You Don’t Have to be Stressed…


“I tried to open this website, Ed. It was all about keeping calm. It took so long to open that I got stressed.”

…And that just about sums up today’s business world. Not only do we have meetings to go to, deadlines to meet and targets to achieve, we also have to contend with an ever-increasing tide of interruptions.

Once upon a time it was all so simple. “Just hold the calls, Gloria and tell everyone I’m not to be disturbed. I need to finish this report.”

“Yes, Mr. Brown.”

And Mr. Brown could either finish his report, or close his eyes and work off his excellent lunch…

Not now. E-mails; mobile phone; tweets; LinkedIn updates; Google+; Facebook… These days, all holding the calls does is guarantee that you’ve more time for other distractions.

So a Canadian company has turned to Kickstarter for funding to develop the ‘one button to silence them all.’ But even if you turn the interruptions off on a temporary basis, they’re always lying in ambush. The question for me is more fundamental: how do we relax at the end of the day or week? How do we get rid of the stress that work causes us? Especially when there may be an entirely new set of tensions waiting for us at home.

Here are five ways that the TAB York team use: I’m sure there’ll be plenty more added to the list!

Go outside. It seems to me that stress is produced indoors and reduced outdoors. Jackie is a devoted – but fair-weather – cyclist and I’m always ready to climb on my mountain bike. Julia swims – outdoors in all weathers, obviously. Even sitting in the garden with a glass of red wine works for me. I might even lie back and do some creative thinking…

Teach – or coach. I coach rugby on a Tuesday and a Sunday and I have to say it’s one of my favourite times of the week. I get to shout a lot – in a constructive way, naturally – and it’s a great stress-buster. Quite a few Board members tell me how much they love teaching or coaching: somehow you always feel better when you’ve helped someone else to improve.

Learn. It might be something as simple as reading a novel (and I’ve just started The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, so watch out for Board meetings sprinkled with references to the Deep South); it might be finally learning a new language. Whatever it is, I find that learning something new makes me feel better about myself – and less stressed.

Get sporty. And I include in this something as simple as walking. The health and stress-reducing benefits of sending a few endorphins flowing round your body are well documented. Not quite so well documented are the benefits of standing on the touchline and cheering. As some of you know, Jackie’s son is a more-than-competent rugby player and I take huge pleasure from watching Dan and Rory. The ref blows his whistle, the game kicks-off and stress is banished…

Finally, have friends. This sounds obvious, but countless studies have shown that we’re happier and healthier with a well-developed social network. There are few things I like better than having friends round to dinner, but even a simple trip to the pub works for me. Again, it’s the change of scenery, and different company.

There is one more, but I hesitate to write it down. A good bottle of beer; a section of the Sunday Times, peace and quiet, solitude… Nope, I’m a husband and a father. Away with such selfish fantasies!

Have a great weekend and I’ll be back next week – unless my wife reads that last paragraph…

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7 comments

  1. tommortonharrogate · October 18, 2013

    And of course #6 — meeting one of your fellow TAB franchisees……

    ;0) Tom

  2. Simon Hudson · October 18, 2013

    At the risk of replying becoming a habit (and in no particular order lest my wife reads 1 and 2)…

    Play an instrument.
    Either alone or in a band. If thrashing some rock out doesn’t calm you then some light jazz or intricate classically inspired playing will bring things back into perspective.

    Hug someone you love.
    The scientist in me knows it releases endorphins and has all sorts of interesting psychological effects, but it mostly just feels good.

    Smile at people.
    Yes, I know it makes them crazy wondering what you are smiling at, but it is another great endorphin generator – not only do we feel smile when we feel happy but we also feel happy when we smile.

    Switch off.
    My much missed father in law was a font of sound wisdom, including “Sometimes I want to sit and think, sometimes I just want to sit”. A good book, an engaging (which isn’t the same as good) movie, a good play or gig. Jigsaws and family games are good too. Anything to stop our overachieving minds from chewing on problems is the key.

    Get involved in community activities.
    Whether village hall committee, one of the scouting organisations, am dram or one of the many other local events, you should take time out to be involved. You may even find you enjoy it.

    Tonight I’ll be running the bar at a jazz gig to help out the village hall in our village, in return for them letting me rehearse there with my band once a week. There is a whole barrel of Frothingham Best Ale from Great Newsome Brewery (recently awarded best beer in the world under 5%) to get through. I may be seriously unstressed tomorrow morning!

  3. Justin Hyam · October 18, 2013

    Going down the Pub is always the best option, particularly if it’s mine!

    I would add, get in the kitchen and do some cooking. Whenever the pub paperwork, marketting, staff etc are getting me down, just getting into the kitchen and doing some prep work or making a new dish, not only chills me out, but it inviggorates and motivates me. Gardening is another great stress reliever. I have the oppotunity to grow my own, and then put it on the plate for my customers. I can’t reccomend strongly enough how good gardening and cookery are for de stressing, I strongly reccomend it.
    Of course should this all sounds like too much hard work to aid relaxation, then just come down to my pub at the weekend, for a spot of live music and some great home cooked food! (OK, business plug over!0
    Have a great weekend Ed.

  4. Charlotte Sansome · November 6, 2013

    I often have a play on my guitar (badly) in my lunch break – the joys of working from home! Not only does it relieve tension but I think it also makes me more productive because it stimulates a different area of the brain and gets the creative juices flowing. (Offices, make note to invest in a music room…)
    Great blog, thanks!

    • simonjhudson · November 7, 2013

      Yep, I do that too. I also have 2 guitars I bought especially so I could travel with them – both are compact enough to get in the overhead bins on planes and trains – so I’m not limited to home work days. The Marshall stack is a bit more of a challenge, as is the piano.

      • Charlotte Sansome · November 7, 2013

        Haha, if I start to travel more perhaps I will invest in a ukulele… Or a harmonica…

      • simonjhudson · November 7, 2013

        I tried a harmonica, but never really got to grips with it – shame as I’d love to be able to play that too.

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