Practice Safe Stress
Ah, to be stress free and self assured. We need to be as close to that as we can so that we can think and perform at our best in any situation. The negative consequences of stress on our emotional state can influence how others perceive us. When we are faced with a stressful situation, oh let’s say, our materials have not arrived in time for our presentation, most of us become somewhat less in control of the tasks we need to accomplish. The stress can cause us anxiety, fear, frustration and lack of emotional self-control, all of which diminish our level of productivity and feelings of self worth. The amount of stress we encounter each day, and how we deal with that stress can directly affect our self-esteem and general health. One sure fire method for enhancing self-esteem comes from a sense of self-accomplishment. People, who laugh and smile easily, are generally among the most likable and admirable people we know. It is this perception we have of them that often makes them among the most successful and healthiest people we know.
When we laugh or smile, our brain triggers the release of endorphins into our bodies. This chemical provides us with quite a few wonderful side effects which relieve pain, relax our muscles, suppress our appetites and bring about a tremendous feeling of euphoria. This euphoric blanket that covers us when we have an endorphin rush tends to give us a feeling of warmth and calm and control so vital for overcoming a stressful moment which can enhance our self esteem, by making us more creative and productive. While things like exercise, sunshine and certain fragrances can also release endorphins, our own sense of humor is, for many, the easiest (and certainly the most fun) way to benefit. Even a fake smile can circumvent the thought patterns in our mind and trick our brain into sending endorphins into our system. Try breaking into a fake smile (hold it for 30-40 seconds) the next time you’re stressed out about a delayed flight!
By learning to use our own sense of humor, a tool we all have, we can quickly, easily, productively and creatively conquer the stresses that only we, in the wonderful world of professional speaking, can know. When we are able to view a situation through our sense of humor rather than a sense of stress, we see things from a new, lighter vantage point; one that will enable us to maintain our sense of self confidence and self control.
How many times have we all said things like, "You know, it seems funny now, but when my Power Point shut down I could have...”? What we need to do is to be able to make it funny now, so that stress, anxiety anger and frustration play an insignificant role in our lives.
Since stress usually strikes during a serious moment (i.e., an emergency has come up and we cannot reach the client, you have four holds on one day and nothing for the rest of the month, when stuck in traffic), I must point out that that it is OK for us to bring humor into any situation as long as we remember two very important rules:
1. No one may ever be hurt, in any way, by our humor
2. The goal must be to productively resolve the issue at hand.
In line with all of this I recommend that we allow ourselves five minutes of pure fun every day, at any time we wish; a Five Minute Fun Fling that will serve to add humor to our daily lives. The Five Minute Fun Fling will help us to overcome any earlier stresses, better deal with any stresses that may come later, and, in time, will help us to more clearly see the humor in most any real life situation. Try one of these Five Minute Fun Flings every day (by all means, add your own to the list) and you will see amazing results within a few weeks.
•Add a funny caption to a picture in a magazine or newspaper
•Imagine how your favorite TV comedy character (“Kramer”, for example) might deal with one of your stressors.
•Recall some humorous incident that happened to you or someone you know and write it down.
Keep a Humor Journal, filled with all of the funny things you see, hear, read, etc. First, this gives us an opportunity to relive and share all of the fun, it is there for us when we need a quick pick-me-up and it’s very useful if we need some quick humor to add to any presentation or speech we may need to give. Simply getting into the habit of finding things for your Humor Journal will go a long way toward making each day more cheerful, too.
The Mayo Clinic urges us to experience moment of joy, every day, without feeling guilty. Ideas like the Five Minute Fun Fling and keeping a Humor Journal will help us to do just that. With regular practice we can all develop the habits that will allow us to use our inner sense of humor to improve our lives. Go Practice Safe Stress!