By Shannon Cannon, Member Relations Coordinator, OSCPA
When I was first asked to write this article on ways to relieve stress, my initial thought was “this has been done so many times. Can I really think of anything new and earth-shattering?” The answer to that question is “no.” However, there are certain things in life that are worth repeating until they sink in and become habits – like ways to relieve stress.
I, like you, don’t have a lot of time to invest in some of the suggestions that I found in my research, such as scheduling an hour-long massage. While I would love to do this, it’s often not practical and can be expensive. Thirty to sixty minutes of exercise was also a recurring theme in my research, along with getting enough sleep and eating a proper diet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that these things aren’t important to living a less stressful life, they are! I’m just saying that I’m going to focus more on stress relievers that you can practice even when you’re crunched for time.
- Take a short walk. Get up twice a day and take a walk around your building. Go outside whenever possible. Even if it’s just for five minutes, the break will help you re-energize.
- Touch something soft. Touching a soft blanket or scarf while at you’re at work can have a calming effect. Working at home or late into the night? Keep your pet in your lap or by your side so you can reach down for a quick pat.
- Jam to songs you enjoyed when you were 13. You know you have some N*Sync or Britney Spears on your iPod!
- Have a picture close by that always makes you smile. A pet, a child, a friend, a loved one – it doesn’t matter what the picture is, just that no matter what else is going on, every time you look at it, it brings a smile to your face.
- Let in natural light. If you sit at a cube for most of the day, find a window in your building to peer out of for a few minutes several times a day.
- Focus on breathing. Take a few deep breaths and find peace in your immediate surroundings before you start tackling your to-do list. It will help you feel more focused and ready to attack the day’s projects.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Also known as putting things into perspective. Will this matter tomorrow, next week, next year? If not, it’s time to let it go and focus on the important things in life.
- Think positively. Often easier said than done, but practice makes perfect and a less stressful life will follow.
In the words of the Dog Whisperer Caesar Milan, calm, assertive energy is all you need along with exercise, discipline then affection. I know this is generally applied to dogs in Caesar’s case, but it can be applied to humans too. Keep yourself calm by thinking positively and not sweating the small stuff. Assert yourself by learning to say “no” and by protecting your “me time.” Get your exercise by taking a walk – even if it’s a short one. Apply self-discipline to meet deadlines and remember to always reward yourself for a job well done. Now let’s tackle tax season!