When my work feels stressful, what can I do to keep myself calm?

• Yoga. One year the place where I worked offered lunchtime yoga. It was held several times a week and was one of the best things I did for myself. The deep breathing of yoga and the stretching calms and relaxes your body. I found myself to be slower to frustration, more alert and had an overall increase in health and flexibility. It serves to be effective and helpful for men and women the same.

• Exercise. Along the same lines as yoga, but more expansive, is general fitness time. Ideally 30 minutes a day will help to release tension and stress from your body and increase your overall energy. When you work out you tend to be mentally sharper, more alert and able to focus. This allows you to get your work done faster and better and therefore remove pressures on you that contribute to stress. The ability to manage your frustration and stay calm is helped with prioritizing regular work outs. Many people find it hard to find the time… so you can challenge yourself by parking farthest out in the parking lot, taking the stairs vs. the elevator, etc. It is hard, but start with 10 minutes a day … there are some great 10 minute work outs to get you in the routine.

• Mental perspective. Consider your perspective. Are you caught in blaming, judging, demanding, etc.? In leadership the posture of “the buck stops here” is an effective way to shift to solutions vs. passing blame. If you look at the situation, focus on the opportunity or personal challenge, it will help you to master it and get through it faster.

• Environment. Keep relaxing things in your environment. Candles, soft music, relaxing pictures, soft colors, lavender diffuser, etc.

• Count. The basic “count to 10” can be useful. Sometimes you are so frustrated you say something you regret. A hurtful word can be forgiven, but the “mark” of the word said is always there.

• Fresh air. If things are stressful, go outside. I even do this at my home office. When I feel in a rut, stressed or challenged, I take a 10 minute break and go outside and sit on our front porch rocking chairs (there is something therapeutic about rocking too). A little change of scenery can help.

What would help you? Think about what things help you relax and integrate those in your space so you are prepared the next time you are feeling a little exasperated!

Christy Geiger, Executive Business Coach & Trainer, Minneapolis, MN

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