Someone once said, "A diamond is just a lump of coal that has withstood a lot of pressure." If that were the case, we should all be shining brightly by now.
Sure, stress can motivate us to get things done—that's the upside. But the downside can be really ugly. According to a recent study, stress can lead to physical problems such as high blood pressure, and can accelerate some effects of aging. And we all know that stress may contribute to emotional upheaval—irritability, anger and even depression.
Here are seven easy strategies—one for each day of the week—to help you meet stress head-on and conquer it:
Breathe. Yes! It's that simple. Breathe deeply, but don't hyperventilate. Inhale as though you were sniffing a delightful scent. Then stre-e-e-tch your arms high over your head as you slowly and completely exhale.
Set boundaries. Just like the stressed-out mom who sat in the playpen to keep away from the children, you can erect some barriers. Decide what you will do—and when. Better still, decide what you won't do and dare to say "no." Try to avoid anything, and anyone, who wastes your time.
Clarify your goals. Decide exactly what needs to be done, and plan a smart way of accomplishing each task. Oh, and give yourself a pat on the back every time you achieve even one of your goals, no matter how small.
Put yourself first. That's right! If you aren't functioning at your peak, your work and your relationships will suffer. Find time for yourself, and try to do at least one relaxing thing each day: Take a bubble bath, or read a chapter of a favourite book.
Give yourself a break. It's okay to goof off, cancel a lunch date, or miss a deadline now and then. In six months or 10 years, who will remember?
Get spiritual. Get in touch with your spiritual values, and align your plans and activities with them. For instance, read an inspiring book, then figure out how to incorporate what you learned into your day-to-day life.
Take five. Right now stop what you are doing to cherish the moment. Savour whatever you're drinking or eating. Or go outside and smell the air, the flowers and the trees. Feel the wind, sunshine or rain on your face. Listen for tiny sounds. Take a moment every day to marvel at the wonders all around you.