers a three-point strategy: 1) Accept the interruption, 2) Ignore it if it’s not important or relevant and 3) If it is important, make a plan to address it after you’ve completed your priority tasks.
Work when energy and focus are at their peak. Working longer than a regular eight-hour day doesn’t necessarily make you more productive. When you are constantly pushing yourself, productivity tends to decrease and stress levels increase—depleting your overall energy. If possible, do your most important work when you are fresh and energized, take breaks every 90 minutes throughout the day, and wind down your work at a reasonable hour.
Take care of yourself. It goes without saying that a poor diet, poor sleep and little exercise are going to add to your body’s stress level. So, make sure that you put some energy into ensuring that your lifestyle helps you combat the external stressors that are out of your control.
While it’s virtually impossible to eliminate stress completely, you can control your reaction to it and take steps to reduce its negative impact. Follow these tips and be well!