You just get off the phone with an irate customer who yells at you for not receiving her order in time for a major event. You’re feeling very tense and stressed out right now. What do you do? One of the quickest and easiest ways to counter stress is available to you at any time –- which is breathing.
When we become stressed, we tend to breathe shallowly from the chest. The antidote to this is deep breathing from the belly. Studies show that as little as one full breath starts to turn tension into relaxation. With just a half a dozen deep breaths your body can be in a state of relaxation.
Try it out for yourself.
Make yourself comfortable in your chair, and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Take several long, slow, deep breaths, breathing in fully and exhaling slowly. Close your eyes, and allow your breath to find its own natural rhythm. Become aware of your stomach, as it expands on the in-breath and relaxes and contracts on the out-breath.
Count to five on the in-breath and say “relax” to yourself as you slowly exhale. If you’re distracted and your minds wanders from counting, then simply notice the distraction like clouds floating by, and return to focus on your breathing.
Next, bring your attention to the area of your body where you experience tension or tightness, and imagine that area releasing and relaxing each time you exhale. Continue focusing on your breathing and releasing tension until you feel very relaxed.
Then, when you’re ready, open your eyes, and return fully alert to the present moment.
Use this relaxation technique whenever you’re feeling especially tense – at the office, in your car, or at home. You’ll find that in a matter of minutes you can let go of tension (and forget about that irate customer!).
You’ve just hung up the phone with an irate customer who “read you the riot act” for not receiving his order on time. You’re feeling uptight, tense and stressed out! What do you do? Do you take it out on your co-worker who stops by your desk to ask a question? Or do you find a way to calm yourself?
These are the occasions in which we wish we were someplace else – like on vacation where we’re laying on the beach on a remote island. Well, you can go there – if only in your mind. Visualization is a great way to relax yourself. You can take a little vacation in your mind for a few minutes, and come away feeling refreshed and revitalized.
Try this exercise. Shut your eyes, and take a slow, deep breath. As you breathe in, feel the tension in your body. As you breathe out, imagine the tension flowing out of your body. Take several deep breaths until your body feels completely relaxed. Now let your mind go back to a time and place in which you felt totally relaxed. It may be a favorite vacation spot, a childhood experience, or special time spent with a loved one. Relive that experience as you continue to breathe deeply. Transport yourself to that time and place. See yourself in your imagination doing what you did then – seeing the sights, hearing the sounds, and smelling those smells. Mentally relive that previous time and place until you feel wonderful relaxation wash over you. When you’re ready, open your eyes and come back to the present time.
I’ve used this exercise when I’ve felt like I couldn’t take it anymore and needed a break. It helped refresh me so I could focus on work again. So the next time you’re feeling tense and upset, take a little vacation in your mind. It will do you wonders!
If you’d like to learn more relaxation techniques you can do in the moment, then listen to “Managing Workplace Stress” CD.
With the holidays upon us, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating, baking, etc. It can feel a little overwhelming at times. Hopefully, you’ll take time out in the next couple weeks to really enjoy the holidays. This is a time to celebrate with family and friends.
Don’t forget that throughout the year we also need to take breaks from the daily grind to have fun and enjoy ourselves. These regular times of leisure will renew and refresh us, so we can continue to be productive throughout the days and weeks ahead. Here are 5 fun ideas to consider:
- Do at least one thing you enjoy each day, whether it’s reading a magazine or watching your favorite sitcom.
- Take a vacation and leave work behind! (No checking e-mail or voicemail while on vacation).
- Take time to pamper yourself each week – get a manicure, take a bubble bath, or get a massage – whatever makes you feel special!
- Take up a sport or hobby that you enjoy (tennis, golf, needlework, dance, collecting coins, you name it).
- Take time out to laugh! Tell a joke, a funny story, or watch a funny movie.
How about you? What do you do for fun and enjoyment? Please share with other readers.