My last tip Feeling A Little Stressed Lately? really struck a chord. So many people wrote in to tell me it came at just the right time. It was a great affirmation for me that it always pays to tap into and follow my intuition.
That tip focused on what to do in the moment when you are experiencing stress (like an upset customer or an unexpected traffic jam). I’ll follow up with a few ideas in this tip that can help you work on the long term chronic stress of living in this “Always on” “Pedal to the metal” culture that seems to be prevalent in business and other sides of life as well.
Choosing your response rather than reacting to the circumstances in front of you requires practice. For me, it’s taken quite a bit of practice. It’s something I need to pay attention to every day. My long term goal of becoming more emotionally intelligent helps. My other long term goal of vibrant good health helps too. Stress is a killer and I don’t want it to get me. Instead I choose to practice Response-ability!
Reacting in the moment IS the programmed response built in for survival and as I said in the last tip when we need it for actual survival it’s mighty handy, but when we allow it to hijack us continually it shuts down the part of the brain needed to be creative and solve problems quickly (and it just plain wears out your body).
So in addition to the six “in the moment” strategies I shared last time, I’ve got six more for your long term well being and mastery of customer relationships.
Laugh often and well. Make sure to bring humor and laughter into your life – at work and beyond. Keep a lineup of your favorite funny movies handy so when you need a little stress reduction, it’s at your fingertips. Laughter is often the best medicine. Appoint a “Minister of Mirth” in the office and make it a revolving position so everyone gets a chance to participate in organizing the fun.
Find an exercise you love to do and do it at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Research is beginning to show that exercise is more potent than anti depressants! The wonderful book SPARK turned me on to the many benefits of moving on a regular basis – it’s good for the body and good for the brain. Harvard’s Tal Ben Shahar told our Positive Workplace group that not exercising is actually like taking a depressant drug. Get out the door and MOVE on a regular basis!
Cultivate friendships at work as well and after work. Gallup has identified having a “best friend as work” as one of the 12 core elements of employee engagement. In fact, it’s one of the most important elements. Encourage that water cooler chat! Flourishing relationships are an integral part of a life of well being.
Nourish your brain and your body with healthy foods. Cut way down on the sugar, the soda and the caffeine. They artificially manipulate your energy levels and eventually effect adrenal function and a host of other vital processes. Put more vegetables, fruit and whole foods into your diet. Nature has its own sources of sweetness. Fill the fruit bowl at work.
Practice being positive. We’re bombarded with negativity at every turn it seems. If you want to create a positive culture that yields positive customer and employee experiences you may need to practice positivity as diligently as you practice your golf or tennis game. Visit our Positivity Practices blog and share some of your own!
Choose a “recovery strategy” that strengthens your stress recovery muscle. I learned and practice the Freeze Frame® technique taught at the Institute of Heartmath. The more I use it when I’m not stressed the better I am at using it when I am.
Here are the Five Steps of the Freeze-Frame® Technique I practice:
- Recognize the stress, and choose to take a time-out.
- Shift your inner focus from racing mind or disturbed emotions to the physical area around your heart. ‘Breathe through your heart’ for at least ten seconds (I do it a lot longer.)
- Recall a positive, fun feeling or something you deeply appreciate and re-experience it; don’t just ‘remember’ it – recapture its energy.
- While immersed in that positive feeling, ask your heart for guidance to the most efficient response to the situation at hand – one that will minimize present and future stress.
- Listen to the intuitive guidance you receive, and bring it gently into the present moment.
This technique activates the intelligence of your heart and brings your body out of stress and into coherence. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes to access the state of calm it induces. It’s my personal favorite. I use it. I teach others to use it too.
These techniques as well as the six I shared in the last tip will help you outsmart the stress habit and bring you into a state of better health and well being. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of your customers!