Stress management can actually be a matter of life and death. Here is a true story of what stress did to a coworker and good friend of mine. nd some stress management activities that can help you
On a Monday morning, at eight a.m. in a highly stressful meeting that was taking place in the corporate jungle…
A smoky room was filled with “suits” listening to, arguing about and saying silent prayers over the latest battles, emergencies and victories. There was strong coffee, ulcer medication, a few hangovers and a whole lot of big egos all squeezed into one small space.
My friend and mentor growled, “This job is going to kill me someday…” which is what he always said. Except this time he fell over face down on the table and died of a massive heart attack right there in the meeting in front of everyone, with his lit cigarette still smoking in the ashtray.
He died from stress. It was absolutely shocking. Yet the really sad part was . . . life soon returned to the normal routine and went on without him. Like water in a stream closing in after the ripples of a falling pebble, the corporate world rushed on almost as if nothing had happened.
I was not there that day. I had already resigned from that job because it was so stressful. And I had felt like those words could come true, that “This job is going to kill me someday.”
It was not easy to leave a high paying career like that. It was a good company, with some really great people. I’d worked my way up from the bottom, through years of hard work. I had an executive position complete with company car, expense accounts, good pay and all of the perks that are known as “golden handcuffs,” which are designed to keep you there.
Yet I knew that someday soon I might end up dropping dead in my tracks from stress. And life would simply go on without me. The work I was doing at the time seemed so important to me but by looking at the big picture I realized it was not that important at all.
What About stress management activities?
Could stress management have helped the situation? Would better stress management have kept me from leaving the firm and kept my friend from dying of a heart attack?
While it is impossible to know what might have been, it does seem that making some conscious effort to manage the level of stress would have been of great benefit. The only ways people in some old-school companies deal with stress are to smoke cigarettes all day and then drink some alcoholic beverages after work.
Here are some better ideas and stress management activities, to help manage stress. Not everyone has the option of quitting their career and starting up a new entrepreneurial venture as I did. Yet nobody wants the alternative ending that happened to my friend. So here is a middle ground, where people can still keep their career but not let it ruin their health.
The way you start your day can have a lot of influence on how it goes.
Get off to a bad start and you increase your odds of having a bad day.
So how do we start the day in a good way?
Some stress management activities can help
1. First off
wake up rested from a good night’s sleep of a full eight hours. Go to bed on time. Remember the saying, “early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise.”
2. Avoid alcohol,
soda pop, caffeine, sugar, white flour, and other stimulating substances before going to bed. Do some exercises instead, like push-ups and squats.
3. Don’t watch the television news before going to sleep.
Your subconscious mind will dwell on the bad news all night. If you must watch television, watch a comedy. Better yet, read a few pages in a book.
4. Sleep in a dark,
quiet room on a comfortable mattress. People drive these vanity automobiles that cost small fortunes, but they scrimp on the bed where they spend a third of their life. What’s up with that? If you get a full eight hours of sleep, that is one-third of the 24 hours in a day. Your mattress is something to splurge on.
5. Wake up to some music that you enjoy.
Not the trash-talking radio hosts, or the shrill beeping of the typical alarm. And hit the snooze a couple of times.
6. Before getting up and out of bed
lay there and do some stretching and deep breathing. As you do this, think of some things to be grateful for. Your health, your loved ones, etc. Wake up with an attitude of gratitude towards the coming day.
7. Eat breakfast.
Most people don’t do this. They say they don’t have time. Yet all they have to do is get up 10 minutes sooner. You can make up some oatmeal or other hot cereal the day before. Then in the morning, just quickly warm it up and eat it. Toss in some fruit on top and it is super healthy and slimming.
8. If you commute to work
leave a few minutes earlier than usual. That will help lower the stress of the drive. Try listening to some peaceful music, or a good audiobook, or even some audios that encourage positive thoughts.
9. All during the day at work
remind yourself that “this is not an emergency.” If things get stressful, mentally step back, and observe what is happening. Keep your “self” separate from your work and environment.
10. Practice low-stress communications
when interacting with other people. Think before you speak and try to only say things that are positive, fun, encouraging, and thankful. Avoid complaints and criticism whenever possible.
11. Always take breaks during the day
and do something enjoyable during the break, not something that adds more stress. One large corporation I worked for years ago had a break room with a television that was tuned to a cable news channel. When people went on break they would be subjected to all the latest bad news. Meanwhile, I would go outside and walk around the park-like setting of the company’s beautifully landscaped campus. It was very relaxing to get some mild exercise, fresh air, and a change of scenery. Nobody else ever went out there and they thought I was odd for doing that instead of watching the news on television. Yet I was far less stressed than everyone else was.
12. If stress is still difficult to manage
consider changing something. You could work in a different department, different positions, different locations… or even a completely different company. See the page on this site about changing careers. The good news is you don’t have to live a stressful life. You can use stress management activities to keep it at a low level, and you can make changes to make your day-to-day life a lot more enjoyable.