Stress creates Mess – 3 Tips to Reduce

Anxiety and stress seldom lead to anything productive. In fact, I know in my own life when I am stressed out about anything – ranging from getting everything done, a big client deliverable, or even money – I lose the ability to think clearly and make good decisions. It can be paralyzing and frustrating. I have a number of CEO clients who also are juggling as fast as they can, and they still are not feeling on top of their game. We have all been there at one time or another – and many have unfortunately made stress an integral part of their lives.

Thousands of books have been written about this topic; simply go to Amazon if you really want a deep dive on this topic. Yet, in an effort to keep it simple, here are 3 easy tips which I have found amazingly helpful in calming me down, clearing my head, and keeping me aligned.

1. Breathe. Here is what I mean: breathe in DEEPLY for 4 counts. Breathe out for 8 counts – ALL OUT, mouth open, empty your lungs. Do this 4 times. I have started doing this – every chance I get – when I am: waiting for the coffee to perk, holding for someone on the phone, waiting at a stop light, etc. It is amazing the energy and clarity I get.  I find myself consciously doing this 4-5 times each day and the energy I get (not to mention the peace) from this is clearing and purifying.

2. Take 10 minutes. Years ago when I was first introduced to the practice of meditation, I was intimidated by an hour+ long sitting practice. I had every excuse in the book from not having enough time to not being able to ‘turn it all off’ to believing that it wasn’t really working. I understand these excuses; and yet, I am a firm believer in the power of meditation. I have also found that simply being silent and quiet for a mere 10 minutes can start my day off in a beautiful way. For those who are interested in dipping your toe in the water, Susan Piver hosts a short meditation every day online that is simply fabulous.

3. Say thanks. The concept of the gratitude journal has gone viral thanks to Oprah and others. My executive coach stimulated this formal practice with me many years ago, and it truly changed my life. Most of us are grateful for many aspects in our lives, and many say thank you early and often to those in our lives. However, there is something miraculous that happens when we write down – even just one thing – on a daily basis. It forces us to take a deep, genuine appreciation for even the smallest blessings. Some days, when the day has not been the greatest, the only thing I may be able to muster is “thanks for my sister’s dog, Cleo” or “thanks for my morning walk”…and amazingly, that is enough to put a nice yellow bow on the day. Try it!

Sure, stress and anxiety are part of the human condition, yet these 3 baby steps have helped me keep perspective and stay aligned during very challenging times. What tips do you have to share?