stress treesWhen it all gets to be a bit too overwhelming in the workplace- and in life- what do you do? Everyone has an outlet, or at least they should. Stress can have terrible ramifications on our health with elevated risk for disease and sickness, interrupted, non-restorative sleep, fat retention in stubborn areas, etc. etc. Basically, stress doesn’t do the body good, so, as healthy individuals, we need to figure out ways to manage it. Read on to see how I reduce my stress levels.

Remove yourself from the stressful space- mentally or physically

I came into work the last week knowing I had a packed day that wouldn’t allow me nearly enough time to complete tasks leftover from the previous day, much less whatever got added to my plate that day, so I was feeling a little overwhelmed. What did I do? I sat on my ball, took a few minutes to go over my ever-growing “to-do” list and prioritized. While that meant that some things just weren’t going to get done in the office that day (hello continued workday when I got home that evening), it helped me sort through things, delegate and clear my headspace. Also? I planned a mind/body refresh run at lunchtime. Hey-o, fitness!

Restart with some physical activity

stress runNo matter what, I have to make time for fitness and this is no secret to anyone in my workplace. Inevitably, you’ll see me leaving the office at the same time each day in order to get my post-work run in on my way home. Co-workers know not to schedule meetings past 4 with me so that I can attend, finish up my day and roll out for my run 30-40 minutes later. Recently I discovered a 7.5-mile loop around my office, the surrounding farmland and residential areas and I’m thrilled because until now, I didn’t think running around there was even a possibility. On a day I know I’ll be in a time crunch following work or if I just feel like getting the heck out of my office, I’ll grab a lunchtime run, take a quick shower upon my return and spend the rest of my day with a clearer perspective and wet hair in a top knot. Try it. You’ll definitely see an improvement upon your return.

Find comfort

I find comfort in routines and being able to have a semblance of control. No, I’m not the Rain Man reincarnate or a taskmaster, but I do like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I can check off things on my to-do list. When I’m stressed, even if I can complete one or two smaller tasks, it makes me feel good and that often brings me back to a place where I am motivated and prepared to take on larger tasks on my list.

A lot of people turn to distraction or conversation with others to get the stress off their chests and some turn to food (a risky road to travel down). A quick chat with a friend or co-worker can do wonders for lowering stress levels but it’s important to respect their time and not unload too frequently. With regard to finding comfort in food, even something like a fun size candy bar (if that’s your weapon of choice) that you slowly savor can give you just the right amount of emotional boost without killing a healthy food day. Just don’t grab a fistful.

Laugh

strees laughStudies prove that laughing releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that have a “feel-good” effect on your mood. Think about the last time you were hard core focused on something unpleasant and someone or something caught your attention and made you laugh. It helped to lighten the moment, right? It made you check yourself and the urgency or importance of the task, which probably helped reduce your overall stress level. Listen to that cheesy joke someone’s telling or click on that YouTube link to a funny or uplifting video. If you’ve got Pharrell singing about being happy 24 hours a day, how can you possibly get into a funk?

Regardless of your de-stressing method of choice, find one. Practice it. Feel yourself unwind – even if it’s just the tiniest bit. While the stresses of your day may not disappear, they can be managed and tackled more effectively depending on the way you address them.