Chill Pills

21 ways to reduce workday stress
Saki Santorelli The Family Therapy Networker (
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2. While your car is warming up, take a minute to quietly pay attention to your breathing.

3. While you're driving, become aware of body tension--hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, shoulders raised, stomach tight. Consciously work at releasing and dissolving that tension. Does being tense help you drive better? What does it feel like to relax and drive?

4. Don't play the radio; be with yourself.

5. Stay in the right lane and go 55 miles per hour.

6. Pay attention to your breathing or to the sky and trees when you're stopped at a red light or a toll plaza.

7. After parking your car at your workplace, take a moment to orient yourself to your workday.

8. At your desk, your keyboard, or your spot on the production line, monitor your bodily sensations and tension levels and consciously attempt to relax and let go of excess tension.

9. Use your breaks to truly relax rather than simply 'pause.' For example, instead of having coffee and a cigarette, take a two- to five-minute walk, or sit at your desk and recoup.

10. At lunch, change your environment.

11. Try closing the door (if you have one) and taking some time to consciously relax.

12. Decide to stop for one to three minutes every hour during the workday (if you can). Become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations. Use this time to regroup.

13. Use the everyday cues in your environment--the telephone ringing, turning on the computer--as reminders to 'center' yourself.

14. Take some time at lunch or break to talk with close associates. Choose topics that aren't related to work.

15. Choose to eat one or two lunches per week in silence. Use them as a time to eat slowly and be with yourself.

16. At the end of the workday, recall your activities that day, acknowledging and congratulating yourself for what you've accomplished. Make a list for the next day.

17. Pay attention to the walk to your car. Breathe. Try to accept the feeling of the cold or warmth enveloping your body rather than resisting it. Listen to the sounds outside the workplace. Can you walk without feeling rushed?

18. While your car is warming up, sit quietly and consciously make the transition from work to home. Take a moment to simply be. Enjoy it. Like most of us, you're heading into your next full-time job: home!

19. While you're driving, notice if you are rushing. What does this feel like? What can you do about it? Remember, you've got more control than you imagine.

20. When you pull into the driveway or park on the street, take a minute to come back to the present. Orient yourself to being with your family or other household members.

21. Change out of work clothes when you get home; it helps you to make a smoother transition into your next 'role.' You can spare the five minutes to do this. Say hello to each family member. Center yourself at home. If possible, take five to ten minutes to be quiet and still.

From The Family Therapy Networker (March-April 1996). Subscriptions: $24/yr. (6 issues) from 8528 Bradford Rd., Silver Spring, MD 20901.

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