“Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.” – Robert S. Eliot
It doesn’t matter who you are – a successful business leader, a factory worker, a homeworker, a politician, a famous celebrity, or the person who delivers the mail – we all get stressed, and it’s pretty much on a daily basis. Whether you’re trying to organize the kid’s summer camp or global disarmament talks with rogue nations, it can be the trigger that sends your own personal world into a tailspin. If you let it.
That’s the important point here – if you let it. It implies that you have some measure of control over important events, relationships, work issues, and that may well be the case. However, the real point is this. You cannot control everything (as much as you’d like to), and so your only true response has to be this – acceptance.
Written by Reinhold Niebuhr, a U.S. theologian and university professor, you may have heard these lines before:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
You would certainly know those words if you attended the kind of meetings I have done for the past 9 years.
My name is Andy, I’m now a successful thirty-something digital marketing entrepreneur, and a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who has stayed clean and sober for nearly a decade now, thanks, in part, to those words written above. For recovering addicts, stress can be a huge trigger, the result can relapse, and the target is you.
Fortunately, I made it into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center just in time (and, I mean, just in time – a rehab physician gave me 2 months and no more if I hadn’t walked/staggered through their door). In rehab, I basically relearned how best to live my life, my new life of abstinence. Much of what I learned has kept me good company on my recovery road, reducing the chance of relapse to virtually zero. But I’m always careful. I know too well that stress left alone is dangerous.
5 Easy, Proven Ways to Relieve Your Work-Related Stress
1. Regular Exercise
This is #1 because it truly is #1 – the very best way to not only alleviate feelings of stress but also to put you in a far better place both physically and mentally to deal with it should it rear its ugly head.
You don’t have to be committed to working out in a gym 24/7 to feel the benefit of regular exercise – around 30 minutes per session, either daily or every other day, will have a profound effect on the way you feel. Exercise gets the blood flowing, and releases those healthy chemicals known as endorphins – your body’s internal painkiller. Within a few weeks, you will have noticed a real change – and you’ll feel less stressed about what is going on around you too.
I hear a voice. “Hey, Andy, I hate jogging and stuff like that. There’s no exercise that I like.” A common response, I know. However, exercise comes in so many different forms that there will be one that you enjoy and will get you feeling fitter. You just need to find it. For example, dancing is exercise. Yes, it is.
Me? I’m a nut for basketball. Yes, I’ve done the gym thing and occasionally I go, and I run maybe twice a week, but I far prefer the teamwork, pace, and skill of my chosen court. Like me, there is a favorite form of exercise just waiting for you to get involved in.
And the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be able to deal far better with those difficult work situations that arise. Stress has no chance when confronted with a clear mind, a high level of confidence, and far greater energy – all of which will come with regular exercise.
2. Great Nutrition
You really are what you eat. Period.
Our food nutrition expert at rehab once said to me, “Eat crap, feel crap, honey.” Yes, she nailed it that day. Her class was all about this: If you eat a high sugar, high fat, or high carb diet with little else to help balance things out, you will certainly be left feeling very bloated, very tired, and very unhappy.
We need vitamins, minerals, and amino acids like we need water. Our bodies cannot function properly if it is denied these vital elements of life. Regular, balanced meals with these at the core will get your body running as it should. Word of warning: Never skip meals, especially when you’re at work because that only leads to headaches, lack of energy, and irritability.
Our jobs, be they in an office, a home, or a factory, take up a huge amount of our time and energy. It can even creep into what we consider our free time. A proven way of reducing work-related stress is simply to occupy ourselves for the benefit of ourselves, to use our precious free time for us, in the form of a personal interest, hobby or activity.
Feel that you don’t have one? Or are you thinking how you can make time? Look at it this way. Yes, we may have busy schedules, appointments to keep, and deadlines to make. However, if we don’t take a step back from it all once in a while, we will just become more and more stressed with no outlet for that stress.
It could be practicing yoga or meditation, it could be an art class, it could be a book club – whatever it turns out to be, it’s that all-important step back and a time to refocus.
4. Take Time Out
Here’s an unreal but true fact. Every year, most American workers do not take all of the vacation days that they’ve earned through their work. Crazy? I think so. Vacation time, spent with family or friends, is so important in both relieving any stress and also improving your work productivity.
The time you spend enjoying the company of your loved ones is valuable, revitalizing, and essential to your sense of well-being. However, spending time alone, with yourself for the company, is equally important. Always remember to take some “me time” whenever you can.
5. Learn About Your Triggers
As a recovering drug addict and a recovering alcoholic, I have learned all about my triggers, and how they could lead to a relapse. I’ve had to – the consequences of not doing so are too dangerous to contemplate. With regard to stress, I know what usually can trigger those feelings and so I prepare for them.
Therefore, it’s important for you to do the same – to learn what situations, events, and sets of circumstances can result in those feelings of stress. Find out what causes it, and prepare yourself.
Live to work or work to live?
Live to work or work to live? It really is a simple choice when it all comes down to it.
If you let your work consume you, stress is inevitable. If you can disconnect, and enjoy a full life outside of that, stress will become a thing of the past, or at least barely noticeable. By following the advice given above – taking regular exercise, ensuring great nutrition, enjoying hobbies, taking time out, and learning about your triggers – the question posed at the beginning of this paragraph will have an easy answer.
📌 What methods or steps do you use to cope with stress? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.