The American Summer has an idyllic reputation. It’s what we spend so much of the year looking forward to and it acts as our buffer before the busy fall and winter seasons.
Going through grade school, summers meant days on end of sleeping in until you were almost sick of the repetitiveness of your daily routine. We all met at the community pool to swim for hours on end and would figured out creative ways to scrap together $3 for a Dairy Queen Blizzard. I don’t think I even knew what it meant to “stress out” before I turned 13 and middle school drama set in.
As years go by, our ability to forget problems of yesterday and not worry about tomorrow leaks out of us. We become like pots boiling over with anxiety and have very few tools to cope with it. Summer rolls around and we find it hard to meet it with the same enthusiasm we did as children. School may be out, but work is always in session.
Well, summer starts today, and as my personal favorite season, I want to encourage everyone to find a way to enjoy it and relax. I know I struggle with this because I always feel like there is so much to do and never enough time to do it. My schedule can feel packed even on days when the number of support calls I have on my calendar is low.
Without the buffer of summer that we enjoyed as children, the year unfolds continuously with differing levels of stress. Some days less so than others, but with all the information constantly coming at us, even work-free Satudays can be rife with worry about the upcoming week.
And just to add another thing on your list of things to stress about, stress itself has really negative effects on your health. So, not only are you stressed out about the things you have to get done, but you are more than likely also stressed out that you are stressed out. Oy vey. Does it ever end?
My mom is constantly telling me that I should meditate more (and you are definitely right, Mom. I should). But that sort of advice is rarely helpful when you are in the middle of your work day and there’s not a private space in sight to “get still” for 15 minutes.
We should use summer as a reminder to relax, but how do we relax when the world around us stands in constant contrast to that?
I have found a few things to be immediately beneficial to me in these situations. I’m sharing them here in hopes that they can help you put some relaxation back in your summer:
Relaxation Quick Tip #1: Enable your away messages
If you are required to be signed into any chat systems for your job, be sure to turn your sign from “available” to “busy” whenever you’re really trying to get work done. Constant distractions from co-workers with non-urgent issues can really put a drag on your overall productivity. Without knowing that you’re busy, however, your co-workers might ping you with an unrelated task and stress you out even further.
Relaxation Quick Tip #2: Close anything that updates automatically
Okay, so you may have 100 things that you have to get done, but you can’t do more than 1 thing at a time. If you’ve started working on something at your desk (say a blog post) and you are rushing to have it ready to publish, close out anything other tab that updates automatically. This could be email, Twitter, Facebook, messaging platforms, or just your shared Google doc. If you’re not working on it, watching the little number at the top of your tab tick up every few seconds is just adding small amounts of stress onto your day. Close it out and open it back up once you’ve finished the task at hand.
Relaxation Quick Tip #3: Turn off your phone (or turn it on silent & flip the screen face down)
Just as updates from open tabs on your browser serve as a distraction, seeing your phone light up whenever a new email, text, or update comes through would keep even the most diligent of monks from being able to focus. When you’re stressed about getting things done, the best option to help lower your anxiety is to turn your phone on silent and put it out of sight. Otherwise, you’ll get distracted for a few seconds each time it lights up and have to refocus each time.
Relaxation Quick Tip #4: Dance
Physical movement is one of the best stress relievers we have that’s free and readily available. I really love Marie Forleo and all the work she puts out in the world, and I loved her even more when I found out that her company has regular dance breaks! Once you get back to your work after moving around (for just 5 minutes) you’ll feel a lot less stressed and a lot more capable of handling the task in front of you.
Relaxation Quick Tip #5: Breathe deep
Most of the time, our breath is really shallow. We don’t need to breathe deeply all the time to get our body the oxygen it needs, so we resort to taking smaller breaths more frequently. This is fine (we’re obviously surviving) but our breath tends to get more shallow with the more anxiety we experience. This is an automatic response, but with awareness we can fight this response just by breathing a little deeper. The deeper you breathe, the lower your heartrate will be and the more relaxed you can feel.
Those are a few tips for quickly feeling less stressed. Do you have anything that you practice to help lower stress and anxiety? Tell us about it in the comments below!