How to Reduce Stress Easily and Immediately

STRESS!!! Many solutions.. many tips…. But sometimes, you can’t meditate in front of a client. You can’t bring your stress ball with you all the time.  Despite all your time management planning, your smartphone and your synchronized calendar, you still experience monumental stress.

People get stressed differently and should address their stresses differently as well.

I had lunch with a client a while ago who claimed that he was nearing burn out. He was talking very fast and was hardly breathing in between sentences as he was telling me all his stresses. He is a top executive of an IT company. He has gigantic things to worry about…Quota, his team, his targets, reports, salary increase of his people… all rushing to him as soon as he goes into his office.

On top of that, his father just died and he’s a bit overwhelmed with all the concerns of his work, his finances and the sadness of losing his dad. I could see his eyes getting a bit red as he was getting a bit emotional with his stories… A mix of work, his father, targets etc.

He said, “I am so stressed that I need a vacation but I never got the chance to go this year because of work!”. I said, “Mmmmm… stress….” He smiled quizzically at how I responded. It was unexpected of me to say “mmmmm…”  people expect you to say  “Agggh…” “Ugh!” or “Phew!”  when the word stress is mentioned.  You only say “mmmmm”, when you’re eating that delicious meal.  You say “mmmmm” with pleasure.  The sound of pleasure at the thought of stress.  “Mmmmmm.”

I said, “Is that so unexpected?” I said ‘Mmmm’… and all of a sudden, a smile crossed his face. Then I added “Mmmm… vacation.”  He smiled again.

I asked him what stresses him the most. Being a very processed guy who is a perfectionist, he talked about everything… from his shirt getting a bit wrinkled or his thoughts not being able to be calm before he goes to sleep. From self-flagellating if he does not hear a compliment for doing a good job to his daily duties as a boss. He was flooding his brain with all his thoughts all at the same time.

After hearing him out, I told him, “Now I understand what your problem is”… “You’re eating the whole elephant all at once”. Have you heard of that metaphor,  “How do you eat an elephant?”.. “Answer: piece by piece”.

When I said that, he had a blank stare in his eyes and he started to nod. It’s as if he was seeing the whole picture with what he was doing.

I asked him what relaxes him. He talked about his house.. his audio room…. His son’s fishing catch which is right on his wall and how relaxed he gets when he sees it… how much he loves vinyl albums and listening to his jukebox that he bought… his 45’s… his wife and going to the spa with her. He was talking about taking coffee and cigarette breaks in the office and his diverse taste in music from Nirvana to led Zeppelin and classical to Soul…. At this point, he was laughing and smiling and beaming like a kid proud of his toys!

He gets to work at 7:30 am and his work is very fruitful at that time and he gets to work best then. I then said, “Ok… this is what you need to do. At 10 am and 3 pm, you have to do something for yourself that is totally and absolutely not related to work.”  He says, I still talk shop even when I have coffee with my team.

The place where he gets absolute comfort is his music room… I asked him if he could put great music in his office. Then put pictures of the fish his son caught on his table. At 10 am and 3 pm, he has to stand up and stretch and “un-structure” himself for a bit.  Watch a video for 10 minutes, look at pictures of his family, play a game with his team talking about the highest points of their day.”  Lastly, I told him to look in the mirror and say to himself, “You’re doing a great job!  I am proud of you!”

He is an absolute auditory. He needs to hear praise and hear things that can trigger good feelings.  He hears simultaneous words and conversations that go on in his head when he is stressed… so all he needed was that hour to air it out… say it out loud and then be reminded of all the things that relaxed him and immediately, he was transported to a state of relaxation.

He was staring at me as if he just had a eureka moment and couldn’t wait to do the things he just heard… “MMMmmmmm”., I said. He smiled again and he said, “Riiiight…” I think I need to do this more often.

8 Tips:

  1. Stop, Breathe, Notice (Your breathing, heart beat, tensed muscles)
  2. Think about what this stress is teaching you.
  3. Change your Word STRESS to STRETCH!
  4. Prepare a STRETCH Kit (Playlist on your phone, lavender scent, a favorite toy, a buddy to talk to)
  5. Look at baby pink, have plants in your office
  6. Move, walk around, dance if you can
  7. Say Mmmmmmmmm…
  8. Say “5678 Amazing!” jump up and shake your booty and go back to work.

We can’t really change the world and all its problems. But we can change how we accept the world and all its problems.

About the Author:  Carelle Mangaliag-Herrera is an empowerment and motivational speaker, management consultant, coach, author and business communications expert using NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) and Applied Neurosciences.  She is an NLP Trainer and Master Practitioner, Gallup Strengths Coach and is the President and CEO of Trainstation Inc. with offices in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and USA, a partner of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative under Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania.   She has helped top companies globally as well as marginalized communities and government institutions. She has been a performer on stage, TV, and film for nearly 30 years and has been an improv actor , a comedian and singer.  She is a wife and a mother of 2.

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