Managing the Demands of Daily Life

We all experience stress. Read the statements below:
  • I do not have enough time to do what I need to do.
  • Day in and day out I feel pressured and hassled.
  • At the end of the day I feel totally exhausted and all I want to do is to go to bed after dinner.
  • I don’t know my spouse and children anymore.
  • Often I wonder if it’s all worth it.
  • I don’t know how to lead a happy and productive life anymore.

What is Stress?
Stress is the pressure to perform when we are faced with something that:

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  • we  perceive to be beyond our capacity or;
  • challenges our integrity as a person.

You can create your own stress by the way you perceive the circumstances in your life. Stress is not an automatic reaction. We make two appraisals that influence our level of stress in a particular situation. The appraisal involves the value we attach to the challenge we face and the perceived threat to that value.
For example, a professional who values his/her job, compared to one who does not, would be stressed if there was a real or perceived threat to the job that he/she values.
Strategies for Dealing with Stress
Stress is becoming a normal part of our lives. The following stress management techniques have been found helpful in effectively coping with stress.

  • Autogenic training:  The practice of autogenic training involves the repetition of affirmative verbalizations that inducerelaxation. Autogenic means self generation and refers to the manner in which our mind influences our bodily functions through self regulative systems.  Some autogenic phrases are: My heart beat is calm and regular; my forehead is cool and calm.
  • Progressive relaxation: Since muscle tension accompanies anxiety, relaxing the muscles will reduce anxiety. Progressive relaxation focuses on the difference between the feeling of tension and relaxation. This technique involves alternatively tensing (10 seconds) and relaxing muscles (20 seconds) in different parts of the body.  Start from your toes and work to the crown of your head. For example, to relax your hands make a tight fist in both of your hands until you can’t tighten any more, concentrate on the tension you feel. Let go and let your hand relax. Focus on the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
  • Guided imagery:Imagination is the most powerful tool individuals have to reduce stress. This techniqueenables you to use your imagination to transport yourself to a place and/or time where you felt relaxed. For example, transport yourself to a pristine beach in Florida and imagine yourself on the sands of a brilliant blue ocean under a clear blue sky…
  • Self-hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of intense mental inner awareness even though the body goes into deep state of relaxation.  In this state, the mind becomes alert and receptive to thoughts and ideas you or someone you trust presents to you. Self-hypnosis enables an individual to enter a deeper level of relaxation with a lasting impact. Self-hypnosis can be practiced with a learned routine or by listening to recordings made by a person you trust. Commercial recordings are acceptable, if they are made by reputable professionals who specialize in helping clients practice self-hypnosis.
  • Meditation: Meditation enables the mind to restore to normal functioning. Our minds work 24/7, as indicated by frenzied daytime activities and dream work at night, this results in mental fatigue. Meditation is best learned under the guidance of a trained professional. However, meditation recordings are available to supplement your training, particularly if the recordings are made by your teacher and/or the ones trusted by the teacher.

Stress is a part of our lives. In order to manage our stress we must keep stress levels within functional limits by practicing one of the relaxation techniques discussed above. For the best results practice, your chosen technique twice daily, mornings and evenings.  You should also set aside some time for self-re-generation at bedtime through reflection and contemplation.

Dealing with Workplace Stress

Fort Worth Business Jurrnal:

Most often we do not realize that when we go to work, we are thrown into a mountain of stress in addition to what we already deal with at home and in our personal life. This can be overwhelming for some of us. Learning to deal with work place stress can improve our lives.  Establishing work life balance can help us to live a stress free life.Work place stress can be traced to three sources:

  • Self-generated work place stress:  It will help you to realize that it is not what anybody says or does that produces stress, but rather how you perceive it.   If the meaning is negative we feel badly and become distressed.

We have a choice and we are not helpless. Reframing the issues and looking at the problem from a different perspective can generate alternative ways to deal with the situation. For example, if you receive criticism from your supervisor, view it as an opportunity to learn and grow, you would not be stressed.

  • Job-related work place stressBecause of the slow economy, many company leaders had to tighten their belts and cut their workforce in an effort to trim budgets. Often the workers at the lowest level are let go. The workers left are required to do the job of two or even three workers and their work load increases. In addition to their increased workload is extreme job insecurity.

To avoid being let go, learn a new skill and/or gain a new specialization so that you become indispensable to your company.  If you do lose your job, you will have a better chance getting hired with the new skills you learned.

  • Company culture of stress: As economic pressures continue to mount, stress begins to creep up. First it effects mid-level executives involving managers and associates, and then begins to erode the morale of upper management.  This creates a company culture of stress throughout the organization.

Company leaders can reverse this by reaching out to workers and listening to their concerns, acting on the feedback and creating relationships based on trust.  Investing time and energy to create an environment of trust will foster creativity and innovation. This can help unleash a new and more vibrant company culture.

Stress not only has a personal impact on the individuals in a company, but it also has economic impact. Stress can cost companies up to $200 billion a year.  Fortune 500 companies have been able to avert this cost by engaging executive coaches to deal with work place stress and enhance productivity. Results have shown return on their investment was 1 to 6, that is for every dollar spent on creating a stress free environment, the company made six fold profits.

Benefits of Practicing Meditation

Our smart phones allow us to be available 24/7. We have access to social media, email and Internet at all time. Being constantly connected can be exhausting. Meditation can be a powerful resource for individuals in a stressful world.

In order to benefit from meditation you must understand the preventive nature of meditation, it is not designed to solve your problems but to empower you to do so. In addition, you must make a commitment to practice meditation on a regular basis by setting it as a priority and as an investment in your well-being.

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This self-discipline and commitment to meditation can be very rewarding, but it will require patience, persistence and practice to reap the following benefits:

Stress Reduction: It does not matter where the stress comes from, it is the elevated levels of stress that are poisonous, and meditation keeps it within functional limits. This enables you to overcome disorders such as insomnia, headaches, heartburn, ulcers etc.

Present Moment Awareness: Being in the moment enables you to respond to circumstances and events around you and you are able to deal with the challenges you face in life.

Focused Attention: Awareness of the moment in time enables you to develop inner focus that translates into certain levels of inner concentration in meeting the demands of daily life.

Synergy: The enhanced capacity to stay focused in meeting the challenges you face will enable you to create synergy, a positive energy that energizes and motivates you.

Balance:Meditation enables you to respond rather than react to challenges in life by empowering you to establish balance in your life.

Inner Peace: Continued balance leads to inner peace.

Pre-sensing: In a state of inner peace you are able to pre-sense your future and bring into the present your best future potential.

The return on investment of time and energy in practicing meditation is 1 to 6. It empowers you,  the most important resource for personal and professional growth. To ensure these benefits of meditation, I strongly suggest that you learn meditation under the proper guidance of trained teacher. Further, be aware that even though it may take half an hour to learn to practice meditation it takes sustained practice on your part to reap all of its benefits.