Eight Ways to Drive Yourself Calm, Not Crazy

by Diane Berenbaum

Between your work, errands, and family commitments, you may not realize how much stress you’re under. However, your body is well aware of it. According to Henry Emmons, MD, author of The Chemistry of Calm,“When you repeatedly get stressed, your nervous system stays keyed up, so even small amounts of stress can make you feel overwhelmed.” All that tension can disrupt your thinking, wear you down, and may even start a chain reaction of health problems.

Yet, you can bring more calm to your hectic life. Here are eight ways to drive yourself calm, instead of crazy:

1. Identify your stressors, and strive to avoid them
How often do you purposely avoid the things that stress you out? And, how many times do you succeed in these endeavors? If you made a list of the top stressors in your daily life, you might be surprised to find that many of them can be avoided. Or, they can be altered to make them less debilitating.

For example, perhaps your day would run more smoothly if you structured your workday so that you missed rush-hour. Or, be clear about your schedule, so others are aware of your availability. Consider ways you can change your habits or adjust your routine, so you feel less stressed.

2. Do what brings you joy
Think about what makes you happy, and then pursue it…relentlessly! Do what brings you joy. It can be anything, from volunteering your time, to walks with friends, to playing with puppies. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it makes you feel good, do more of it! It will give you a broader perspective and lift you up.

3. Do one thing at a time
Our attention is essentially binary; in other words, we can usuallyl only focus on one thing at a time in any given moment. We often multitask to some degree, but delude ourselves about how well we do it. Yet, research shows that doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity and performance.

Plus, multi-tasking is exhausting. Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University, found that “switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing.”

4. Say “no,” when appropriate
Some people are uncomfortable saying “no” to other people. In fact, they’d rather inconvenience themselves than say “no” to someone else.

Our inability to say “no” is at the root of a lot of people’s stress. After all, if you were able to say no and feel great about it, odds are that you wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. You might even be at a point where you’re psyched about all the things on your plate… and when you’re truly excited about your projects, it doesn’t feel so overpowering.

5. Exercise—work it out with a workout

The Mayo Clinic found that exercise increases your overall health and sense of well-being, And, it has some direct stress-busting benefits:

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike can also contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements.
  • As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.
  • It improves your mood and your health.  Regular exercise can not only increase your fitness level, it can also build self-confidence and relax you. Exercise can also improve sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

6. Get more sleep
A lack of sleep can be debilitating. Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, which could mean you’re less able to fight off illness. You may also experience more headaches and pains, and you may even experience memory loss.

Consider setting your alarm for 10pm to remind you to get ready for bed. Aim to close your eyes and be asleep by 10:30, or a time that is aligned with your body clock. Your mind and body will be grateful for the respite.
7. Write down your thoughts, dreams, and aspirations
There’s just something about the process of sitting with your thoughts and gathering them into logical sentences that switches your brain into a very deep, almost meditative state. It forces you to think seriously, but at the same time enables you to zoom out and see the bigger picture. I have had many of my greatest realizations (and revelations) sitting somewhere with a pen in my hand.

8. Shift your focus; Focus on what soothes you and don’t forget to breathe
Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” When you’re feeling tense, you may get the (unproductive) urge to mentally replay what went wrong, over and over in your mind. Dr. Emmons recommends shifting your focus to your body instead. Find a quiet place to sit down, then take long, deep breaths from your diaphragm, and exhale through your mouth.

We may not realize it, but when we’re stressed out, we sometimes forget to breathe. We’re still getting air into our lungs, but we’re not breathing properly or in a way that is beneficial to our health. Instead of shallow breaths, make them deep and meaningful! When you breathe slowly, deeply and deliberately, your body shifts to a relaxed state.

Exhaling longer than you inhale deepens your breathing, which helps calm your nervous system. Emmons also noted that “You can even practice your breathing when you’re not stressed, so you know exactly what deep-breathing counts soothe you.”

So, take a moment, right now, and breathe in deeply. Exhale slowly. Then, breathe again and repeat. Feeling better already?

TOP 5 WAYS MILLENNIALS ARE DRIVING OFFICE DESIGN TRENDS

If there’s one well-known distinction separating Millennials from previous generations, it’s that they don’t live to work – they work to live. Priorities have shifted, so at the end of the day, it might not be the paycheck that matters most but rather the culture and a better work-life balance that keeps them loyal to a company. As more Millennials and Gen Z enter the workforce, the offices of the past are evolving into a more relaxed, open-minded, and hands-on environment that better suits the personality of newer generations. They’re driving office design trends that are bringing the workplace fully into the 21st century.

1. THEY’RE KNOCKING DOWN THE WALLS

Millennials prefer a collaborative, social environment, so the days of cubicles are over… long over. In its place has arrived the open floor plan concept. No more walls. No more dividers. No more disconnect betw

een employees. Simply a group of desks grouped together. An open floor plan encourages communication, building strong team connections and fostering camaraderie between employees. And the best part about this from a business perspective? Frequent interactions and collaborations can lead to innovative ideas and developments that benefit the company in its entirety.

2. THEY’RE DECORATING WITH PIZAZZ

Beige walls. Beige carpet. Beige desks – a.k.a. boring, boring, and boring. Modern, comfortable, eclectic – those sound better, don’t they? Yes? Then let’s kick the drab shades to the curb and breathe life into the space where people spend more than eight hours a day. Influenced by Millennials’ desire for an appealing workspace, offices are getting a makeover from floor to ceiling. It’s time for businesses to decorate with pizazz whether they’re drawing influence from the company’s values or inspiration from employees’ personalities. When your office is a medley of vibrant and engaging hues, it increases employee productiveness, so a splash of color really can make all the difference.

3. THEY’RE REPLACING THE OLD TECH WITH THE NEW

Born into the new era of technology between 1977 and ’95, Millennials are the definition of “tech savvy,” so they’re expecting a technologically up-to-date office space. Gone are the clunky desktops and miles of wires commandeering desk space, and in its place are sleek laptops and tablets. These devices can be easily transported from one side of the office to the other (Can you do that with a PC? I think not.), and all the information an employee needs is always right at their fingertips. Using the latest technology also streamlines and automates what were once time-consuming tasks, allowing employees to be more efficient and productive!

4. THEY’RE CREATING A VARIETY OF SPACES

Variety is the spice of life, and Millennials agree – especially in the workplace. Creating a variety of work spaces inspires a more engaging environment. Consider a large conference space with modern tables and chairs for important meetings. A collaborative room with a standup table and monitors for internal discussions. A small, sunlit area with large windows and a cozy couch for an employee seeking peace and quiet. When presented with numerous rooms and areas, employees can find the space that helps them be the most productive for the task at hand.

5. THEY’RE MAKING WORK FUN

The last and certainly the most important office space trend influenced by Millennials is quite simple: make the workplace fun! Remember, Millennials place a lot of emphasis on a company’s culture – will they be expected to work around the clock, or does the company believe in a work/play balance? Whether you put a pool table in the lunch room, place a ping pong table in a spare room, or hang up a hammock in a quiet room, providing engaging activities around the office will help your employees rest and reset their busy brains. After their break is over, they’ll feel mentally refreshed and ready to tackle what the rest of the day has to offer. Who says you can’t live a little at work?