How to De-stress for Success
Shortly after moving to New York City, Ko Im enrolled in yoga teacher training to receive her certification, and her practice helped her discover that there is a better state of being by staying connected with your mind and body. This mantra has guided her throughout her journey in New York and and has helped her avoid being so stressed out in the city. Planning to Wealth sat down with her to talk about ways to minimize stress in the workplace, and how mindfulness and meditation can help you achieve your goals.
Read on to discover Ko's top ways you can de-stress for success and find yourself calmer and grounded in the day-to-day of hectic life.
1. Maintain wellness and balance throughout your workday. People spend a considerable portion of their daily life at the workplace, so maintaining a positive mindset and minimizing stress in a professional environment is crucial to success. You can maintain a low stress level throughout your 9-5 by practicing the following throughout your day:
Breathe. You might be holding your breath or allowing your heartbeat to stress you out.
Recognize when things get hairy. Free yourself of judgement and try to look at the situation in an objective way.
Do little things to keep the stress at bay. Small actions can make a big difference such as taking an afternoon break, a mid-day stretch, or engaging in activities after work that keep you grounded. For instance, so many people eat lunch at their desk because they think it’s more efficient. Taking time for yourself to eat lunch can play a huge role in reducing stress. Find time to be a human, and then go back to being a robot, and you’ll be a better robot because you’re functioning as a human.
If your day is particularly stressful, try a walking meditation. During your walk, observe your surroundings to stay mindful and in the moment, which will bring a sense of peace and help you remember you are not your to-do list.
Surround yourself with positivity. Whether it be music, friends, or practicing gratitude, surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy will help you keep a positive mindset.
Follow the idea of one thing at a time. Whether tackling a big project or connecting with a colleague or stranger, don’t overwhelm yourself by focusing too much on the outcome or end goal, or create an endless to-do list that makes you feel like a hamster on a wheel. You can avoid an overwhelming to-do list by looking beyond your immediate to-do list and focusing on things that make you thrive in the long-run. Try to truly recognize the benefits of doing these long-term action items instead of measuring everything.
2. Always de-stress before a big presentation or speaking to a group. One of the biggest stresses for working professionals is presenting. When preparing for a big meeting or presentation, get out of the limiting perfectionist mindset and instead, go into practice mode. The more you know and feel your materials, the more comfortable and confident you'll be. You could also take a moment for yourself in the bathroom and just breathe or take on a power pose. When in doubt, smile, or if you're up to it, repeat a motivational mantra that resonates with you. Afterwards, you could cut yourself some slack by giving yourself some credit. Receive constructive feedback with openness for growth.
3. Find a daily routine that leads to a more balanced life. Some of the most successful people attribute their success to a daily routine that keeps them productive and balanced. Routine helps structure a strong foundation – especially in the morning. Every day is a new day to begin. I personally like to slowly stretch, make some coffee and breakfast and walk to work. It's nice to have a clear mind before doing other work. Others may brush their teeth before meditating or go to the gym or even read on the subway.
If you aren’t a morning person, that’s ok. I work with a lot of people who are night people. I want to emphasize it’s personal. Embrace a routine that resonates with you, and don’t be afraid to experiment. A night routine can be just as precious as a morning routine. If 1 am is when you get in that complete meditative state, do what works best for you.
4. Avoid foods that contribute to stress and maintain a healthy relationship with food. A person’s diet can have a powerful impact on both minimizing and causing stress in the body. When you are tired, you make poorer decisions. Many of us stress-eat or don't eat because of stress. It is important to eat food that fuels you and also to enjoy a meal versus scarfing through it. We also can become more aware of food that doesn't sit well with us so that inflammation doesn't lead to stress in the body that may show up later in a more quantifiable way.
5. Meditate. When life gets stressful, meditation allows you to return again and begin again. Meditation changes your state for the long term and can change your way of being. Remember that life is fluid and we are fluid and constantly changing. The only thing we can control is ourselves.
6. Get more restful sleep. Sleep is a time for your body to restore itself, and more restful sleep can minimize stress throughout your daily life. I know a lot of people who are too wound up and have trouble falling asleep. We can always find room in improving our self-management and find easier ways to relieve that stress to fall asleep easier. Is it singing in the shower? Or calling a good friend? Just knowing we are not alone and that we have the choice to control our mindset can help us see the bigger picture.
When trying to fall asleep, remember to create boundaries for yourself. Don’t look at your phone just before bed and find ways for your mind to de-stress. One great way to do this journaling before bed so you can release your stressful thoughts on the page or take time to assess your state.
Most importantly, don’t stress about sleep. That adds another level of stress. It’s important to find ways to relax. One easy way to do this is to acknowledge and concentrate on different parts of your body to help bring your body into relaxation mode. Start with feeling your toes, then feeling your legs, the weight of your body on the bed, and so on. This will help take your mind off trying to fall asleep or tomorrow’s busy day and almost trick yourself into a restful slumber.
7. Remember, stress isn’t always a bad thing. Not all stress needs to be labeled as bad. There is an evolutionary reason we need to stress. It’s important to consider that you can turn stress into something positive. For instance, at work, instead of becoming upset and stressed by an offensive or off-putting email, we can take a step back and wonder what is going on in the person’s life who sent the email. You don’t have to be a pushover. You can speak up when something doesn’t feel right, but without being reactionary or in fight or flight mode. Let your intuition and insight work you. Love and kindness starts with self-compassion. You can love yourself as much as you love a stranger. Ultimately, self-compassion allows us to take a stressful situation and respond to others in a compassionate and positive way.
8. Practice mindfulness and let go of worry. Everyone can do their own form of de-stressing and mindfulness, but balance is a moving target and mindfulness is a choice. Take care of your mind, body and soul and they will all function to help you feel more successfully at ease in the long run. The simple acknowledgment and appreciation of who you are can be significant reminder tool.
It’s also important to remember we stand in our own way and we over-stress ourselves out and the worry doesn’t add anything productive. We worry about the future which we can’t control. There is no practical use to worry. Our minds can become so busy and we need to find ways to slow it down so we can have a clear thought process and can go after what we want.