For every six minutes you experience a high state of negative stress it takes your immune system six hours to recover. That doesn’t stress you out – does it?!
Experiencing a rotten, lousy, no good, stressful day creates a chronic cycle that wears your immune system down, leaving you exhausted, sick and feeling even more stressed. The goal, however, isn’t to get rid of stress. Our brains are hard-wired for it, and we actually need some stress (called eustress) in order to function.
The goal is to short-circuit the negative cycle and here are a few ways you can do that.
Prioritize and Simplify
Reducing stress is not about creating balance, it’s about getting focused. Balance is a myth. Let’s get real – when it comes to life activities there is no such thing as balance, only priorities. If you strive for balance you’ll only add to your stress levels, but if you change your priorities, you will immediately start reducing your stress and feel more in control of how you utilize your time.
Successfully dealing with life’s pressures, demands, and hassles means you need to appropriately respond and manage the tasks at hand in order of priority. Create a list of what you value and need to accomplish over the next two days. (Don’t forget that YOU need to be on that list.) Assign each priority a chunk of time and then live within the parameters of that scheduled list. Follow up that time-framed list with another list of new priorities or re-prioritized activities. Every two days, or once a week, create a new list that outlines and accounts for all your responsibilities.
Simplify 1 thing each day. It may be a priority that you serve your family dinner tonight. It’s not a priority that you cook it. You can pick up take-out, or pull something out of the freezer. Choose 1 activity each day and find a way to reduce the time it takes, or the energy it requires of you, to complete it.
Place yourself in time-out
The purpose of putting a toddler in time-out is to re-set her attitude and improve her behavior – if only we could use that with our colleagues. Take some time to be silent and reflective, even if it’s just 3-5 minutes. By removing yourself from a stressful environment or giving yourself a moment to biologically shift, you aid your immune system in getting back to healthy. A few deep breaths while you’re in time-out is an added bonus.
Get a giggle
Laughter reduces your stress hormones and literally changes your body chemistry. Humor releases endorphins and antibody enhancers which aid your immune system. Schedule 30 minutes to watch a funny sitcom or read a humorous book. If 30 minutes just doesn’t exist today, then give yourself a five minute giggle and watch a YouTube video. There are many short clips of truly funny comedians and silly people who will definitely give you a smile.
Put it in perspective
Changing your perspective is the most effective tool you have for reducing your stress. When stressed out individuals scream, “I don’t have five bleep-ity-bleep minutes to watch a YouTube video!” there is one thought, one shift in perspective that helps a lot. “It’s only five minutes. Big bleep-ity-bleep deal.” There are 10,080 minutes in a week. Take 5 of them, so the other 10,075 minutes are more peaceful, more positive, and more meaningful.