It seems to obvious, but, it’s so easy to forget. When your shoulders are taking up permanent residence at your earlobes, remember to breathe. Not just a simple breath, but a deep one. Your body wants to take care of you and when you remember to inhale deeply, the body will let go and release your shoulders. That’s a great start to managing stress, tension and anxiety.
Speaking recently at the APC conference at Disney World, one of my topics was Keeping It Together in Tense Times. We all need those skills. It’s no secret that difficult people, situations and circumstances make us tense and we need immediate strategies to stay calm, cool and collected. If your toolkit does not come complete with advanced communication, conflict & anger, negotiation and teambuilding skills, the good news is that you can get them. And, you need to. Great skills you can count on increase your comfort and confidence as well as your competence.
So, breathing. It’s natural, yet, we can get so engrossed and tense that we forget to do it. Or, we breathe shallowly and keep ourselves close to hyperventilation. A good practice is to check your body for tension every half hour or so. If you find those shoulders climbing upwards, you’ll catch them, release them, and reduce your tension.
Along with paying attention to your breath, change position. Get up if you’ve been sitting. Stretch your arms over your head and slightly backwards. Let your head follow. When you spend so long each day looking even slightly downwards at your computer screen, it is important to reverse the use of those muscles frequently. Stretch and lengthen.
Get out of the office for your breaks. Walk around the block or the building. Go up and down a few flights of stairs. Spend some quiet time alone, or “non-office talk” time with friends or colleagues. Avoid frenemies while relaxing.
Take good care of yourself. That is always first. Remember the airline mantra, Put on your own mask first, before you assist others. Take care of yourself. No one else will do it as well as you can. It’s not selfish. It’s essential.