Stress Busting in the New Millennium

I confess, I love the Holidays but I hate shopping-just about any kind of shopping that demands my physical presence in the midst of a zillion other people. Which is somewhat odd, since I speak to 30,000 plus women and men a year and I enjoy that. What gives? 

To me, a shopping mall excursion is equivalent to be stuck in traffic for three hours. Both rank high on my stress meter. Some people push and shove (tailgaters and cars weaving in and out that can easily cause an accident); some people are rude (horns, verbal comments and interesting hand gestures); and some are just plain oblivious to all around them (c’mon, move that vehicle dude). To top it off, finding a salesperson to ring up your purchases becomes a major challenge (So, where’s the cop to move this mess?).

What’s it all mean?-simply that stress is at work. You begin to build up the steam-“Damn, I’m going to be late . . .again,” “Who gave these idiots a license to drive?” and “Where’s a cop when you need one?” are all common internal declarations. Stress is simply an internal response to an external happening-many that you can’t control.

Resisting Resistance

When your buttons are pushed, three emotions usually surface-concern or worry, anger and resentment. Those emotions are triggered by the event that created the stress. Beneath your emotions, you may be–

– Concerned that the idiot driving the car will endanger you or others; that it’s drivers like him who cause the traffic messes in the first place and that because of his stupidity, your life (and others with you) may be endangered. Someone’s going to get hurt or hear and see language and gestures that are just not appropriate to nice folks’ ears and eyes.

– Angry and ticked because you are following the car rules of the road and other cars are driving in the outer non-lanes to get to the front of the congestion.

– Resentful that others don’t embrace your sense of responsibi-lity and accountability as you do when on the road, including the cops for not being timely in unsnarling the mess.

Pushing the Buttons that De-Stress You

Stress doesn’t disappear overnight. Here’s what you can do to put your stress button in pause, than reverse:

– Realize Most Resistance is Futile. No matter what, there are dozens of things you encounter every day that just are. You can’t stop someone else from making hand gesture demonstra-tions across the lane, tailgating or weaving in and out of traffic. Let go.

– Prioritize and Simplify. Learn to say no-if traffic is a stress creator, do all you can to avoid any rush hour driving. And ask, “Do I really need to go, or can I handle it with a phone call?” Focus on what issues and concerns are really important and which are not.

– Re-evaluate your Lifestyle. Which parts of it enhance what-ever you do and which distract from what you do or who you want to be?

– Refocus and Adjust Personal and Career Expectations. Are you doing what I would call “the right fit” with both personal and professional endeavors? Or, are you doing what you are doing, or staying in a relationship, because it’s just easy and you can coast?

– Shift. Change is the continuing mantra of the millennium. Are you?

– Time-off. Everyone needs a sabbatical now and again. When was the last time you took time off to think, probe and explore who you are, where you want to do and what methods you can take to get there? Vacations don’t always have to be for entertainment purposes.

– Get More Training. Stagnating guarantees mediocrity, and in most cases, the eventual pink slip. What are you doing to stretch and grow in what ever you currently do? Part of your training regime must include the wide world of e-commerce and the Internet.

– Seek Professional Input. The most successful and confident people have sought professional help from a variety of counselors and therapists throughout their careers. If you’ve got a problem, there’s someone out there that can help refocus and assisting you in the path to resolution. Ask for help.

– Adios. Today’s economy is strong. If you are in a position that is the pits, is toxic or just doesn’t zig on your career path, move on. It’s a rare person I’ve met that has regretted leaving churning waters. Most regret not getting out sooner.

After writing this column, do I feel less stressed out? You bet. . . I’ve learned to pop in a tape when ugly traffic hits-I either go for laughs or learning. I pay no attention to the hand gestures and vocal challenges and realize the cops are probably stuck in the same mess I’m in. Shopping? Catalogs and the Internet have become good friends.