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Decompress Don’t Stress

Written by Jeffrey R. Armstrong – President/Owner of Armstrong Capital

Your favorite Master Note Buyer – Straightforward, Honest, Fair…

Here it is only a couple of months into the year and your desk is overflowing with work.  You’re constantly interrupted with office chatter, phone calls, emails, instant messages, texts and Facebook and Twitter updates.  You’re frenetically multi-tasking.  Deadlines are approaching.  Aaaaaaagh!

Sound familiar? It should, since many of us operate our cash flow, real estate and note businesses in high stress workplaces.  Eight in 10 workers experience at least some stress, according to a survey conducted by the Marin Company.

Some stress is good for you.  Certain workplace challenges are energizing confidence boosters and motivate you to learn new skills and develop niche business mastery.

But it seems that workers, especially self employed workers, are increasingly besieged with chronic, low grade stress, an invisible but sometimes crippling disability.  People are multitasking; starting work earlier, bringing work home; we are always busy, always available, always on.  There is no downtime, and that constant, back of mind stress is biochemically detrimental to your health AND success.

When you are overly stressed you may experience faltering memories and muddled thinking, and you are less productive.  Moreover, when you are stressed out you can experience a list of health woes – increased blood pressure and heart rate, fatigue stemming in part from sleep deprivation, headaches and tensed muscles, upset stomach, suppressed immune system and even weight gain.

Certain workplace conditions – for example, constant deadlines and noisy interruptions – may mean stress can’t be side stepped.  In fact, some individuals thrive in those environments.  But for many, the less stress, the better.  Fortunately, I have learned over the years, a number of helpful stress reducing techniques that I want to share with you this month.

Exorcise stress through exercise.  If you can’t fit in 30 minutes of daily exercise, consider briefly, periodically but intensely contracting or stretching your arms, legs and facial muscles for a few minutes at your desk.  Or try standing up and moving while on the phone, walking around the block or squeezing a stress ball.

You are what you eat.  Avoid carbohydrates such as doughnuts, cookies, muffins, white bread and junk foods like candy bars and especially full sugar sodas.  Instead opt for multigrain breads, milk, some soy products and blueberries. Limit your coffee and caffeinated drinks to no more than 2-3 ups per day. I like those bottles of green tea.

Musically inclined.  I have found that having my favorite music playing in the background that I can sing, hum and bounce my head to puts a smile on my face and that distraction helps relax me.

Plan and Prioritize.  Not everything is an emergency, in fact, most things are not as urgent as we sometimes may feel.  Make sure you know your tasks and be able to prioritize those dividing your tasks into “must do,” “may do,” and “want to do” piles.  This tiny organizational task in itself not only will give you a sense of control but lessens the chances that you will constantly worry about and lose sleep over your workload.

Friendship Factor.  Having a friend at work or at least someone familiar with what you do that you can call and confide in is a huge stress reducer.  Gallup surveys have shown that if we have at least one friend at work – someone we can joke with or vent with or share a fear – we will be more satisfied with our career and more productive.

Take a baby step.  Have you ever been so inundated with work that you are baffled about what to do next? It happens to me more often than I like, but that just increases my stress level.  I have found that it is better to finish one task, even an easy one, before moving on to the next.  By taking action you are taking control introducing a sense of order amid the chaos.  That in turn will motivate you to complete another task and then another.

Tickle your funny bone.  Laughter, a chuckle, even just a quick smile are all quick ways to reduce stress.  Humoring yourself provides immediate disengagement from a stressful situation.  Call up a friend to tell him a joke or look up the last email that someone sent you that made you laugh.

Put things in perspective.  When you feel frazzled, stop and rate your stress level from 1 to 10 with 1 being you missed out on that morning doughnut and 10 being you got fired.  Rating your stress puts things in perspective, which helps avoid over reaction.  You can also take something I call a ‘gratitude break’ and list three things that you are thankful for – maybe your health, career and friendships.  Your focus will instantly shift from what’s wrong to what’s right.  Even in the middle of a pressure filled situation, it’s calming to remind yourself that the stress will eventually pass.

Photo opportunity.  Humans are wired to instantly respond to visuals.  By looking at a calming image on your computer screen or office wall you can quickly imagine yourself walking on that beach or fishing from that boat, which can help you temporarily disengage from a stressful environment.

Do a Good Deed.  Take a minute or two to help a friend or associate who is confronting a crisis or particularly tough transaction.  Positive psychology studies indicate that when we’re helping or giving to someone it makes us feel fuller, more confident and uplifted.

Write it down.  Writing down your feelings is a vehicle for quickly helping transfer stress from your mind to the paper or computer.  Writing sometimes helps qualify and quantify what you are stressed about providing a more objective and calmer understanding of the situation.

There you have it. I didn’t mean to get all medical and psychological on you but recently it has just seemed to me that the consultants and note brokers are in such a hurry to get things done as quickly as possible and unfortunately, things take time. You’ve got to be able to handle the stress of the business if you want to be successful and I hope that at least one of these tips will help you alleviate some of the daily stress from your life.  TWITA!

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