I’ve had several clients in the last couple of weeks who were dealing with stress that was off the charts. One of these clients ended up in the hospital with an erratic heart beat that was caused from stress. Another found himself in the emergency room with stroke symptoms. I’m not sure what is ratcheting up our stress levels right now, but stress can wreak havoc on your voice and delivery (click here to read my post on what it can do). I think it’s time to discuss some ways to combat stress on a continuing basis.
The way I approach coping with stress is to explain that we need a way to go from point A to point B in life. Point A is all the craziness of life. It might be too many voice-over jobs to juggle all at once or the split second deadlines of television reporting. Whatever it is, it’s pushing your stress level into the stratosphere. Point B is the exact opposite of Point A. It’s when your body and mind are as relaxed as possible, and all the craziness of life has faded away.
Ideally, we should experience Point B daily for at least twenty minutes or longer. But even a few minutes will be beneficial.
Now the big question: how do we get to Point B? My clients have shared many ways that work for them. Some use recorded meditations like these by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Simply focusing on your breath is also a great meditation (check out my video on breathing). Others listen to relaxing music or do yoga. One client said she colors in a coloring book for thirty minutes when she comes home from work. (Check out these cool designs to color.) Drawing or painting became too competitive for her so coloring is perfect. It’s good to pick a mindless, non competitive activity.
So think about it. What’s your Point B? Leave a comment below and let’s share helpful ways to relax (there are already some good ones under “Comments” for you to read!).
Start going to your Point B everyday for a visit, and you might avoid the stratosphere of stress that can make you sick and wreck your voice.
To learn more about what stress does to the body, download this free pdf of an article I wrote on the subject.
As coincidence would have it, you posted this on the same day that my Broadcast Voice class at UNC-Chapel Hill covered Chapter 9 of your Broadcast Voice Handbook, Dealing With Stress.
One technique I recommend I learned from my good friend Robert Van Winkle, a meteorologist who ran the weather department in the TV station where we both worked. Robert scheduled appointments with himself in his office calendar every day. He set aside time to not only get away from his desk, but also to leave the building. Sometimes he would walk through a nearby park. Other times he would stroll through a nearby shopping area, chatting with folks as he went along. Since he was the on-air weather guy for our primary newscast, people usually recognized him and offered warm greetings and friendly comments. By leaving the building he also reminded himself, of course, that there was a real world just outside the door where he could always break from workday stress for a while.
Now that Spring is here, I’m following Robert’s example on a daily basis.
Great advice, Dave! This is just the kind of thing I hope readers will share as comments to this blog post! Enjoy your break today!!
My point B is a complete separation from technology. It’s that time of the day when the iMac is off, the iPhone is off, there’s no TV, no radio. No beeping, dinging or ringing. It’s just complete and total solitude. I may be outdoors, or on the couch in driving along a country road. Good old fashioned peace and quiet works for me.
Marc, I love your idea of a perfect Point B. I agree with you that it’s the technology that sometimes seems to follow us everywhere. Thanks for leaving a comment that will help all my readers.