2008 Stress Management Tips
November - December 2008
Holiday Stress Management Tips
Improve Your Sleep to Improve Your Life
Sleep is very important to our overall health and well being. Getting good sleep is achievable for most people by following a few simple rules.
1. Keep your work and personal problems out of the bedroom. If you have issues about work or your personal life on your mind before you go to bed, don’t climb into bed. First, try to address these issues either by writing them down or by talking those out with the person(s) who can help resolve the issues. Either method will get them off your mind allowing your brain to relax and allow you to fall asleep.
2. Make your room as dark as possible. Even LED type clocks or radios can disturb your sleep. Our eyelids are very thin and any light will register with the eyes and cause them to send signals to the brain and this keeps the brain active and keeps us awake. If you can’t darken your room by closing curtains or blinds, try using eye patches made especially for keeping light out. Many airlines hand these out to passengers to help them fall asleep.
3. Use relaxation techniques to relax before attempting to sleep. Try breathing slowing in and out or visualizing a warm soothing place. Try meditation or praying to get rid of your daily problems.
Breathing properly is one of the most, if not the most important factor in lowering stress. Proper breathing is emphasized in every form of martial arts, meditation and even child birth. So what is proper? If you look at a baby lying on their back, you will notice that when they breathe, their stomach goes up and down. That is because they are breathing from their diaphragm and not the chest. Somewhere between being a child and becoming an adult, we moved our breathing from diaphragm to chest breathing. So let’s get back to diaphragm breathing.
Here are some breathing tips:
Balloon breathing or cleansing breath breathing – Pretend you are going to blow up a balloon. What do you do? You take a big deep breath, as deep as you can and then you blow out hard and fast to fill the balloon. Try it. If you are a woman reading this, and you have experienced natural childbirth, you were probably taught this as a cleansing breath. Doing this should give you an immediate sense of relaxation. I even recommend that people buy some balloons and hang them up in your car or office as a reminder to do some balloon breathing while driving or when under pressure at work.
Slow, repetitive, deep breathing – Everyone’s lung capacity is different and so the number you use on this exercise may be different from others. I use an 8-8-8 repetitive breathing technique. That is, I breathe in slowly and deeply to a count of 8. Hold this for 1 to 2 seconds and then release your air slowly to a count of 8. Now, do this 8 times. Don’t be worried if your number is a 5 or 7. Just make sure your breathing in is slow and deep and your breathing out is slow to the same count. Now try it and see if it relaxes you. It’s even better if you close your eyes while doing this exercise, but please, not while you’re driving.
Lower Your Stress by Learning to Say "No!"
Many people find it difficult and some even impossible to say no when asked to work on a committee, help with collecting for a charity, running an errand for a friend, spending time listening to someone when you have your own things to get done. Here are some ways to say no, without even using the word.
1. Not now – This softens the blow and keeps the door open for another time.
2. I have another commitment – No other excuse required: you honor your commitments.
3. Maybe I can help you find someone who can – This shows respect and concern.
4. I have a personal policy about ___________ (fill in the blank). By saying this, you put focus on a prior commitment to yourself without opening the door for an argument (useful, say when someone wants you to commit to working on Saturdays or give to a charity when you have a different one in mind).
5. I don’t want to take on what I can’t fully commit to doing well. This is a yes to a higher standard.
These suggestions are taken from Author William Ury