Wednesday, May 5, 2010

7 Ways To Manage Your Stress (By Amy Weschler, from The Mind-Beauty Connection)

You’re working long, long hours to get your career in high gear, then blowing off steam late at night, trying to meet people at smoky after-hours clubs or late-night bars. What with proving yourself on the job, struggling to get a romantic relationship going, and losing sleep over both, you’re ripe for burnout. And maybe breakouts, too—a nonstop lifestyle can suddenly produce a bumper crop of pimples. Some suggestions follow.

Wean yourself from work
How do you do this? By setting up boundaries and sticking to them, just as you keep to brushing your teeth and hair every day. Choose a time each day after which you will not do any more work. Make sure you give yourself at least one day over the weekend to goof off (no work!), whether it’s by yourself or with family.

Blow out the flame
If you’re truly burning the candle at both ends, you need to stop and evaluate why. Are you working 16-hour days? Or are you staying out late with friends to cut loose and enjoy the fruits of your labor?

If it’s wall-to-wall work, you’ve got to take charge. It might mean a long talk with your boss or, if things are really out of hand, even switching jobs. Or it might mean you need to just stop being such a workaholic and do less.

On the flip side is our yearning to take a break by doing something exhausting. In the case of a lot of end-to-end candle burners, we party hard, drink, smoke, and stay out way past our bedtime. My advice here isn’t not to have fun. On the contrary! But when you need a break, take a break. Six hours at "Club All Night Long" probably isn’t it, no matter how cute the suits at the bar are.

Get a dose of morning light
Our body clocks don’t exactly match the day’s 24-hour-day clock, which makes us want to sleep 12 minutes longer every day and stay up later every night. You probably don’t sleep later but do stay up later … no wonder you’re wiped. What helps? Getting out of bed at the same time every morning and sitting in a sunny spot for breakfast, or exercising outdoors, or just turning on lots of lights. A dose of brightness in the morning helps synch up your internal clock with the 24-hour day. Which also helps you get on a regular, saner schedule.

Turn off the cell phone and PDA
More and more we’re growing into a culture addicted to our BlackBerries (there’s a reason they were instantly nicknamed CrackBerries). The flickering, hypnotic light from their tiny screens will arouse your brain and cut into your sleep time. Put away your electronics at least an hour before you hit the hay, if not earlier. Otherwise, you’ll never get a truly restful night’s sleep. (True confessions: I know about this—I’ve been there!)

Tell yourself how well you’re doing
Even if it feels silly, give yourself a morning pep talk while you’re in front of the mirror. Say a few positive affirmations, such as “I’m going to have a fabulous day; I’m beautiful and healthy, and it’s up to me to make great things happen; I’m grateful for this life and I’m doing terrific.” Note how well you’re coping with whatever pressure you’re under. Even if you don’t quite believe yourself, it’s still effective. Research has shown that over time, a daily rah-rah builds resilience, which can fortify you against stress.

Prep yourself
Take stock of your coming day. Note the pitfalls: the two-hour parent-teacher night that tends to last three; the regular Thursday staff meeting; the 85 unanswered e-mails that could consume the entire morning. Every day has its molehills, but if you’re prepared and limit the time you give them, they won’t turn into mountains.

Book a massage
Massage strokes relax your muscles and your psyche because being touched releases oxytocin; remember, that’s the bonding hormone that makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. It’s the internal reason massages are so calming and soothing. The external one, of course, is how they unknot those tense, clenched muscles in your neck.

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