Less Stress, More Enjoyment and Passion
By: Gary K. Yamamoto
people are so tense that it is impossible to put them to sleep--even
with a sermon.--Norman Vincent Peale
Stress is an essential part of your life. Each time you are faced
with any change, challenge, or threat, stress automatically results.
It is nearly impossible to live without encountering stress. The
simple act of driving to work is stressful. Interacting with your
superiors and peers is stressful. In most cases, even a quiet stroll
through a park can result in stress.
Stress becomes a problem when it continues after the stressful
event. Do you find yourself replaying your day at work in bed? Or
are you in a continuous rush at work, snapping at people for even
minor mistakes? Have you noticed that people are beginning to avoid
your company? Do you get upset behind the wheel when following slow
drivers? If you answer yes to any of these questions, stress has
become a problem in your life. It is affecting your performance,
moving it slowly down from impressive to barely adequate.
Some of the more typical work stressors include the following:
- Fear of terrorist actions
- Fear of failure and/or rejection
- Fear of losing your home
- Employment uncertainty, lack of job security
- Tight schedules and/or high quotas to meet
- System and process failure or problems
- Unforeseen delays
- Misplaced information or items
- Peer or management attacks and/or difficult interactions
Stress is Energy
Under stress, your body is flooded with energy: the energy to fight
or run away. Unfortunately, modern social behavior does not always
allow you either. Often, your only allowable action is to take no
action at all. When this happens, stress becomes a problem. With no
place to go, the energy begins to create problems within your body.
It manifests itself in your body as a number of physical ailments,
including high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach ailments,
muscle tension, back problems, and headaches.
Whenever you find yourself feeling stressed, it is time to channel
all of that potential energy into some other, more constructive
outlet. To accomplish this and thereby make your life more pleasant,
you can apply the following four basic strategies:
1. Resolve the stressor.
2. Re-channel the stress energy into some other project.
3. Release the stress energy.
4. Prevent the stress energy buildup.
Resolve the Stressor
If the situation or problem can be resolved, take care of it. For
example, if you are stressed because you are unsure of the balance
in your checkbook, this is an easy problem to fix. It only requires
you balance your checkbook more often. Unfortunately, too many
people do not take action and simply wait and worry. They should
stop wasting their energy on worrying and start channeling that
energy into resolving the problem.
Another typical stressor might be an unreliable automobile. The
owner of the car can resolve the problem by simply having the
automobile maintained. In the same manner, a toothache or cavity can
be resolved by a visit to the dentist. Whenever possible, resolve
any stressful situation.
Re-Channel Stress Energy
Some stressors cannot be resolved directly. Two examples are the
potential loss of a job and the death of a close friend. A person
cannot force the company to stop the reorganization process or
somehow cheat fate and bring a friend back to life. However, the
energy can be re-channeled into something new and possibly more
If you are worried about losing your job, you can prepare yourself.
Instead of worrying, you can upgrade your skills and knowledge. You
can spend all of that stress energy preparing for your next
In the death of a close friend, you can direct your stress energy
toward a good purpose. Spending some time and energy helping members
of your friend's family will release some of your stress energy. You
can also spend time helping a charitable organization. It makes
little difference which organization you choose. Helping other
people is a very powerful method of reducing stress. It not only
helps other people; it helps you as well.
Release Stress Energy
Because stress is the buildup of potential energy, it is released
when that energy is expended. There is a long list of exercises you
can use to release stress energy. The following are some of the most
1. Physical exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Stress
prepares you to fight or run away. It motivates you to take action,
but the type of action does not matter. Because physical exercise is
an activity similar to fighting or running away, it quickly releases
the tension energy created by stress.
2. One of the easiest methods for releasing stress is the use of
music. Music can bypass your thinking mind and penetrate deep into
your subconscious mind. There it has the power to release your
stress energy. The music you choose should be something that is
soothing to you. Select the type of music that relaxes you, and then
use it often. I recommend using it as you drive home from work and
after any stressful event. By using the same type of music
regularly, stress release becomes habitual. Almost as soon as you
hear the familiar stress-reduction music, your stress will begin to
melt. You will begin to feel better almost immediately.
3. Another very effective method of releasing stress is to slow down
your breathing. The more slowly you breathe, the more relaxed you
become. This stress-reduction technique is especially effective when
you are face-to-face with a difficult person. First become aware of
your breathing. You will notice that your rate of breathing
increases quickly. As soon as you are aware of your rapid breathing,
consciously slow it down. The more slowly you breathe, the more you
will be able to control your stress levels. No matter what happens,
keep breathing as slowly as you can. Keep reminding yourself, "The
slower I breathe, the lower my stress."
4. Humor is another wonderful way to release stress. Anytime you can
laugh out loud, you release stress. So try to discover ways of
adding humor to your life. Any humorous movie or television program
that makes you laugh is an effective stress reliever.
5. The final technique is simply to take a break. Take a moment, go
off by yourself, and sit quietly somewhere. Take a nap or enjoy a
view for a moment. All of these will help to release stress energy.
Prevent Stress Energy Buildup
If at all possible, the best strategy is to employ techniques that
prevent the buildup of stress. The following methods work best if
they are practiced before the onset of stress:
1. People are sometimes stressed because they strive for perfection.
Salvador Dali said, "Don't worry about perfection, you're not going
to reach it." If you try to be perfect, you will fail. You will then
have only stress to show for your efforts. Instead of striving for
perfection, strive for a high and sustainable quality level.
Perfection is for God to achieve. You should be satisfied with
simply doing your best.
2. People often become stressed because they impose unreasonable
time and project requirements on themselves. If you have a tendency
to do this, stop it! Re-evaluate your priorities, and place
reasonable time requirements on top-priority items.
3. Another method of preventing stress is the practice of
meditation. Actually, meditation not only prevents stress, but it
also helps to remove it. Meditation is simply the practice of
silencing your thoughts. When your thoughts become silent, even if
it is for less than a minute, stress is being released.
Managing your stress is one of the six basic steps in restoring your
passion for work and life. We can all use a little more passion in
our lives. After all, life without passion is nothing more than hard
Excerpted from Gary's book, Professional Power, Personal Excellence:
7 Steps to Accelerate Your Career.
- Copyright © 2003 by Gary Yamamoto. All rights reserved.