If, no matter the task, you have developed the habit of pushing, pushing, pushing through until you’re done and then moving straight on to the next task, the chances are that you’re living and working with an active stress response.
This means that the physiological changes that occur to keep you safe when you’re in extreme danger are running almost all the time: raising blood pressure; thickening blood; and causing hyperventilation, digestive disorders or sleep problems (to name a few). The fight, flight and freeze responses have a vital role to play when danger is round the corner. You need to be hyper-vigilant so you can escape a perilous situation. But they’re not appropriate or necessary in the workplace!
When the stress response is constantly active health is compromised – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Here are some simple tips to change this situation:
- Check in with yourself regularly through the day.
- Ask yourself “how stressed am I on a scale of zero to ten?” Amazingly, a spontaneous response is likely to be fairly accurate. If you’re above 6 on the scale, stop for 5 – 10 minutes. Breathe, relax, meditate, walk round the block, have a drink of water, stretch. In other words, give yourself a refreshing relaxing break that is focused on increasing comfort and ease. Then return to the task in hand.
- Plan ahead. Break down your tasks and day with regular (to become routine) buffer zones of 5 – 10 minutes each. These time slots are absolutely NOT for working. Instead they are for essential unwinding and relaxing. Spend time focusing on your breath; imagine your shoulders, head, back, neck and jaw slowly relaxing.
When you relax, the left and right hemispheres of the brain can pass information back and forth; logical thinking and creativity can flow.
Try these steps. Enjoy!