Relieving Stress

What You Can Do About Stress

Americans take fewer vacation days and work more hours per year than workers in the other top 15 industrialized nations of the world.  And, as you can imagine, this pedal-to-the-metal pace has led to a huge amount of job stress.

In fact, I tell my audiences that one of every three people is stressed out, burned out, or has a life badly out of balance.  To prove my point, I tell them to “Look at someone on your left and look at someone on your right.  And if they look okay, you’re probably the one!

Of course they laugh.  But the facts about workplace stress are even more gruesome than that.

A study by the American Psychological Association shows that 75% of employees consider their jobs to be a major source of stress. 66% say stress negatively affects their productivity levels. And 50% are thinking about leaving their job to find something less stressful.

Chances are … you fall into one of those categories.  And some of the time you find yourself thinking, “Take this job and shove it.”

Well, I’ve got some good news for you.  No matter how stressful your job or life might be there’s always something you can do to make things better.

Take it from Barbara Heiden, a quality assurance chemist at Cargill, who sent me this note. She writes:

“It’s been several weeks since I attended your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program, and I wanted to update you on how things are going.  Using your techniques, I am eating well-balanced meals, losing weight, and have more energy than ever!  I got a new job that pays a great deal better, and even applied your techniques to our family finances for a net gain of $125,000.00.”

Barbara concluded, “I loved the Journey, and as you can tell, I have made some very positive changes.  Thanks!”

Here are 4 tips that will help you manage, minimize, neutralize or eliminate your stress and replace it with a positive vibrant, healthy work-life balance.

1. Take an Honest Look at Your Workplace.

According to the World Health Organization, “stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century” and costs American businesses $300 billion a year.

What about your organization?  Is it throwing money down the drain because it doesn’t know how to create a more positive, less stressful work environment?

Probably so.  A recent survey of 2,500 employees by ComPsych, a provider of employee assistance programs (EAPs), found that almost everybody had difficulty focusing on tasks at work because of all the stress at work.  21% said stress was responsible for errors and missed deadlines.  15% said stress was getting in the way of positive work relationships.   And another 15% said stress was a major contributing factor in missing days of work or being late for work.

Of course, you may feel stuck in a job that is too stressful.  You may feel there is nothing you can do about it.

Well, that’s not true.  Hundreds of people who have attended my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program have learned exactly what they can do about it.

Bob Salen, the director of training for Nucon Construction, says, “As a 61-year old, I finally discovered the secret to the right balance between my business and my family life.  The Journey was a source of inspiration to me.”

(FYI: As of the date of this Tuesday Tip, my next public, off-site Journey program will be in Chicago on November 10-11, 2016.  And the first 25 registrants receive a whopping $600 tuition discount.  Click here for more information.)

2. Be Honest with Yourself.

Take an inventory. Do you have any obvious signs of stress in your life?

Perhaps you catch way too many colds. Or you’re plagued with too many headaches, backaches, and a variety of other tensions. Maybe you worry too much, sleep too little, eat junk food, seldom exercise, and carry an extra ten or twenty pounds.

You might say, “Well, those things just come with age.” No, they don’t. They come with stress, and the first step in licking that stress is being honest with yourself.

And it’s not that difficult to do. After all, your body is a marvelous communication system. It will tell you when you’ve got too much stress or you’re out of balance. You’ll get some pain somewhere.

In fact, that’s the purpose of pain. Pain is there to get your attention. Pain is telling you it’s time to change your life or your lifestyle.

I learned that back in college. I was the epitome of the hard driving, fast running, out-of-balance workaholic. I felt driven to take more courses than normally allowed. I felt driven to get an “A” on every test and in every class. I felt driven to study 5 to 8 hours a day and then work another 25 to 40 hours a week at my sales job.

The results were interesting, to say the least. I achieved great academic success, and I made a lot of money. But I also received so much joint pain that I could hardly walk for months and months afterwards.

I learned that if I don’t take time for “rec-reation” the body will make time for “wreck-reation.” I had to be honest with myself. My body was communicating with me through all those driven years, but I wasn’t listening. I ignored all the painful signals until I couldn’t ignore them anymore.

What’s your body telling you? Is it saying, “I’m calm, cool and collected?” Or is it saying, “I’m overworked and overwhelmed?” Be honest with yourself.

If you get anything less than a positive answer, then do something about it–because the next strategy says you need to…

3. Get More Exercise.

It’s one of the quickest ways to nip stress in the bud.  When you exercise, you reduce or eliminate the stress inside of you.

