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“It is important to know which stressors trigger you the most so that you start learning how to manage those big ones first and how to proactively prepare for them,” John Kalinowski, life coach and mindfulness experts, says. You can start by setting an intention to track yourself for one week, and track the moments when you feel the most upset, reactive, or stressed. “You’ll start to see patterns and then you have to start asking yourself some deeper questions about why those things are causing you so much discomfort,” he adds.
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Drawing the line is not an easy task and will take some practice. “It starts with yourself, so it’s important to start creating awareness around when you’re stressed or upset and be able to ask yourself what triggered you and why,” Kalinowski says. First, you need to get clear on your role in the stress, and then you can start setting boundaries.
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“Any time you can take a step back from a situation that’s upsetting you, it’s typically beneficial,” Kalinowski says. “I don’t believe that it’s entirely healthy to stay cooped up in a windowless office all day regardless, so getting some time outside is almost always beneficial whether you’re stressed or not.” Take a break for a few minutes to get some fresh air and recharge. This is a simple recovery process – get outside and don’t think about work for 15 minutes. The world won’t end in the meantime.
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“Even just taking a couple of long deep breaths when you’re stressed or anxious can help to take the edge off and help you to manage your reaction,” Kalinowski says. If there is one thing you should do during your lunch break when you feel any stress, it’s breathing. It tends to get shallower when we’re upset or stressed, which just exacerbates the unpleasant feelings. “Look up at the sky and take some nice long deep breaths, then tell yourself that you can handle whatever you’re dealing with. You got this.”
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“Our brains tend to process information better by writing it down,” Kalinowski says. “So, just sitting down at the computer or with a notebook and writing about the situation you’re struggling with, you are far more likely to find some clarity and peace than you are if you’re just sitting at your desk letting it all snowball in your head.”
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Balance is key but many people make a lot of mistakes when they try to delegate responsibilities and task so they are more productive. It ends up backfiring. “One helpful first step in balancing your schedule is insuring that you start out the day operating from a calm and centered place,” Kalinowski says. Mediating, of which he is a fan, is one way of achieving that.
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Stress is often used as an excuse to eat junk food and drink alcohol. Neither is good for you; before your now it, your jeans won't fit and you have high blood pressure. Developing healthier response to anxiety is a better way of handling the tension. “It’s about flipping the concept of stress around and looking inward,” Kalinowski says. “It’s about learning to better manage the stress so that you have more control over emotions and therefore your habit of emotionally grabbing for the food.”
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Kalinowski cites author/speaker Brené Brown and her book “The Gifts of Imperfection.” “It talks all about how perfectionism actually stems from some form of shame, meaning it's typically a type of overcompensation for something that has happened or is happening in your life.” He adds that “striving for excellence” is a much healthier approach than “striving for perfection” because the latter is unattainable and, therefore, inherently stress-inducing.
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“Talking definitely helps,” he says. But not everyone has someone at work or has the type of work environment which fosters connecting on that level. “But we do need to have a few people in our lives who can help us navigate life’s stresses as they come up. Having a coach is obviously a great option, but also having a couple of friends who will listen, empathize, but also call you out on your shit is super vital as well.”
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“Humor and laughing are super healing in general,” Kalinowski says. “I always try to keep people around me who I can laugh with, and who bring that out in me,” he adds. But even if such people are not around at the moment, “there’s always something funny on television or a funny book to read.” Try the internet as well. “Unless we’re living on a desert island, we have options. If we’re looking for it, we will find it.”