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10 Strategies to Defeat Stress and Stay Positive

October 25, 2015 | by Harry Edelson

Tools for coping with the daily stresses of life.

Stress is a good thing. Yes, you read that correctly. But like anything else it can become dangerous when it’s in excess and starts taking a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. Stress is a fact of life and something we all have to manage on a daily basis. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers reported feeling stress on the job and nearly half said they needed help learning how to manage that stress.

At 80 years young, I am proud to say that I have been able to sustain a positive attitude even under the intense pressure of working in the financial industry for more than 40 years. Over the years, I have developed techniques to help cope with the daily stresses of life and remain positive. My family, friends and colleagues have all taken notice of my positivity so much so that I have earned the nickname “Happy Harry.”

Use these strategies to conquer stress and stay positive:

1. Use positive thinking and positive self-talk

It’s surprisingly easy to eliminate negative thinking just by focusing on positive images, events or ideas. Use these positive thoughts and images to build your self-confidence. When you’re feeling confident in your abilities, the workplace is not as stressful. If you find yourself doubting your abilities and start to feel stressed out and anxious at work, take a break to regroup. Go to the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat a positive mantra that inspires confidence.

2. Get exercise and lead an active life

One of the best ways to deal with stress is to channel it in a positive direction, such as exercise. Even taking a quick break at work to get in a little exercise and get your body moving can help relieve stress throughout the day. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which signals happiness to the body. Endorphins help the body cope with feelings of stress and pain. Remaining active and exercising daily will help lower your stress levels not only at work, but also across all aspects of your life.

3. Develop your speed-reading skills

I found one of the greatest advantages in my career to be my ability to speed-read. Using this technique, I was able to read more legal briefs and work documents than others could do. This skill made me more efficient, allowing me to accomplish more. Not only is this a beneficial skill to have in the workplace, it’s also helpful in my personal life. Many people feel so bogged down with the amount of work or school reading that has to be done, that they rarely have time to sit and read for their own enjoyment. Mastering the technique of speed-reading will increase your efficiency on the job while also freeing up time for you to read just as efficiently for pleasure.

4. Set goals to achieve progress, not perfection

If the thought of having too many things to do is stressing you out, separate the tasks. Set goals for each day and start doing one task at a time. Try writing a to-do list for your day or mentally note the tasks you’ve managed to complete throughout the day. It always feels good to accomplish something. By organizing your daily tasks, you are able to clearly see just how much you have actually done in one day. It always feels good to accomplish something, even if it’s a small task. All activities big and small contribute to make a life fulfilling.

5. Focus on solutions, not problems

Try not to focus too much on the negative. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to accomplish at work and all of the problems that arise on a daily basis, refocus yourself and brainstorm possible solutions to your problems. This solution may be a long-term goal, but having something to work toward and focus your energy on will keep you moving in a positive direction.

6. Don’t second-guess your decisions

Constantly second-guessing your choices can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. If your choice does not yield the result you had hoped for, don’t complain. For all you know, the “road not taken” might have led to a worse outcome. Rather than second-guessing your choices, take the time to reassess the situation and find an alternate solution. Complaining about something that is out of your control won’t get you to a real solution any faster.

7. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your family, friends and colleagues for help. We are not islands. Use the people in your life to help lift your spirits when you cannot do it alone. Do not be embarrassed to ask for help; we all need assistance at some point or another. The people in your life who truly care about you want you to succeed and live a happy life. Surround yourself with positive people and their positive energy will create a ripple effect extending to you.

8. Stay involved in your community

We are human beings and need social interaction. Being involved in your community can be a positive outlet to allow yourself to mentally recharge and de-stress from work. Family provides a valuable sense of community and belonging. Finding an activity for your family to do together will strengthen that bond and create positive memories for everyone to draw upon during stressful times. Your sense of community does not have to come from family; it’s helpful to join any kind of group. There are many different communities to get involved in, such as book clubs, sports teams, community centers and religious groups. Stay connected and active in your community whoever they may be.

9. Remind yourself to be thankful for what you have

Do not complain about your job, boss or coworkers. Instead of complaining, do something to feel better about yourself. Putting down others will not relieve your stress or make you any happier. It never pays off to harbor anger. Remind yourself of all the good things in your life and to always be thankful for that. The secret to being happy is simply to choose that state of mind. The power is within you to take that first step and start thinking positively.

10. Find a balance

Life cannot be all work, and unfortunately it cannot be all play either. The key to being happy and successful is finding a balance between the two. We need both to survive and thrive. Working is necessary for obvious reasons including bills, rent/mortgages and daily expenses. Constantly working will wear the body down, and taking care of yourself is just as important as making money. Remember to set aside time to enjoy activities and spend time with people you cherish.

Happiness is contagious. If you want to be happy, it’s within your power to do so. When you are a truly happy person, you will exude a positive energy and others will take notice. Try to share that feeling with those around you, especially in a stressful work environment. Stress is not good for anyone, and causes people to be angrier, make poor decisions, experience a lack of sleep or even more serious health problems. Use the strategies above to help cope with stress at work, find an appropriate work-life balance and become a happier and more optimistic person. Your stress level and your colleagues will thank you!

Excerpted from Harry Edelson’s book: Positivity, how to be Happier, Healthier, Smarter and More Prosperous


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