By Web Editor Paul Diamond
Are you working such long hours to get everything done that you’ve hit your limit? Are your employees not finishing what you ask them to do or creating more problems with poor work quality? Do you often feel that if you’re not there to manage your business, important things will fall through the cracks or not get done right?
If this describes you, you’re not alone. Of almost 2,400 CEOs surveyed on the most recent Vistage CEO Confidence Index, 50 percent say they are more stressed this year than last. Only three percent say they are experiencing less stress, while 44 percent expressed feeling the same amount.
Stress makes you sick…and fat
Stress drives people to overeat, smoke, drink too much or lose sleep, and these problems lead to health issues. Chronic stress robs the joy from your life and lowers your body’s natural ability to fend off disease, specifically migraines, ulcers, heartburn, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and skin problems. As if that’s not enough, stress is also linked to increased abdominal fat.
Two kinds of stress
Stress release expert Dr. Bin Yang describes two kinds of stress. “Intense stress produces the fight-or-flight response and can increase blood flow by 300 to 400 percent to the lungs, muscles and brain. Chronic stress, the type found in the workplace, has negative effects on our health, emotion and performance.”
Chronic stress leads to anger, hostility or a feeling of being in a constant rush. More than 1,000 stressed attorneys were recently studied and found to be three to five times more likely to have a heart attack, says Vistage speaker E. Lee Rice, D.O.
Strategies to reduce stress
The following strategies can help when you’re not coping well with stress in your life. Every person has a stress “cup.” Once that cup gets full and overflows, symptoms begin to occur. The trick is to recognize when your cup is reaching “full” and have a method for pouring it out.
- Monitoring system. Give your spouse, children, friends, peers and employees permission to tell you when they see the signs of stress getting out of control. If you get angry and defensive, they’ll never tell you. Give them permission to speak the truth.
- Thought control. Says author/talk show host and psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith PhD: “Instead of just thinking about the worst that could happen, think about what the best scenario could be. Then examine what’s most likely to happen, and grab hold of that. Let your mind find a reasonably positive outcome and it will release your anxiety. If this doesn’t work, then you may need to roll up your sleeves and do something deeper about it.”
- Exercise. This is one of the best ways to immediately reduce stress. Moderate, comfortable exercise generates the relaxation response.
- Nutrition and supplements. The higher your stress level, the more vitamins and minerals your body needs. Eat healthy and supplement appropriately.
- Meditation. More than 1,300 scientific studies have documented the benefits of meditation. To meditate, put yourself in a place of relaxation and listen for that “still point” within yourself. Slow down your thoughts so you can have feelings in between your thoughts. Amazing neurochemical changes happen during meditation.
- Getting outdoors. Vistage Speaker, Dr. Paul Brenner recommends, “Time alone, spent in nature” as a way to refocus on the moment. Hiking on your local trail or sitting by the river can clear your mind.
- Relationships. Feeling connected to other people plays a major role in reducing stress. Isolation from others increases stress. “Our relationships with people give us a sense of connectedness, balance, perspective and fulfillment. Many studies show the value of relationships in strengthening our health and immune response,” Dr. Rice says.
- Music and the arts. Listen to music. Read a good book. Watch the sun set. Having multiple-senses imagery causes immediate neurochemical changes that enhance the relaxation response.
Other stress reduction strategies include:
- Having a positive outlook
- Play (fun activity without an end-result in mind)
- Helping others
- Express your gratitude
- Spiritual connectedness
- Deep abdominal breathing
All of these suggestions point toward one truth about stress: Overlooking play, solitude and significant relationships has potential health risks.
We encourage your participation and comments.
Also, please feel free to forward this blog to your friends and colleagues and to come back often.
The JK Consultants Team
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