Friday, January 3, 2014

5 Ways to De-Stress Before Work and have a better day than yesterday

Stress causes a lot of problems in our lives. When we are living a life full of stress, our immune system gets compromised. That means it is easier for us to contract a cold or something worse and feel sick. Stress can increase our blood pressure and increase our risk of having heart problems like a heart attack.

Work causes a large portion of America's stress. In a national study conducted by Harris Interactive titled “Attitudes in the American Workplace VII,” 80% of workers feel stress on the job. An alarming 35% of American workers say their jobs are harming their physical or emotional health and 42% say their jobs are interfering with their personal relationships. 

So what can we do? If work stresses you out, you're not alone. 4 out of 5 Americans feel stress at their job. That's a lot! And you can do a lot to help. These five suggestions are great things to try before you get to the office and absorbed in your work.

Deep breathing and Relaxation Activities
Taking deep, relaxing breaths is a proven method for reducing stress. Relaxation techniques activate the body's relaxation response which counteracts the effects of stress. Other relaxation activities include yoga and meditation.

Breathing Relaxation Exercise

Power Pose
Power posing is a way of using our body language to influence our feeling state. It has been proven that if we put our bodies, or faces, into certain positions, we begin to feel differently. For example, the very act of putting a smile on your face will make you feel happier.
Other examples are putting your body into powerful poses. When a runner wins his race, he naturally puts his arms up in the air. This is a biological response to winning something. Knowing this we can put our bodies into this position and begin to feel like winners. Scientists did studies on certain power poses and found that doing a power pose for as little as two minutes lowered levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

For those interested in yoga, try doing Warrior I pose. This posture is designed to open our chest and raise our arms above our heads in a very powerful stance. Hold the pose on each side for 2 minutes to gain the psychological effects documented by researchers.

Watch Amy Cuddy's TED Talk on body language.

Visualize a Win

Visualizing our goals and desired outcomes is the first step to making them a reality. When we have an outcome at work that goes against what we want to happen, we may feel stressed out. If we don't make the sale, if we make some mistakes, we may feel stressed. That happens because we value our job security and don't want to be out of a job.

You can counteract this by taking time to visualize the outcomes you want to experience. This is the process used by gold medal Olympic athletes. They visualize themselves winning their event and when they do their results drastically improve.

Ryan Lochte: Visualizing The Perfect Race


Another proven way to reduce your stress levels is to go for a workout. Not only will exercise make you look better and raise your overall self-esteem, working out lowers our cortisol level (stress hormone) and increase our endorphins (feel-good hormone). It's a one-two punch with maximum effect since we are lowering our stress while simultaneously making ourselves feel better. Make time for 20 minutes of exercise before work. You will thank yourself.


Sleep is like magic and magically, sleep reduces stress. But sometimes sleep gets sacrificed for the sake of doing more work. This is a huge mistake.

If we allow ourselves to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep we need each night, we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the work day. We're energized and our minds are more resilient for any unexpected problems that could arise at work.

If you have problems falling asleep, make sure you don't use any screened device for at least an hour before getting into bed. The blue light from those screens sends signals in our brain to remain awake. Keep out as much light from your bedroom as possible. Cover up any light causing devices like alarm clocks or adapter plugs. Even a little light can bother us while sleeping.

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