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Stress, Fear & Creating a Career/Life You Can Love

    There is great ongoing interest in the subject of stress. In my work helping people create new career and life paths, stress is the very first issue we embark upon in many cases. It is a huge problem that is overlooked by too many workplaces, as well as individuals.

    The World Health Organization has deemed job stress a "worldwide epidemic." And, according to Monster.com, job stress and related problems cost American companies an estimated $200 billion plus, annually. Stress results in employee absenteeism, turnover, accidents, and errors, which cost employers and employees time and money.

    Fear and Stress

    Stress can be traced back to fear.

    You may disagree, and say, for example, that it is your job that is causing your stress. So, why don't you quit your job? Fear. Fear of the loss of finances, among other benefits and perks.

    Fear translates itself into a host of worrying thoughts about your health, your finances, your job, your relationships, your safety, and just about anything else you can put a "your" in front of. We all know the saying, "Worry doesn't help matters any." So, how can you stop your mind from racing, from playing this endless screenplay of worry?

    Let's Talk About Worry

    How many of you out there in cyberland believe that in order to solve a problem you must worry about it? Wowie! I see a sea of hands out there. People have told me that they don't want to let themselves relax too much, because then they might be caught off guard. That they will forget what they need to worry about, and then their problems will become bigger.

    Now, readers, is that a limiting thought, or is that a limiting thought?

    This is exactly the type of Catch-22 thinking that will keep you forever in a limbo-world of fear, worry and anxiety. In fact, I dare say that many have come to be dependent upon and addicted to the adrenaline that worry releases into your system. If it's not there, you feel uneasy.

    Such harmful beliefs are no longer useful for you. They were ingrained into you most likely by people who meant well for you. But, these thoughts are no longer serving you, and it is time to set yourself free by letting them go.

    The Object of the Game...

    Is relaxation. How can you relax? No, let's change that to "How can you allow yourself to relax?" Let us count the ways. If you are rushed for time, read Point #1 below, and then consider the ways in which you might make some adjustments.

    1. Don't play victim.

    How much stress will you take before you finally stand up to those who are making your life miserable? Your boss? Co-workers? In-laws? Family members?

    How many more times will you tell yourself that you must suffer with this or that situation because of: the mortgage, the kids, your loans, making ends meet, or the sake of a relationship?

    Worthwhile reasons? Yes. Worth the price of your health and well being? Only you can answer that for yourself. How much is too much?

    The moment you stop viewing yourself as a victim without options is the moment you will feel the weight of the world lift off of your shoulders.

    There are always options. Evaluate yours. Then, develop the courage to take advantage of them.

    2. Relax Your Mind Throughout The Day

    Take mental breaks throughout the day, in which you deep breathe, close your eyes, and visualize something pleasant. A loved one, or something/someone that makes you feel good. Take even a mere 60 seconds to do this, and you will notice a positive change in your countenance. You can easily find times during the day to practice this technique fairly inconspicuously.

    Use this technique regularly, even when you are not feeling particularly stressed. This technique will help you maintain a peaceful composure.

    And, for stressful times during the day, for example, on a crowded train, or during rush hour on the freeway. Rather than steaming and fuming, relax, and find something pleasant that will get you through. I keep cassettes and CDs handy in my car and can always manage to learn something new. My car becomes my classroom.

    Mantra:

    During your relaxation time, and anytime you feel your stress level rise, try repeating a mantra that will relax you. "All is well," or "I love the world, the world loves me," are some of my favorites.

    3. Journal

    This is a very effective way to release whatever is bottled up inside of you. Sit for at least 30 minutes a day, and write, stream-of-consciousness style, in your journal. Don't censor. Let it all hang out. You will be amazed, over time, at how you will see your situation with more wisdom and clarity. Solutions will come to you, seemingly out of the blue. But those solutions come as a result of you investing the time to get to know yourself better.

    4. Clear Your Mind At Bedtime

    Do you fall asleep with the late night news playing in the background? Or, perhaps a gruesome crime documentary or movie? Time to change the channel.

    Try picking up a relaxation cassette/CD and play that as you fall into a slumber. Listening to a voice that encourages you to relax, to release, to forgive, to forget, and that gives you tools for empowerment, can be a very effective way to de-stress. This is also an effective tool in fine tuning your thought life.

    5. Say "No"

    You know what your priorities ought to be, and only you can cut out the extraneous time wasters so that you can focus on what really matters to you. Don't be pressured by others into giving away your precious time and energy. Moderation in everything. And, remember the story about the rocks in the jar. Get that biggest rock in first - the absolute must "to-do" thing on your list. All the smaller rocks can fit in afterward.

    6. Exercise

    Exercise releases endorphins into your bloodstream, and this releases stress. Sweat releases toxins. If there's one thing I've learned from living in Asia, it is that a regular healthy sweat is absolutely necessary for good health. Because of this, I've learned to exercise in moderation even in the heat, and to use air conditioning sparingly.

    Can you challenge yourself to exercise a minimum of three times a week, and work up a healthy sweat for yourself to release those toxins? It is advisable to seek a physician's guidance to find a fitness program tailored to your needs.

    7. What Do You "Fill Your Tank" With?

    Think of yourself as a car. If you poured sludge into your car rather than gasoline, would you expect it to run?

    Same with your body. If you preservatives, chemicals, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and an abundance of fat into your body, why would you expect them to run optimally?

    As you know, the human body needs vitamins, minerals, roughage, and natural ingredients in order to run. If you are regularly consuming processed foods, chemicals, drugs, or an abundance of sugar, caffeine and fat, consider teaming up with a professional to get your diet back on track. You should notice a dramatic increase in energy. You'll notice a difference in your ability to think clearly and to stay positive.

    It was not too long ago that many of us chuckled about being a few pounds overweight, or overindulging in vices such as alcohol, tobacco, fat, sugar and preservatives. These days, however, the research overwhelmingly tells us that fat and preservatives/chemicals are no laughing matter. Eating healthily and staying fit are not options, but necessities if you'd like to increase your chances of living a full, healthy life.

    Same with your mind. That is also a tank of sorts, and if you fill it with garbage, such as negative and worrisome thoughts, there is not much option but for those thoughts to play themselves out in your reality.

    To summarize, stress is a very common ailment, much overlooked, but each of us has the right and the responsibility to make choices that will give us freedom from daily stressors. By taking time out during the day to know yourself, and by practicing relaxation techniques, you will find relief and solutions to your concerns.

    Has this article helped you? Do send us your comments: mail@HersheyWier.com

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    � 2003Hershey Wier, MBA, is a Career & Life Transitions Specialist who offers holistic, creative approaches to successful career and life transitions. You can receive tips & inspiration via her free newsletter, The ANEWIST. subscribe-anewist@hersheywier.com.

    Hershey Wier