When something stressful happens, your body triggers a chain reaction of roughly 1,400 biochemical changes. This physical response is damaged both your physical well-being and your job performance.
To control your body’s physical reaction to stress, use the “Freeze-Frame” technique – a 5-step process for lowering your body’s stress response within a minute or two. You can do it at your desk.
The Freeze – Frame Tactics
Using Freeze – Frame can reverse the unhealthy effect that stress has on your body, mind, mood, and overall effectiveness and productivity.
Step 1: Recognize and disengage
Acknowledge the physical signs of your stress, such as a headache or a knot in your stomach. Think of the moment the physical reaction began. Perhaps it was when you were talking to a frustrating colleague or working on a particularly challenging project.
Once you recognize how you feel and why, push a mental “Pause” button—freeze the irritation and try to actively disengage. This might sound difficult, but the ability to switch mental focus is something you practice all the time—like when your mind jumps from listening to a presentation to focusing on an email.
The mental ‘pause’ button just like your muscle, it will be better and stronger if used continuously. It just takes some practice.
Step 2: Breathe through your heart
After freezing (pause) the stressful moment, switch your focus to the area around your heart. Breathe in for five seconds. As you do so, imagine your heart filling with air. Then exhale for five seconds. Research has shown that you can produce a physiological change in your body by focusing intently on a specific part of your body.
By focusing on your heart and breathing through it, you begin letting go of negative emotions – and the physical reactions – that the stressor aroused in you.
Step 3: Invoke a positive feeling
Focus on things, people, places, or times that make you happy and relaxed. Research shows that positive feelings have a powerful physiological effect. The act of remembering happy experiences allows your brain and body to replicate and relive the positive emotions.
By practicing steps 1-3 alone over time, you can expect to feel physical benefits such as lowered blood pressure and better sleep.
Just like how Peterpan practice how to fly!
Step 4: Consider better alternatives
At this point, your body will begin to regain emotional and physical balance. You’ll find that your mind is increasingly lucid and you’ll be able to take a more objective approach in dealing with your stressor.
Move past the feeling of stress and irritation. Ask yourself, “What could I do right now to reduce my stress?” By asking yourself this question in a calmer state, you engage your problem – solving abilities, rather than reactively and emotionally forcing a solution.
Step 5: Note the perspective change
Reflect on the way you feel – both physically and emotionally. Note any positive change in perspective or feeling and acknowledge the progress you’ve made.
- Talk to someone you trust about your stress. For example, you have a bad week when everything seems to go wrong—your car breaks down, your budget request is denied—you feel tense and frustrated and begin to wonder what new catastrophe awaits. That’s when venting can help. Just talking out loud about your concerns can help to sort them out and clarify where your concerns may be valid and where you may be distorting the problem. * Be sure to vent to a neutral party who will listen and sympathize, not someone who will brush aside your issues. Tell the person you are venting, not asking them for solutions. The purpose of venting is to clear your mind and give you the mental space to return to the problem with renewed energy.
- Use humor.Laughing can melt away tension and reframe negative thoughts into something more positive. Step back from the strain of work and try to find the humor in your day. Talk to your colleagues about a sporting event, listen to a funny podcast, or read your favorite blog.
- Take a break.Our bodies and minds need time-outs from work. Breaks during your workday contribute to optimal productivity. When you feel tension rising and focus falling, take a break. Take a walk around the building, get a coffee, or visit with a colleague. Pay attention and learn what’s working and what’s not. Taking time out to restore and rejuvenate yourself results in better performance. After a meaningful break, you return to work with stronger and more focused energy.
You can also try these tactics when dealing with immediate, inhibitive stress.