My sister works hard. She's a lab tech in a busy university hospital where she's been a valued member of her team for many years. As you might imagine, her workload and the pressure for accuracy have only increased during the pandemic. Sometimes the stress is more than she can take, and so we were talking recently about ways to de-stress in a stressful environment.
We went through a number of effective and reliable stress relieving antidotes, such as:
- Choose to be grateful. Stop and think of all you have to be grateful for in your life--a sure path back to centered presence.
- Exhale. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, noticing your surroundings and coming back to this... ki... moment.
- Take a break. Go get a cuppa something. Take a walk down the hall. Smile at a coworker.
- Laugh at yourself. I suggested thinking about a moment in the future--at home with her family, for example, or a point in the distance where the intensity of this time is only a memory. Could she imagine smiling or even laughing at the drama of this time in her life?
Be the Vaccine
My sister is closer than I to the intricacies of the Covid virus and how the vaccines work to interrupt and stop the spread. Stress is like a virus. It's easy to become infected and to infect others. But the symptoms are subtler, and we don't notice them at first. Pretty soon our entire workplace is infected with the stress virus, and we continue to spread the stress through our well-intentioned striving toward perfection and productivity.
What if laughter was a vaccine? What if my sister could laugh now, laugh sooner, and feel the relief hit her autonomic nervous system like the beautiful and immediate antidote to stress that it is.
Okay, maybe laughing out loud in the middle of a stressed hospital laboratory isn't exactly appropriate. But I know from experience that just thinking about laughing at myself -- my serious, perfectionistic self -- when I'm stressed or worried about something, usually brings me back to center and a more relaxed me.
Imagine one person in a stressed-out workplace with a kind, well-intentioned smile on her face. A centered, relaxed and caring person who works hard and stays calm. While she is serious and conscientious about her work, she doesn't take herself too seriously. And just connecting with that person makes you smile, too, and feel more relaxed, open, and centered. Your stress goes away for a moment.
You've just been vaccinated with stress antibodies.
Pretty soon the environment is calmer, kinder, and more centered, because it only takes one to begin this transformation.
Be the vaccine; inoculate everyone you meet and give them the opportunity to do the same.
Let me know how it goes!