Each quarter, my employer features a health enhancement challenge that I routinely register for with the best intentions. Our theme this time around, which is beyond ironic, happens to be stress management. I laugh every time I log into the intranet log page where I record my goals for this challenge. My entire department (the ever maligned Information Technology one) is under tremendous pressure right now as we proceed through a merger with another firm. Since so much of today’s business is transacted using technology, you can imagine the challenges we must overcome to provide a seamless transition for our internal customers. Hence, my chuckles each time I review the stress-relieving activities I’m supposed to complete each day (a minimum of ten from among these):
- 7-8 hours of sleep (I’m lucky if I get six, and I usually wake up at least 2-3 times thinking about work projects)
- Hobby (My favorite hobby is reading, and I do that while driving by listening to audiobooks; my other hobby, amateur astronomy, is frustrated this season with inconvenient cloud cover)
- Eliminate caffeine (Only if I don’t get a headache while at work … then I reach for a mocha or some other form of chocolate).
- Exercise (I try to walk the dog for 30 minutes in the evening, if it’s not raining or so muggy that you start sweating the minute you step out the door. This combos up with more reading of audiobooks because my dog’s not a great conversationalist, except with other dogs)
- Deep breathing (If you count hyperventilating over some missed deadline or hurdle on a project)
- Meditate/Quiet Reflection (If you consider being hypnotized by the road during the commute home or the oblivion of dreamless sleep)
- Unplug from technology (Seriously, you expect me to do that? Only when my battery dies, which won’t happen since I bought a backup battery with my new smartphone back in January)
- Quality time with a loved one (Renovating our main bathroom with my hubby)
- Gratitude Journal (I just learned about this today which prompted this blog post)
I watched a short video on negative thoughts. Apparently, on average, I have 60,000 thoughts each day when I’m conscious. Of those, about 70% will turn up negative. To counteract that trend, I’m going to try writing a gratitude journal for twenty minutes per day. I’ve actually done something similar here at this log, back in November 2011, when I wrote a blog post every day on things I was thankful for. For the purposes of this endeavor, though, I’m going to pretend that I’m starting from scratch.
Starting tomorrow, I will post my first gratitude journal entry here. Perhaps I will be able to flip from negative to positive before the sun flips its magnetic field. If it helps let off some stress steam that has built up in me over the last few months, then I’m ready to give it a try.