Stress is a normal part of life. Still, like anything else, too much can be harmful to not only our mental faculties but also our physical health. It is important that we reduce and control the amount of stress in our lives.

The basic foundation of minimizing the harmful effects of stress is to eat good feeling food, move and stretch the body regularly, and adhere to a good sleep routine that leaves you well-rested. You must figure out how best to fit your unique needs in these areas. When you do, this important foundation will keep your body more robust and healthy despite stress.

Learning to let your mind free of stresses and worries is also an important stress buster. Meditation and quiet contemplation are two methods of reducing stress. If you’re not into meditation, spend a half hour or so each night reading a good book in a comfortable chair or take up an enjoyable hobby. Anything that distracts you from the concerns of the day and allows you a chance to decompress can be a worthwhile activity.

Go for a walk in the park or get a pet. Get a dog and take the dog for a walk in the park. A walk outdoors in the fresh air can do wonders for reducing stress, as can a companion animal. It likely wouldn’t hurt to combine the two if you’re so inclined.

Play games. Card games. Board games. Video games. Whatever floats your boat. You could also try puzzles. Putting a jigsaw puzzle together may be a good way to spend your time. It’s hard to worry about work when you’re trying to find a matching piece! Or, do a crossword puzzle, word find, or sudoku.

If you’re artistic, you could paint, draw, or even just doodle. You could try needle crafts, sand art, sculpture, wood carving, sewing or whatever suits your interests.

Take time to listen to music or watch television. Take an evening and go out for dinner and a movie. See a play. Go to a sporting event.

The important thing is to take some time out for yourself. Find something that works for you and remember to take time to do it. Relaxing and recharging are important!

Practice Being Organized

We all face some amount of stress in our lives. Some stress is caused by situations beyond our control, making it all the more important to do what we can to reduce stress in the circumstances we do control.

One thing within our control is our level of organization.

While on the face of it, organization may seem to have little to do with stress levels, a lack of organization will prove otherwise in a stressful situation.

If you’re under pressure to find an item in a stressful situation, imagine how much more stressed you will become when you cannot locate it.

As you shuffle through papers, folders and drawers, your frantic searching may cause further disorganization, setting the stage for a later repeat of the situation. If instead, you can quickly locate what you need when you need it, your stress levels will be lower than they might otherwise be.

Naturally, the first step is to do a thorough cleaning, eliminating clutter and organizing everything that is needed.

  • Make sure you organize everything in a manner that makes sense for you, using a system you will remember and stick with.
  • Once you get organized, stay organized.
  • Each day, set aside a few minutes to get your work area back in order.

Ideally and when practical, follow a pattern where you handle each item only once. For example, when you get a new document or piece of mail, read it and then act on it, file it, or recycle it. Eliminate the “I’ll do it later” items as much as possible. Too often, later never comes because of other more pressing needs. Additionally, you won’t suffer the stress of seeing a growing stack of “I’ll do it later” items sitting on your desk. You can better focus on the job at hand rather than being frustrated by the amount of work left to do.

Being better organized will not eliminate stress, but it can help keep it at reduced levels. Plus, it makes for a better and easier home and workplace, so there is no downside. Get organized and reap the benefits of increasing your productivity and reducing your stress level.

Remember to Breathe

Feeling a little stress is a normal part of the working day but when stress gets to be too much it can affect your judgment causing you to make rash decisions. Or, it can affect you physically causing tension in your muscles, increased heart rate, or aches and pains.

The key is to keep stress at a manageable level. One way to do this is with a simple breathing exercise.

  • Sit still in a relaxed position with your back straight.
  • Clear your mind as much as possible.
  • Breathe in slowly, for a deep breath.
  • Hold, but only as long as is comfortable.
  • Breathe out slowly.
  • Hold.
  • Breathe in.
  • Hold.
  • Breathe out.
  • Hold.

Repeat often. Take a few seconds here and there. Use a simple breathing exercise on a regular basis to help lower your stress level.

Take Ownership

  • Your career is yours and yours alone. You have the power to create it and live it as an expression of your unique talents and energy.
  • Forget what other people think of your choices. Even though people often mean well, you will be the one putting in the hours so be selfish enough to do something you enjoy and to have fun with it!
  • Being yourself in your work gives power, creativity, and freedom. You are off track if you feel insecure or like a pretender at work.

Look Inside Yourself, You Know the Answers

  • Take note when you find yourself fully engaged in a work activity. If it feels as if you are in the zone, or plugged in and energized, or connected to something larger than yourself: Pay special attention.
  • Then describe it further…what are you liking about what you are doing? Is it this? Is it that? Keep asking yourself and you’ll know when you hit the answer that feels right.
  • Start general then get more specific in your description of what you like about what you are doing. For example, is it the communication or connection? Is it the performing or beautifying? Is it the helping or healing? Is it the organizing or administrating? Then add more detail by asking why.

Respect the Career Development Process

  • The beauty of a great career is in the way it unfolds.
  • Enjoy the present moment. Each small step adds up until you are absolutely ready for more.
  • Appreciate then forget when you felt lost or frustrated in your career. Through those times, you learned more about what you DO want.

Understand the Power of People

  • People can be powerful and brilliant in sharing their connections with others. Cherish and maintain your connections to tap into the power.
  • People can be dark, egotistical, and negative, but this is nothing compared to an individual in harmony with self. Recognize the negative as the weaker power and stay beyond it.
  • See and applaud the strengths of others as you do for yourself. Be a builder-upper who is generous with knowledge, info, and positive energy.

Be an Opportunity Bulldog

  • Take your individual strengths and mesh them into your public identity, and no one can take your place.
  • Research and understand the opportunities that exist because of the challenges in your field of expertise.
  • Present a passion for being or finding the solution and be unafraid of asking for the opportunity.

A few months ago, I had e-mail correspondence with someone I barely know who asked if I ever watched The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch. When someone comes by with a little tip like that out of nowhere, I pay attention. My experience shows that there is probably something I need to see there. So I responded that I had not, and thanked her for the referral. I watched some episodes, and I enjoyed the show. I also noticed an interesting phenomenon.

On the show, one of the main things Donnie Deutsch does is to try and get insight with each person featured on the show about exactly where and how they got that big idea. This makes total sense because that is the name of the show, after all, so people really should expect that question. Nevertheless, each time he asks it the person pauses for a moment and looks as if they are processing that question and aren’t quite sure what to say. As if they are saying to themselves, “Hey, that is a good question, where did that idea come from?” And, it is a pertinent question because essentially Donnie is trying to educate and coach people in his audience to find their own big idea and go for it.

I think the reason that the question is difficult is because when people have a great idea, they are often fully engaged in whatever it is they’re studying at the time inspiration strikes. They just know that they were busy following their noses, uncovering clues, letting one thing lead to another, and it all seemed obvious at the time…until they get this question anyway. Then they want to be able to tell others how to do it so they try and retrace their steps.

Creativity is something that we all have if we can open to it. I think the first step for someone who is just sitting there with no idea at all but desiring one is to remove all barriers to getting into the flow of creativity. Creativity can’t occur while sitting in judgment of every thought that pops into your head. One has to open and be comfortable with the creative process. Some people are very good at tapping into their creative source consistently; others might have to be reminded to let go and play a little.

Begin by exploring things that catch your eye, just follow your nose a bit and see what happens. Once you have gathered some info, give yourself a rest and see what your wonderfully creative mind cooks up. When you feel a little kick of enthusiasm, you may be on to something.