Beat Stress Now!
It's everywhere, and sometimes—oftentimes—it seems impossible to escape. Now, relax and take a deep breath: Here's how to manage stress in four key areas of your life.
You don't need a boor of a boss like The Office's Michael Scott to feel supremely stressed at work. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety cites a survey that says 40 percent of American workers believe their job is "very or extremely stressful," and a recent Gallup poll reports that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job. Conference calls, e-mail, instant messages, meetings, social media, TPS reports—not to mention an unsettled economic environment—all conspire to make work one of the biggest stressors in our lives, especially for women. "I can tell you that, being north of 50 years old, the women's lib movement did not do us any favors in terms of the notion of balance between home life and work life," says Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, an obstetrician who is now vice president for government and external relations for Kaiser Permanente in Denver. "A big source of stress is that we know we're not balancing our work life and our home life 50-50. We need to recognize that at times work is going to trump home, and at other times home is going to trump work." Here's how to create a balance between being productive and managing stress at the office.
FOCUS ON THE TASK AT HAND
"Modern technology has given us all these gadgets to help us multitask, but research shows that we're actually not effective when we're multitasking," says Dr. Antonia Pieracci of the University of Colorado Denver Depression Center. "If a woman can fully immerse herself in whatever she's doing she'll likely enjoy it more. So we can reduce our stress—and be more effective—if we can actually be in the here and now."
MAKE TIME FOR MINI-MEDITATION SESSIONS
"Close your office door and just sit quietly for five minutes, or even two or three minutes," says Dr. Karin L. Kempe, director of clinical prevention in the Department of Population and Prevention Services at Kaiser Permanente in Denver. "This idea comes directly from my teaching [of] mindfulness-based stress reduction: Let your breath or the sounds around you anchor your mind so that you have a mini-meditation or mini-vacation in the middle of your busy day."
"Unless you're an emergency worker, there are very few true emergencies at our jobs," says Dr. Mary Coussons-Read, a professor of psychology and director of the Masters of Integrated Sciences program at the University of Colorado Denver. But if, for example, you have a boss that has a tendency to drop projects on your desk and say, "I need this tomorrow," you need to be prepared. "Be honest about who your boss is. Build in buffer time so you can finish the project, or know you're going to have to work a weekend every once in a while. We might have to do that sometimes; just don't make it a habit."