Of course, people who don’t exercise hate to hear me speak about this. They’ll always find some exception to the rule. They’ll point out the example of the person who exercised every day and dropped dead of a heart attack.

Well, let’s get real. There are exceptions to every rule. But the research is so overwhelming that it is not even debatable anymore. Appropriate exercise cleans out emotional stress, or at the very least, it gives you the strength to deal with it.

Still, non-exercise people like to joke about their non-activity. I saw one lady on a late-night talk show who said her definition of exercise was sitting in the bath tub, pulling the plug, and fighting the current. Another man said he’d consider jogging–if he ever saw a jogger smile.

I assume, however, that you’re interested in a healthy life with less stress and more balance. I assume you want the best for yourself personally and professionally.

That was certainly the case with Mike Sojka of the Fastenal Company. As Mike says:

“Even though it was only a short time ago when I attended your Journey experience, I’ve already seen amazing results.   I used your affirmation/goal-setting process to successfully start my own business.  And I used your techniques to eliminate worry … which has made life a lot less stressful. Thanks again for showing us the skills to succeed into the extraordinary.”

So to get quite specific …

4. Follow the Four Guidelines of Stress-Busting Exercise.

You see, a lot of people try exercise, but they don’t know how to do it. They don’t know how to get the re-energizing, de-stressing effects of appropriate exercise.

There are four things you’ve got to do to make exercise work for you.

First, select an exercise activity or program that makes you stop thinking about your problems.

If you’re going to ride walk to work and think about your unreasonable work load or your disrespectful boss the entire time you’re walking, your walk won’t do you any good.  You’ve got to stop thinking about your problems once in a while. You’ve got to disengage and give your mind a rest.

I used to think that throwing and catching a Frisbee was a rather useless activity. Then I realized how perfectly it fit my first criterion. When you’re jumping in the air catching the Frisbee, your whole body is engaged in the activity. There’s no way you can worry about your problems.

Second, select an exercise activity that turns you on rather than off.

In other words, you’ve got to enjoy it.

When I was a professor, I used to swim laps in the pool during my noon hour. But I knew other professors who would rather have drowned than do laps in the pool. Then don’t do it.

I would also jog around the indoor rubberized jogging track. Again I knew other folks who were bored to tears running around the same circle. Then don’t do it.

There are thousands of good ways to exercise. Find one you enjoy.

Third, select an exercise activity that is fairly non-competitive.

All day long you’re fighting battles with your competitor, with your suppliers and customers, with your coworkers and family members. You’re fighting deadlines and fires. So you don’t need an exercise program that is also a battle.

If, for example, you join the company softball team, and you get all upset about the score, be careful. If you’re complaining about a player’s bad catch or the umpire’s bad call, if you’re complaining three days after the game, your “exercise” program is not doing much to eliminate your stress.

Pick something non-competitive–unless you truly can let it go. In other words, when the game is over, it’s over.

Fourth, do your exercises for at least 20 vigorous minutes 3 times a week.

You have to push yourself to the point where you are literally pushing the stress out of your system. Some exercise experts call this the “trainer’s effect.”

So if you get up in the morning and do 2 sit-ups and 2 push-ups, if that’s the extent of your exercise program, save your breath. It won’t do you much good.

Final Thought: Fresh, alert, creative, and productive minds are usually housed in vibrant, healthy bodies with a limited amount of stress. What are you doing to make sure you’re living your life that way?

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Your Journey to Less Stress

Join me and others from around the country for my next Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience coming to Chicago, IL on November 10-11, 2016. This two-day, intensive, “boot camp” style program is all about teaching you the 12 Keys to Extraordinary Success and Incredible Happiness.

Day 1 is all about motivating yourself to achieve more than ever. Peak Performers… in any profession… at any level… have invariably mastered the 6 keys to personal and professional transformation. They have mastered the keys of self-esteem, purpose, goals, attitude, risk, and balance.

Day 2 is centered on bringing out the best in others. It doesn’t matter whether you are an executive, a manager, a pastor, a team leader, a coach, team member, employee, parent or spouse; you’ve got to work with people. You’ve got to know what motivates them and what kinds of things build solid, cooperative, and lasting relationships with those other people.

Carolyn Krumrey, Chief at Nasa, had this to say about her experience at my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary:

“What would I change about the ‘Journey?’ Nothing. You have made the greatest impact on my life of any public speaker. This program is terrific.

There’s never been a better time to take your own Journey to the Extraordinary. To lock-in your spot at the lowest registration rate, and to receive more than $1700 in bonus materials, use the button below.

I look forward to seeing you in Chicago this November 10-11.

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