How to deal with work stress in 5 minutes or less
“It’s as if our minds and bodies were not designed for the pressures of 21st-century life,” says Lynne Everatt, co-author (with Addie Greco-Sanchez) of The 5-Minute Recharge: 31 Proven Strategies to Refresh, Reset, and Become the Boss of Your Day. “Our sedentary, technology-driven, and sleep-deprived lives have strayed so far from what our minds and bodies crave, we need to take an active role in caring for our mental and physical well-being.”
It doesn’t help that questionable health advice is so easily available on the Internet, sometimes offered by business titans or celebrities. “[Chinese billionaire CEO of Alibaba] Jack Ma was all over the web advocating what he calls a ‘9-9-6’ schedule as the key to success, meaning working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.”
By contrast, Everatt, who describes herself as a “recovering MBA,” and her mental-health-expert co-author Greco-Sanchez, based The 5-Minute Recharge on reams of global research, discovering techniques for managing stress that have been proven effective for large numbers of non-billionaires—and that are “gentle, not extreme,” Everatt says.”
Each of the 31 stress-management techniques in the book is presented as an exercise that takes only a few minutes but “can make all the difference in your day,” she adds. If you struggle with that, you might try what’s called guided meditation, where someone else speaks to you, putting words in your mind that you can focus on. Deep breathing, inhaling and exhaling all the way down in your diaphragm—instead of the shallow, top-of-the-chest breaths we usually take—stimulates the vagus nerve in our midsection, which in turn fires up the sympathetic nervous system. The idea is, when you’re stressing over a difficult problem, think of someone you’d want to advise you on it—and then try to imagine what that person would say. You want to go into an interview with a positive and expectant frame of mind, and one way to create that is to jot down a list of everything in your life you’re grateful for—including the opportunity to interview for this job! You can also use music. Relationships are a huge buffer against the effects of stress in our lives, and asking a lot of questions is one of the best ways to build stronger relationships.
In a job interview, the most important question you can ask is, “What kind of person succeeds here?” Then listen carefully and ask yourself, “Is that me? Would I fit in and thrive here?” If your honest answer is “no,” you’d be smart to keep looking.