"Hari-hari werk werk werk werk werk"
We're not just making this list up either, we got an actual author to give us some advice. And who better to teach us how to overcome stress than the author of You Deserve Happiness, Jit Puru. In his words, "Emotions are described as states of mind that are associated with either physical or psychological experiences. What this means is that emotions, whether positive or negative, need to be triggered in order to surface. With the right trigger, we can feel any emotion we want, at any given time." So with that, let's find out from Jit Puru, how to overcome the dreaded stress we all experience when we put our pants on in the morning for work:
1. Smile More
Something extraordinary happens when you smile. Over and above radiating warmth and comfort to others around you, it is also almost impossible to feel a negative emotion like stress when you're smiling! Smiling is an ability we all have and is an act that is absolutely phenomenal. Unfortunately, most of us severely underutilise this powerful resource.
2. Create A Happy Playlist of Songs
Throughout the centuries it has been well and widely known that music can influence human emotions. Therefore, always keep with you a playlist of happy songs. I call my playlist ‘Immediate Happiness’; it is filled with songs that I know will get me moving to the beat and humming along. Good choices of songs are ones that inspire you or get you smiling. This calming state has a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce stress hormones such as cortisol.
3. Indulge in Physical Activities
What is the one activity that you know for a fact will take your mind off any negative emotions you are feeling? We all have at least one such activity. For some, it might be singing or dancing while for others it might be hitting the gym or exercising in nature. My personal favourite is going for a jog outdoors; it does the trick every time for me. Whichever this activity is for you, make sure it is positive and healthy. Focus your energy on positive activities that result in long-term, sustainable results. While it may not be possible to go for a jog during working hours, try finding a place to do 5 to 10 jumping jacks to get the blood flowing.
4. Change Your Environment
We tend to feed off energy from our environment (the things around us). If the environment you're in is sending your emotional state spiralling downwards, a quick fix is to switch your environment to a positive one. For instance, stepping out of the office and going for a brisk walk if you need to clear your head, or walking away from a possible unnecessary argument – right before it begins. If the space that you're in (eg., your office space or cubicle) is the cause for triggering stress, then a fix is to give this space a make-over to improve the mood (eg., put up motivational posters).
5. Feed Your Brain With Knowledge
One of the very first things I did to have better control of my emotional states was to feed my brain with the knowledge to do so. I made it a habit to read any book I could get my hands on, as long as it helped me with personal mastery. Remember to do this frequently and especially during the times you're feeling stressed, as it will help shift your perspectives back on track. If reading books isn't much of your thing, then keep something motivational like quotes or videos within your reach.
6. Get Enough Sleep
There is a close relationship between stress and sleep. Most of us know that stress can cause us to lose sleep, but not everyone is aware the lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress.
7. Eat Right
Stress eating is real! When we're feeling stressed, we often find comfort in eating and this is definitely a viable option to relieve stress. Unfortunately, the things we choose to eat while feeling stressed up may not be doing us any favours. Avoid sugary and fatty snacks as your go-to stress relievers and go for fruits and vegetables instead. High levels of omega-3 fatty acids have shown to reduce the symptoms of stress, so have a tuna sandwich with lots of fresh lettuce and tomatoes is an excellent choice.
8. Take a Deep Breath
Find a nice and quiet space with minimal distractions, close your eyes, and take a deep breath! Take five seconds to inhale through your nose; hold your breath for three seconds; and take five seconds to exhale through your mouth. Do this simple exercise for about 3 – 5 minutes to put yourself in a calm and focused state of mind.
9. Call a Positive Friend
One of the worst things to do when feeling stressed up is to bottle it in and keep it to yourself. A good idea is to get it off your chest by talking to someone about it. However, make sure you’re talking to the right people. Sharing stories with someone who is also feeling negative may only worsen your emotional state (and your friend’s) simply because there’s a high chance the both of you may end up exchanging “who had a worse day” stories instead.
10. Laugh It Off
Laughter is indeed the best medicine! Laughter releases endorphins which improves mood and decreases the levels of stress causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughter is one of the fastest ways to start feeling happy. Suggestion: keep a collection of comedy clips or jokes.
Points 1 – 5 were excerpts from Jit Puru's book available here. His book, You Deserve Happiness, teaches you how to master your emotional and mental states.