Stress relief means taking time out for yourself

  • Published
  • By Daryl Gruneisen
  • Air Reserve Personnel Center, Director of Manpower
Ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right and you have more work to do than there is time in a day to get it done? Is it one of those days where you would rather be somewhere else, anywhere other than work? It's times like these, when stress builds and works on us, that we want to say, "Forget it, I'm out of here!" . . . gone fishin'.

I am by no means an expert on "stress," although I have experienced it from time to time in my life. So, what follows here are just my thoughts about stress, how I see it affecting our everyday lives and some ways I see eliminating some stress in our day. 

Of course, fishing isn't a stress reliever for everyone. Stress relief is different for all of us and can come from any activity of your choice. The point is you need a little relaxation in your day to help overcome the pressures, whatever they are, that cause you stress.

Stress comes from a multitude of events occurring in our lives and affects everything we do. When under stress, many people will snap at their family or co-workers, and can overreact to little things in their lives. People can become easily agitated, they eat too much, and it even keeps some from getting a good night's sleep. It can make life at home and at work miserable because our stress and the way we react to it affects everyone around us.

What to do? There are those in the medical profession who study stress because it affects health. And, if you do any reading about how to cope with or reduce stress, you'll find several constants in their suggestions: exercise, meditation, maintain a regular schedule and eat healthy. 

You spend a lot of your time at work, so how can you relieve stress and relax while at work? As mentioned above, exercise is a good stress reliever, and it doesn't have to be a rigorous workout. On your next break, instead of buying a pastry, go for a walk. There are also exercises you can do while sitting at your desk and includes tightening and relaxing your muscles - every muscle from your toes to your face. Try it!

Maintaining a regular schedule and healthy eating speak for themselves, but they take a little willpower. Meditation on the other hand takes practice and concentration. It doesn't do any good to meditate if you are going to concentrate on the issues causing you stress. The key here is to relax and take your thoughts elsewhere.

Relaxation other than during meditation is also important and works well as a stress reliever. Read a book, do some gardening, take a nap! You can even relax while at work. Sit back, close your eyes for a couple moments and think about something other than work. But, this is something you should do for a few moments not most of your day! And definitely don't let it lead to a nap! If however you slip into sleep because you are so relaxed that you didn't know it was happening and you get caught by your supervisor, try using one of the following excuses:

--"This is just a 15-minute power nap like they raved about in that time-management course you sent me to."

--"I wasn't sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm!" 

--"This is in exchange for the six hours last night when I dreamed about work!"

--"I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work-related stress."

On second thought, you really don't want to have to use one of these excuses. Your supervisor won't see the humor in them, and you'll end up in trouble. Keep your relaxation techniques quick and simple and don't let them interfere with your work. And, by all means take time for yourself; that's why you get leave time. Use your leave - put out the gone fishin' sign and get away from work for a while.