14 Stress Reducing Practices

By Forbes Coaches Council

Work is a leading cause of stress. When you’re stressed, it becomes even more difficult to take the necessary steps toward change because change can feel like just another stress. Furthermore, work stress may be different from other kinds of stress because it’s something you can’t control.

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While you may not be able to control the stressors you face at work, you can control how you react to them. We asked 14 professional coaches from Forbes Coaches Council what might be some ways to reduce daily stress. Here’s what they said:

  1. Control The Controllables

Deep breathing and progressive relaxation exercises can help you handle your physical and emotional response to pressure. A more problem-focused technique is to control the controllables. Wasting energy on things you have no control over can empty your energy tank and lead to frustration. Make a conscious effort to focus on the things you can do something about.   – Lianne LynePLP Coaching, LLC

  1. Organize Your Work Space

How can you have a clear, focused mind if you’re surrounded by chaos? How can you run a multimillion-dollar deal if you can’t find your tablet? Take five minutes a day to organize your workspace. Doing so will also help you organize your thoughts and give you — and your clients — peace of mind that you have a handle on things.   – Shauna C. BryceBryce Legal Career Counsel

  1. Schedule Downtime In Your Calendar

The modern professional schedules every moment of the work day in his/her calendar. However, when it comes to personal priorities, they often aren’t scheduled (eat well, exercise, spend time with family). At the end of the work day, often these priorities have fallen by the wayside of a busy day. Successful, busy professionals now schedule their downtime in their calendar.   – Lindsay GuthrieThe Career Path Partners

  1. Take Quarterly Retreats

One of the most powerful ways to stay creative and sharp is to get plenty of rest. So take time at the start of the year to plan personal retreats for each quarter. Take at least two full days away from work, and away from home. Go on your own, or with friends and family. Take a journal. Take your dog. Take a walk. Take a nap. But go — and don’t take your work. Monday will be a much better day.   – Wendy Pitts Reeves, C2C Consulting, PLLC

  1. Practice Gratitude

First thing in the morning when you wake up, acknowledge that you’re awake. Before your thoughts get on to all of the things you’re stressing out about, make a “thank you” list — in your head or on paper. “Thank you for my breath. Thank you for my bed, the sunrise, my toothbrush, my clothes, hot water, my heartbeat…”  Pick things you’re not resistant to and easily feel thankful for.   – Christine Meyer, Christine Meyer Coaching

  1. Become Aware Of Body Language

Stress is caused by cortisol — the stress hormone that slows down our metabolism and our thinking. Testosterone (for both men and women) is the strength hormone. Researchers at the University of British Colombia found that winning athletes use pride body language when they win. Leaders can use this too. Just roll your shoulders back, stand wide, and claim your space.   –Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

  1. Catch Someone Doing Something Right

Whether you are a CEO or front line contributor you have the power to influence positive action. Remind yourself every morning to scan your environment for a positive act, and take a moment to recognize that act. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a simple thank you.   – Dr. Woody WoodwardHCI

  1. Find Moments To Notice Your Breath

You don’t have to meditate for 20 minutes — all you need is 20 seconds. Use the passive moments when you’re walking from your desk to the conference room. Instead of asking someone to get you a cup of coffee, make your own. Take deep breaths while you watch the coffee drip and start your next meeting with a clear mind.   – Tanya EzekielCareerCoach.com

  1. Mind Your Mind

Pay attention on purpose. We tend to rush through our work days, allowing distractions and habits to dominate our time and energy. Paying attention on purpose means being present and noticing your thoughts and feelings, without necessarily reacting to them. In this manner, you’ll be able to direct your attention. From optimism to gratitude, what you focus on in your mind is what you get in life.   – Cha TekeliChalamode, Inc.

  1. Create A Life Plan

All too often stress is a result of failing to give enough attention and focus to all key facets of our life. A resource like the book Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt can give you a blueprint for creating a life plan that will help you stay on track with all areas of your life, rather than letting your career overshadow everything else and cause unnecessary stress.   – Pat RigsbyPatRigsby.com

  1. Find Ways To Laugh

Whether it’s slapstick comedy, bawdy humor, or the occasional knock-knock joke, find whatever makes you laugh. Countless studies directly point to the positive physical and mental de-stressing effects of laughter. Science aside, though, take some time to read or watch something that just tickles your funny bone. Even five minutes of levity can seriously lighten your stress load.   –Emily Kapit, MS, MRW, ACRW, CPRWReFresh Your Step, LLC

  1. Talk To A Friend

Talk. Vent. Share. Relate. Stress, like poor air quality, needs to be ventilated so that we can think (and breathe) clearly again. Stress can be isolating. Friendships change that. They give us new perspectives and they validate our experiences, making us feel less crazy and more normal. Ten minutes over coffee each week can be an incredibly helpful behavioral pattern to cope with stress.   – Priya Nalkur-Pai, Dr. Priya Nalkur-Pai

  1. Try Yoga Nidra For Power Napping

Yoga nidra or “yogic sleep” is an ancient technique of bringing the body into deep relaxation by lowering brain activity to a low-level while remaining awake. As a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and self-employed creative, I use yoga nidra as one might a “power nap” midday when I need to recharge without actually sleeping. Search for yoga nidra soundtracks to help you recharge in minutes!   – Dave UrsilloThe Literati Writers

  1. Create A Reference List Of What You Do To Cope

Decreasing stress is a personal thing. So too, are coping mechanisms. At a time when you aren’t feeling stressed, create a reference list of your personal practices. Post it where you can see it. Then you can easily pick the right one for a stressful time. As no one thing works all the time, the longer the list, the better. For example, exercise works, but not in the middle of the workday.   – Julie Kantor, PhDJP Kantor Consulting

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

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