Manage Your Stress this Holiday Season
Originally published: 12.01.14 by Pete Grasso
Whether because of the economy, our jobs, our families, our health or even simply our schedules — especially during the holidays — we all encounter some kind of stress. It’s a common problem that hits us, in varying degrees, almost every day.
It’s nearly impossible to eliminate all the stress in our lives. But, it’s not impossible to reduce stress and manage it effectively.
Many experts agree the most effective way to relieve stress is thrugh exercise. It can calm the mind and relax the body — and all you need is 20 minutes of exercise a day to feel better. Exercise, however, should be something you enjoy doing. A common mistake most people make is forcing themselves to do an exercise they don’t enjoy doing. This is something I’ve struggled with over the years. When you’re a big guy like me, starting any exercise program can be difficult.
Several years ago, I started slow with walking, then gradually picked up my pace to where I could actually run — albeit, not fast by any means — and eventually was able to complete several 5K races and even a half marathon. Throughout those years, though, I’ve gone through stages where I’ve let my running regime fall off and when I try to start again, I get frustrated that I can’t pick up where I left off. I have to remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s okay to start over sometimes.
It helps me to set a goal with a significant reward. For example, my current goal is to drop 30 pounds before the AHR Expo, at which point I’m getting myself something special — perhaps a nice, new suit or a fancy pair of running shoes. If you don’t enjoy the exercise, of course, then forcing yourself to do it is only going to stress you out more. Choose something you enjoy — any exercise is better than no exercise.
Along with exercise, a healthy diet is key to managing your stress level. Being healthy — through diet and exercise — goes a long way in conditioning your body to handle stress. I’ve made a conscious effort to eat healthier — eliminating a lot of the processed junk foods and other non-nutritious fare.
When I’m eating healthy and exercising regularly, not only am I less stressed, I’m actually sharper, mentally, at work. What’s good for the body is good for the mind. On the flip side, I’ve noticed skipping meals makes stress worse.
Booze & Caffeine Factor
I may eat healthy, but I still enjoy my daily coffee. In moderation, it’s not so bad — and I drink it black, so it’s nearly calorie-free. I used to enjoy cup after cup of joe, but found I feel better if I limit myself to just a couple of cups a day.
As far as alcohol goes, long gone are the days of drinking every night. Sure, I enjoy more than an occasional beer ... but I limit that mostly to the weekends. And I’m sure the stress I feel on Sundays is from watching the Browns, and not from the beer I drink during those games.
As a business owner, simply being organized in your everyday tasks can also help reduce your stress levels. When you’re organized, you have a clear-cut plan for the day and, when stress-inducing problems arise, you’re better prepared to face them. Your employees benefit from your organization as well — when you’re organized and your stress level is low, your team will feed off that energy and will also be less stressed.
Personally, I like to start each week fresh. Before I leave the office on Fridays, I make sure my desk is free of clutter and everything I worked on throughout the week is in order. I also like to spend some time on Friday afternoon planning the following week, so as not to stress about it all weekend. When I come in on Mondays, there’s nothing waiting for me from the previous week — or, if there is, I don’t have to search for it.
Stress is inevitable. How we handle the stress, though, will dictate whether or not it has a positive or a negative effect on our lives. I hope these few tips will help get you through the holidays. Remember, stress doesn’t have to cripple us — we don’t have control over the circumstances that cause stress, but we do have control over the methods for relieving it.