Stamina and Stress Reduction: Are you a Happy Camper?

On the topic of stamina, there’s a section in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where the author Stephen R. Covey tells how he was instructed by his coach to try some bench presses, and to see how many repetitions he could do with a significant weight.

Covey learned through this experience that the body gets stronger when you reach breaking point. It’s the point when your body says, “I can’t lift this weight anymore” and the brain says, “You have to.” That breaking point is where the muscle gets the maximum impact, causing it to grow and get bigger. It’s what most body builders look for. You don’t gain muscle by doing easy repetitions.

Stamina is what you need to push yourself, to make your muscles grow and to develop the resilience to keep going. But what if stress is added to the mix?

Now on the topic of stress, there is good stress and there is bad stress. Statistics are consistent. There is enough research that suggests that stress will make you ill. According to the National Institute of Health in the USA, 80%–90% of all illnesses are either directly or indirectly linked to stress.

That’s the gist of an Associated Press story, too, about a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO): Job Stress: The 20th Century Disease says that stress-related injury claims on the job “have climbed from 5 percent of all occupational disease claims in 1980 to 15 percent a decade later.” The ILO, an arm of the United Nations, estimates the cost of job stress in the USA alone to be at $200 billion annually.

Countless reports indicate that most of the stress that people feel is due to work-related issues such as time management (or a lack thereof), workload, deadlines, and dealing with difficult co-workers. The good news is that you can do something about stress in your day-to-day activities and regain control of your life. As we’ll see later, exercise and rest are ideal ways to relieve stress. But what else can you do to relieve stress? The Internet is full of ideas, but I’d like to point out the ones that have worked for me and some of my clients:

Get that morning edge. Getting up 10–-15 minutes earlier and packing a lunch or getting your clothes ready the night before can help you get organized.

Avoid procrastination. One sure way to add to your stress is to put off decisions and actions. The action itself will always reduce mounting stress. Try the simple trick of writing down all the tasks you face, however unpleasant. Rearrange them in order of urgency. Allot a definite time to each. And get them done.

Avoid e-mail jail. E-mail is still the most common and pervasive form of communication, alongside text messaging and WhatsApp-type applications. These combinations can be stressful to manage. Opening a full e-mail box can be overwhelming, not to mention time-consuming.

Think positive. Take a few minutes to find gratitude for all the good things in your life. Recognizing what you have (and at times take for granted) can instantly improve your mood and outlook.

Do things you enjoy. Try to do something for YOU or something you love every day to give yourself something to look forward to. Most stress arises from feelings of being out of control and doing things for everybody else. By taking care of yourself first, you can begin to gain control and ensure that your workday is as relaxed as possible. Go ahead… spoil yourself.

Read more in my new book, Demigods, Aliens, & Ordinary People.

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