Sheila Lirio Marcelo is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Care.com. Care.com is the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, helping families find babysitters, nannies, senior caregivers, pet sitters, housekeepers, and more!
We finally had beautiful weather in Boston for the July 4th weekend (after four straight weeks of rain!), and we invited our extended family over to our place for a barbecue. But during the fun and fireworks, there was some emotional stress in our household. Our older guy, Ryan (who is now 17), exerted his independence a bit, decided to stay out all night without permission, and didn’t come home. Ron and I are still in the midst of resolving it with him, and we’ve had to put some tough consequences in place.
After returning to work post-holiday, my mind was still churning about the emotional turmoil at home. I realized that the unsettled feeling impacts my mindset at work. It’s not surprising—it’s so tough to separate the two. Just being at work doesn’t mean you’re not thinking about home life and vice versa. Through the years, I’ve found some helpful stress management techniques to get through the day and I’d like to share them with you.
Every morning, before I check email, look at my to-do list, or make breakfast, I spend a few minutes meditating alone. When I’m at home, I like to go by myself to a window overlooking our backyard (where I can see the gardening work Ron and I have done on the weekends), relax, and do some deep breathing exercises. If I’m on the road in a hotel room, my view isn’t always as comforting or serene, but I still make sure to run through my morning routine, no matter where I am. I’ve found that if the first thing you do when you wake up is hit the ground running, you’re far more likely to feel pressured and stressed out. But just a few minutes of quiet reflection can help set the tone for the entire day.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine visited Care.com and we spent the afternoon in a company-sponsored stress management workshop. Not only was it a great way to step away from our desks, but Janet Doucette (of Mindful Technology) shared tips with everyone on how to manage stress.
Janet also talked quite a bit about the chemical reactions stress causes in your brain—it impairs decision making, speeds heart rate, and actually snowballs into even more stress. However, simple exercises like spending just five to 10 minutes breathing deeply and visualizing “calm, relaxed, and warm” images can not only counteract the effects of stress, but also help make you stress-resistant in the future.
There are times, though, when life just really gets to you. I’ve developed a little “meltdown prevention tactic” for when that happens to me at home or work. I call it the 4-7-8 method. It’s pretty simple—four seconds breathing in, seven seconds holding my breath, and eight seconds breathing out. Repeat four times and it works like a charm!
Being a parent or having caregiving responsibilities for others can be a huge burden at times (even though it’s also a great blessing). Trying to balance work and home life is never easy, but there are ways we can combat stress!
As you go through your day at home or at work, how do you cope with stressful situations?
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