Even the best Rx for preventing stress isn't foolproof. So the next time you feel a surge of adrenaline rushing through your veins, ask yourself this critical question: What's my personality type? If you're a type A, meditation won't work. Here are the best emergency stress reduction techniques for both personality types, A & B.
Type A Personality
Aggressive and Competitive at work, easily upset and angered, feels restless during periods of inactivity.
Craig B. Mardus, the author of "How to Stop Worry in One Second" (Warner Books, 1995), suggests that when you feel yourself getting tight and tense, think about all things risky and risque: great sex ... doing a 360 on skis ... a hole in one ... acing your tennis serve ... great sex again! There's probably a smile on your face, and the worry is G-O-N-E! The reason? Sexual fantasies help you switch from feeling tense to feeling excited. The goal is to give you a good feeling, says Mardus, not a relaxed feeling.
Coordinates: Craig Mardus, 189 Stratton Road, Williamstown, MA 01267
Type B Personality
Cooperative and collaborative, rarely time-driven and sometimes late, enjoys leisure-time.
If you have the patience to take 60 seconds out of your schedule, then the following technique should work for you. It comes from Ernesto Randolfi, who researches stress at Montana State University at Billings.
Stay alert for symptoms. Are you breathing faster? Are your fists clenched? You cant alleviate the symptoms without first identifying them.
Breathe from your abdomen. Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale slowly from your abdomen, not your chest.
Let go of muscular tension. If you're making a fist, unclench it. If your jaw is set tight, relax it as you exhale.
Think positive thoughts. To dispel anxiety, say out loud : "I can handle this."
Repeat as necessary. The technique gets more automatic the more you practice.
Coordinates: Ernesto Randolfi, firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this article appeared in the Dec 1996/Jan 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.