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A Day in the Life...

Seven simple stress solutions

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A Day in the Life...

She jumps out of bed; rushes to the bath; notices her belly, avoids the scales; dashes to the kitchen, no time for breakfast, then out the door; grabs a coffee on her way to work; up the elevator; straight to her desk, face like flint, no time for hello, too much to do.

She jumps out of bed; rushes to the bath; notices her belly, avoids the scales; dashes to the kitchen, no time for breakfast, then out the door; grabs a coffee on her way to work; up the elevator; straight to her desk, face like flint, no time for hello, too much to do.

Works through lunch to finish a project for her boss; 40 more emails; 25 calls; hunger pangs at 2:30; rushes to the food court for a muffin and more coffee; then straight back to her desk; stares at her computer; no feedback from anyone; no time to chat; leaves at 6; dashes to pick up a pizza, then her son; lots of guilt, neck stiff, eyes burning, simmering anger.

Makes dinner, nerves on edge; snaps at her love; hits the sack–and weeps as she realizes she gets to do it all over again tomorrow.

This is how we kill ourselves without really trying. Here’s how to change things:

1. Face the fact that no amount of success in your professional life can make up for failure in your health. Make it your active purpose to put the health of your body and your mind first. Do at least one thing every day specifically to protect your most important asset–your health.

2. Write it on your heart and your computer screen that happiness is not only relevant but crucial. You are on the planet to be happy–to celebrate life. Happy people not only live longer but they accomplish more. Happiness is the antidote to stress. Learn to summon the emotion of happiness right there at your desk and spread it around as much as possible. Get up and walk around–look for happiness.

3. Change your attitude toward food, especially breakfast and lunch. Stress is intimately connected to the way you eat. When you wake up in the morning, your body temperature rises and your metabolic rate is enhanced, ready to nourish your cells. If you ignore this cue and rush to work without breakfast, insulin will instruct the body to store enzyme-dense visceral fat that can hasten your demise.

4. Beware of substituting coffee for breakfast. Coffee stimulates a rise in cortisol and insulin, giving the stress reaction an added boost. Want to avoid job stress and keep your cool under fire? Treat yourself to a low-carb treat in the morning. This is a wonderful way to fight stress as you head off to work.

5. Recognize when your metabolism is at peak efficiency, ready to pulverize food and give you a rich supply of nutrients. Don’t bypass this opportunity (which usually happens midday). Otherwise insulin and cortisol will get yet another opportunity to trigger inflammatory responses that can lead to cancer, heart disease, dementia, and arthritis, all of which can be precipitated by job stress.

6. Know that stress does more than tense your muscles or spoil your mood. According to cardiologist Robert Elliot, stress can also break the myocardial fibrils of your heart. Heart attacks claim the lives of 34,000 Japanese people every year due to job stress. The pity is that while you rush to work and grumble at your computer, not only is your mind under attack but your immune and cardiovascular systems are rendering you a more suitable candidate for disease.

7. Tell yourself that you are vulnerable and learn a reliable technique to reduce the impact of stress on your body as it accumulates throughout the day. Practice this technique every time you are confronted by one of the mundane irritations at work. Remember–elephants don’t bite, but little mosquitoes do.

Stress-Busting Technique

This simple exercise can reduce stress and ward off inflammation and a host of diseases that are the constant accompaniments of a stressful life.

  • Tense your body while taking a huge breath through your nose.
  • Hold the tension and the deep breath for a while.
  • Relax, breathe out slowly, and feel tension draining from your body.
  • Smile and imagine your arms and legs becoming heavy and warm.
  • Remind yourself that happiness is crucial, and bring a sense of joy to whatever you are doing.
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