Psychological stress is one of the most destructive internal forces affecting your body and mind. Many in our profession struggle daily to keep stress at bay so we can perform at our best and maintain good health. Following are a few simple things you can do right now to help fight stress:
Get a pet.
Research supports the notion that caring for a pet reduces stress, gives your life a greater feeling of meaningfulness, and even improves physical health. Besides, a house with a yapping Yorkie, a hairball-spewing feline, and a teenager’s cage full of quarreling rats will make your office seem like a blissful refuge in comparison.
Take a dance class.
Dancing requires the physical exertion and singular mental focus that frees your mind from stress. It also allows you to frustrate and perhaps injure yourself and your partner while simultaneously embarrassing both of you in front of a room full of strangers. For an hour or two, at least, this will make you forget all about the mess you face at work the next morning.
Meditation allows you to live entirely in the moment, apart from the concerns of past and future events that normally clutter your mind. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and concentrate on nothing but the rhythm of your breathing. Ignore that raspy sound that could be an early sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Put everything out of your mind, like the fact that you haven’t done your taxes yet. Disregard entirely those five files sitting next to you that you were supposed to do something about two weeks ago, or the ringing telephone that’s probably your best client calling to fire you.
Go to a sporting event.
If you’re in downtown Seattle this summer, take a leisurely walk to Safeco Field for a Mariners game — well, OK, that’s not such a good idea for relieving stress. Well, there’s always the Sonics — oh, wait. Instead, go online and find a ticket to a Seahawks game for the fall, which ought to cost you no more than $400. Join in with a relaxing 113-decibel “Beast Mode” chant while a team that lost half its players to free agency after the Super Bowl tries to live up to your unrealistic expectations.
Learn to cook.
Immersing yourself in the history and art of the culinary skills will give your brain a break from the daily stresses of work. Leave the cares of the office behind and occupy your mind instead with the techniques perfected by the world’s great chefs to avoid mutilating your hand with a razor-sharp paring knife; dodge the tiny hygienic mistakes that can lead to infecting your guests with botulism, E. coli, salmonella, or norovirus; and attempt to miraculously keep five dishes at the proper temperature until serving time.
Start a garden.
Many Northwesterners live for their gardens, which not only provide hours of stress-relieving weed pulling, rototilling, and hauling of soil, but also produce miniature, bug-riddled versions of the fruits, vegetables, and flowers you can purchase from any farmers’ market or roadside produce stand. You can recognize avid gardeners by their serene countenance, comical purple rubber clogs, dirty fingernails, and nettles stuck in their palms. I would recommend avoiding these people, to reduce your own stress.