Thursday, December 20, 2007

De-stressing on the Job

Dr. Herbert Benson is a very smart man. So smart, in fact, that he's founded his own mind-body medicine center at Mass General Hospital in Boston.

There are some great resources here for mini relaxation techniques and exercises that can loosen up your body on the job. But what I was most interested in was his list of ways to avoid job stress.

Among them are some concrete tips that no doubt help:

* Eat breakfast every morning.
* Ocassionally mix up your breakfast routine by starting the day with a leisurely breakfast with a coworker.
* Organize your work priorities.
* Speak up about petty annoyances.
* Optimize your health with good nutrition, sleep and rest.
* Don't try to do 2 or 3 things at a time.

Others are more metaphysical, like:

* Look at unavoidable stress as an avenue for growth and change.

I love that one because it reminds me that stress is inevitable. In fact, stress can be good. The challenge there, and the work, is to figure out what's avoidable stress and what's not--and then letting go of resisting the unavoidable. It's a paradigm shift that requires regular attention.

There are many others, and you should check them out for yourself. See which ones you're good at and which you'd like to add to your serenity toolbox.

But then there is at least one of the easier-said-than-done variety.

* Don't try to be perfect. Don't feel like you have to do everything.

This, I think, is the crux of avoidable--and toxic--stress. At least for me. How do we do that, though? Perhaps some of the other tips will help:

* Develop a coworker support network: If you have friends in your industry with whom you can share your frustrations or, hey, if you can create a blog about it, you're less likely to be alone with that crazy voice in your head that tells you that you aren't doing enough and so you aren't enough.

* Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for help: The more you try to do it alone, the more you're likely to believe you have to--and that whatever you do has to be perfect.

* Take deep breaths when you're feeling stressed.

How do you tackle the easier-said-than-done stress-busting axioms?

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