Here I am just hours away from a writing deadline. I have a million things to do, and, I confess, I just remembered that my blog on leadership is due. I forgot to put it on my calendar, and one thing I’ve learned is that if it’s not on my calendar, I won’t remember to do it. Now I’m stressed.
Life is full of stressors. As leaders, we must learn to deal with stress in positive ways, so our influence continues to advance in healthy ways. Factors that cause us tension are innumerable to count but can include anything from life changes to job challenges, financial problems to relationship issues, and not to mention our chronic busy lifestyles.
For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. In small doses, stress isn’t bad and can serve to motivate us to do our best, but when we stay in a constant state of “emergency mode,” it has harmful effects on our minds and bodies, including memory problems, a weakened immune system, high cortisol levels and fatigued adrenal glands, an inability to concentrate, moodiness and irritability, feeling overwhelmed, digestive problems, disturbed sleeping, depression—and these are just to name a few.
Here are eight tips to relieve stress for a happier and healthier life:
- Breathe Deep. Breathing oxygenates the brain and body. Just a few deep breaths can help reduce tension, calm us down, reduce blood pressure, and relieve stress.
- Practice Visualization. Stop a moment, close your eyes, sit back and relax, and imagine yourself in a peaceful scene or a favorite place, or maybe visualize yourself accomplishing a desired goal. My favorite is to visualize a scripture like Psalm 23:5 or Psalm 27:5.
- Make a Positive Declaration. Along with visualization, I like to make a positive declaration of what I’m seeing. This also helps to stop any negative self-talk swirling inside my thoughts. I like to decree words like, “I am full of the joy of God’s presence,” or “I flourish in life through the wisdom that God gives me,” or “God directs my path, and I trust His guidance.” Negative thoughts and words work to reinforce stress; we break their hold on us when we rehearse positive truth.
- Pop a Peppermint! Eating and drinking something sweet is soothing because it stems the production of the stress hormone, glucocorticoid. It is why we reach for cookies or ice cream when we are stressed. The gut-brain connection is also called the “gut-brain axis,” and the gut we know is the largest of organ of our immune system. Though peppermint candy has sugar, it does contain peppermint oil that is not only cooling and energizing, but also good for digestion. It’s why restaurants often offer peppermints as an after-dinner treat. I personally enjoy peppermint not only as a treat, but also as an essential oil in my bath, in my diffuser, or externally applied for relieving stress and energizing my mood. It’s great!
- Plan to have fun! Put fun activities on your calendar. As entrepreneurs, it is easy to work all the time, but rest and relaxation are critical parts of a healthy life. It means turning off the whirling mind and doing something other than staring at your computer and working on your to-do list. Take time to have an outing or a new adventure with your spouse or a friend. Regularly.
- Dance like crazy. Movement is important to rid the body of stress toxins, whether it’s stretching, walking, or aerobics. One of the best ways to move is dancing! Dancing is a fun way to stimulate circulation, oxygenation, and help detoxify the body. It also helps brain stimulation.
- Get organized. Disorganization causes stress. Have you ever wasted thirty minutes looking frantically for a document or item that should have only taken you a minute to find if you’d had only been organized? I know the feeling, and it is stressful! One of the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneur (NACWE) leaders, Paula Tobey, recently wrote a great blog titled, “7 Sanity Savers for Organizing Your Life as a Work-at-Home Entrepreneur.” I recommend her tips to help you organize your at-home business life for an enhanced stress-free lifestyle. Check out this link: http://nacwe.org/7-sanity-savers-organizing-life-work-home-entrepreneur/
- Get over yourself. We all are prone to focus too intensely on ourselves, and we all need the reminder to not do that. Instead, give yourself grace! Life isn’t about you, your perfection, or your ability to get everything right and fix every problem. Life is about God and His good purposes. You are simply His child on a learning journey with Him. He will work things out as you give Him every area of your life. Lean on Him for His counsel, wisdom, and understanding in all you do, and let praise carry you through what you don’t get yet.
So, what do you do to de-stress?
J. Nicole Williamson is an inspirational speaker, author, and CEO of King’s Lantern International, a motivational ministry. Certified with AACC and a licensed minister with a Bachelor of Theology, she trains in personal development through empowered thinking, authentic identity, and intimacy with God. Her books include The Empowered Woman, Heaven’s Secret of Success, and Freedom in the Light. She and her husband live in the Dallas, Texas area. For more information, see www.kingslantern.com.