So Father’s Day was last month. Whether you are a father or not, this is often a time for men to reflect on how we are doing. Most successful men at least have some idea in their head (if not actually written down) of where we expected to be at this point in our life. Professional goals, personal goals, financial goals…..they all blend together to form our image and expectation of where we want to be. The disparity, between where we wanted/expected to be at this point and where we actually are, is a huge source of stress and anxiety for many.
There are some out there who would counsel us to simply “want less” and that way we would be less stressed and be happier. I believe this is some of the worst advice you can give anyone. To me this is the equivalent of saying it’s ok to graduate kids who can’t read, just dumb down the standards and make everyone feel good about being mediocre. Set your goals high and then drive hard to reach them. The key is, as Brian Tracy has said, “Be happy but not satisfied”. In other words, be happy with how far you’ve come but don’t be satisfied—push for more.
Stress doesn’t have to be the #1 killer of men in this country, and lowering our goals or standards is not the key to reducing it. A better way is simply having the tools for positive stress reduction. We should all think of ourselves as professional athletes because the better we train ourselves physically, the better our mental focus, energy and other factors that impact successful work and living. So when it comes to stress, we should be providing this part of care for ourselves as men.
Short term stress can be a good thing to drive us forward, but long term or negative stress has major impact on our health, our mental functions, our emotions and more. So, what are some simple ways we can reduce our stress to we can take care of ourselves better?
Here are just a few quick and easy ways to deal with stress:
1. Increase your hydration—sounds weird but it works! When our bodies are dehydrated it causes physical and mental stress that can compound other issues.
2. Increase your sleep—just adding another 30 minutes per night can sometimes make all the difference in the world.
3. Workout consistently—even 15-20 minutes a day is infinitely better than zero.
4. Yoga classes—yes men take these too! It’s great for stress reduction, body composition and flexibility. Most guys also report an improvement to their golf game from it too!
5. Martial arts lessons—there aren’t many things more stress relieving the beating the crap out of a heavy bag, plus the lessons learned in martial arts allow us to deal with stress in much more effective ways.
6. POT—yes I’m suggesting pot—and before someone sends me hate mail, POT means “Phone Off Time”. You are not Pavlov’s dog so stop acting like one. We don’t need an electronic device ruling our life, so just shut it off when you can….unplugging is good.
7. Scheduled downtime—if you don’t intentionally schedule it, it won’t get done. Schedule a date or a quick getaway with your wife or someone significant in your life, schedule time for workouts, be selfish in a way—make it all about you and the fact that you do need some downtime from work. When we do this, more things fall in line.
There are many other things we can do to reduce our stress and improve our health. The key is to be aware of the stress in our lives and then DO something about it. Don’t lower your standards–just find better ways to accomplish them!
For more information on health, safety and fitness, contact Jeff Dousharm at Jeff@paradigmimpactgroup.com.