“Every day’s a crisis,” Jeff grumped to his car pool. “I can’t relax, no matter how much I try!”

“Listen to yourself!” Alicia laughed. “You can’t relax when you’re trying so hard to relax!”

“Sounds silly,” Jeff admitted. “Stress causes mistakes, but how do we get over the stress?”

“What do you do to relax?”

Jeff ticked off relaxation techniques: deep breathing, plenty of water, laughter, music, quiet time, and taking walks.

“Good activities,” Alicia nodded. “What do you think about while you do them?”

Silence told her what she needed to know. “Try relaxing your attitude as you relax your muscles,” she suggested as she handed over a sheet labeled:

R.E.L.A.X.

Re-direct frustration

Stress doesn’t solve problems, so your frustrations must contribute to a solution! Energy it takes to feel frustrated goes to feeling motivated! No negative labels, so lazy becomes mindful, uncooperative is independent, and angry is renamed passionate – qualities you can appreciate and use.

When your attitude points down, rewrite it in a positive direction. This thinking improves physical capacity and relationships. Don’t feed frustration – redirect it.

Expect positivity

When stress reigns, optimists are called idiots who don’t understand the seriousness of the situation. But ‘seriously’ requires more energy than ‘lightly’ without solving anything. When the team decides together to arrive with and maintain a positive attitude, they’ll support each other to share the success.

Frowning and pessimism are powerful habits, but keep expecting the best and you’ll be an instrument of improvement. To spread positivity, be positive from the inside out.

Lift a ton

When a ‘ton’ of work weighs you down – start lifting!

You can’t lift a ton all at once, but you can lift five pounds. Measured progress toward a stressful goal takes attention away from the stress and puts it where it belongs: on your ability.  Handle what you can now, then go back for another load. You can lift a ton – and instead of being injured by unreasonable expectations, you’ll be strengthened by doing what you comfortably can, a reasonable amount at a time.

Acknowledge little achievements

When faced with a ton of task, it may feel strange to celebrate an ounce of achievement. Waiting until the whole ton is done doesn’t provide enough encouragement. Begin applauding when the task is begun and keep clapping throughout.

Little tasks well done become road signs pointing the right direction. Withholding acknowledgment until you reach a major milestone limits the fuel needed to reach that milestone.

X marks the spot

Treasure maps have an ‘X’ where treasure’s buried. Your treasure is a worthy long-term goal.  Everybody knows where you’re going and why. The journey has purpose and those who don’t keep goals in sight lose focus on productive relaxation.

This is positive leadership. Not showing stress is showing your team how to get the job done without frustrating themselves.

Folding the paper, Jeff said “Okay, a relaxed attitude makes actions more effective. Let’s see if I remember:

Re-direct frustration with positive language.

Expect positivity, starting within.
Lift a lot, a little at a time.
Acknowledge small achievements.
X marks a worthwhile objective.”

“You’ve got it!” exclaimed Alicia. “Just remember that the most important time to engage your relaxation attitude is exactly when you don’t think you’ve got time for it!”

Gregory Lay edits www.AccidentalCareer.com, a website for people who want to improve their job without necessarily changing employment. He’s an experienced employee, manager, journalist, trainer, speaker, and certified speaking coach. His training specialty is organizational understanding. Contact him at Learning@AccidentalCareer.com.