7 stress-stopping strategies

The holidays are fast approaching and stress comes wrapped in a bow.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

As the holidays roll around and the year comes to a close, many people find themselves under more duress personally and professionally. There are more deadlines, expenses, and potentially stressful interactions with family and coworkers. In order to remain productive and end the year on a high note, it’s important to maintain your focus and stay levelheaded. Here are seven (mostly) simple strategies to get through times of turmoil.

1. Practice gratitude. Anytime something goes wrong, take a deep breath and think of three things you are thankful for. This will help you put things in perspective and refocus on the positive things you take for granted.

2. Meditate. Meditation is a new addition to my daily routine. It is not a fluffy concept devoid of value — many highly successful entrepreneurs and executives swear by it. If you are completely new to the idea and looking for help, check out Headspace or Calm, two guided meditation apps that you can download on your smartphone, and start with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation in the morning or at night.

3. Work out. One of the best cures for anxiety and depression is moving your body. Hit the gym to blow off some steam or, better yet, take a walk or go for a run outside to clear your mind. This is a great way to get some “you” time and refocus on what’s important.

4. Write in a journal. Sometimes you just need to vent. Putting your thoughts in writing can be extremely therapeutic, relaxing, and help you work through issues. To begin the day on a positive note, start by journaling about things you’re thankful for and stating your intentions for the day. Before bedtime, note something you were thankful for that day, and then describe any situations that caused you stress and note how they could be — or were — resolved.

5. Treat yourself! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re doing things for everyone else and neglecting yourself. Even if your schedule is busy, find an hour or two during which you pay attention to your own needs and even spoil yourself. Go get a massage or a pedicure, take a trip to the mall to get that new item you’ve had your eye on, or grab a drink with a friend after work. Taking time for you isn’t selfish. To be the best employee, family member, and friend you can be, it’s essential to keep yourself in the best possible mental and physical state.

6. Get to work. The best cure for being in a funk is gaining positive momentum, so get to work on a new project or something that excites you. Give that first domino a small push and everything else will seem easier. When you dwell on feeling anxious, it’s usually when you have idle time.

7. Get a good night’s sleep. When you have a long to-do list, getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your future productivity and success. Numerous studies have shown that getting an adequate amount of sleep not only helps you achieve peak mental performance, but it can generate physical benefits, as well. Make it a priority to set up a schedule that allows you to get the number of hours of quality sleep your body needs.

These are just a few suggestions to combat stress during the end-of-the-year commotion. If all else fails, one of the easiest and most effective strategies is taking a deep breath. Breathe in for three seconds, hold it for three seconds, and then breathe out for three seconds. Remember that everything is “figure-outable!”

I’d love to hear what strategies you use to help you stay calm, focused, and productive when things get hectic. Shoot me an email at Jenna@JennaAtkinsonConsulting.com.

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building opportunities to local business leaders.

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