13 TED Talks to help you de-stress - TED Talk stress management

When you’re stressed at work, you carry that stress into other areas of your life, at home and in your relationships.

Everyone has advice for you, telling you to “Just relax” or “Take a break.” If only it were that easy.

Maybe it could be.

There’s no switch to flip to unload the weight of stress, but sometimes a stranger says the perfect thing that makes it all click into the right perspective. TED talks will help you reconnect in order to feel relaxed, validated and motivated.

There are all kinds of talks to address the root of different moods and concerns listed here that can help you find your center:

  1. Got a Meeting? Take A Walk, by Nilofer Merchant

Did you know you’re spend more time sitting than sleeping? If you don’t want to be doing both at your next meeting, pay attention when Nilofer Merchant advises you to walk and talk during your meeting. Most people spend 9.3 hours a day sitting and 7.7 hours sleeping. So walk it out, and talk it out.

  1. How to Stay Calm When You Know You’ll Be Stressed, by David Levitin

It’s going to be one of those weeks. Your gut knows it, or maybe it’s a given, that time of year where meetings are booked solid and the holidays are around the corner.

Neuroscientist David Levitin’s advice for keeping your sanity in check is to catch yourself as you’re triggered by stress. Everybody fails once in a while, and if you think ahead to what those perceived failures may be and address them at a core level, your mind won’t be clouded and stressed.

  1. Make Stress Your Friend, by Kelly McGonigal

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

According to psychologist Kelly McGonigal, it’s a legitimate psychological technique that will help stress become your ally and motivate you to do your best.

McGonigal cites one study that tracked 30,000 people for eight years, which asked about their stress levels and if they thought stress was harmful. The researchers also kept track of death records. Those who believed stress was harmful had a 43 percent increased risk of dying.

The flip side contains better news: In a separate study, those who viewed their stress responses as helpful remained calm and felt more confident.

Listen to the talk to finally make friends with stress. It’s for your own good.

  1. The Art of Stillness, by Pico Iyer

Travel writer Pico Iyer has been places and seen many wonders, and the place he most desires to go is nowhere. This TED talk offers a way for you to reclaim and revision how you see your life rush by you and how to pause, revisit and claim time and space for yourself. Iyer discusses how you really only need a second, not a second home, to fall in love with your world and the world around you by paying attention.

  1. The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen

Does your to-do list plan your day for you? Productivity consultant David Allen wants you to revise the way you see your day. Don’t focus on getting stuff done from an endless to-do list. Learn to appropriately engage with your day as it unfolds. Become more productive and stress-free, by giving the right portion of time to the right things.

  1. Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid, by Guy Winch

Psychologist Guy Winch is a major advocate of taking self-care time when you need it. Your mental health needs the same type of care and consideration that you give your body, and you are not weak for needing or taking time to practice emotional first aid.

In fact, it’s basic emotional hygiene to treat wounds that create or bring up emotions of failure or loneliness before they fester. You tend to ruminate and relive these instances in your mind over and over. Even a two-minute break or distraction is enough to shake up the pattern enough to shatter it and encourage healing, with practice.

  1. A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit, by Judson Brewer

Bad habits have deep roots, especially when stress grows into procrastination rather than productivity. Psychiatrist Judson Brewer has a simple way to break bad habits, whether that’s an urge to smoke, overeat or not put your phone down.

The key is curiosity: A little mindfulness goes a long way to recognizing and acknowledging those urges without engaging in them. You separate the senses from the need to follow up on the urge.

  1. For Parents, Happiness Is a Very High Bar, by Jennifer Senior

Author of “All Joy and No Fun,” Jennifer Senior has a different take on happiness when it comes to life, love and the joy of raising children. The roles of mother, husband and child have changed dramatically in the last hundred years, and much of parenting is improvisation, pieces of information you collect from relatives and the endless books on the subject.

Happiness as paramount sometimes leads parents to material excesses and endless worries, when the answer is simpler: to hope, do good works and keep on trying to do the best you can.

  1. As Work Gets More Complex, Six Rules to Simplify, by Yves Morieux

Does every role you take on seem to take more out of you? As more is demanded of you, of course you feel stressed and disengaged. Consultant Yves Morieux has advice to help you navigate interoffice independencies and simplify the chaos.

All parts must cooperate with each other, like in the building of a car. The first part of simplification is understanding what the parts do and why, and understanding what people do and why. Look beyond the job descriptions of the professional, and strip the layers back to the basics.

  1. How Frustration Can Make Us More Creative, by Tim Hartford

It’s one thing to see a situation not as a problem but as a challenge to be overcome. It’s another to remove the frustration and stress you experience in the process of overcoming it, but frustration is the key to unlocking creative thinking and your sense of spontaneity.

Journalist Tim Hartford encourages people to make use of the mess, to let those restrictions focus you into embracing the power and beauty of what you have to get the job done, even more successfully than you may imagine. Why not try?

  1. What Fear Can Teach Us, by Karen Thompson Walker

There was once a shipwrecked sailor lost in the vast Pacific Ocean, left with three directions to choose from. Each choice had its perils but a chance to save lives. How do you make that kind of choice?

In telling the tale of the Essex whaleship, Novelist Karen Thompson Walker uses the art of storytelling to show you how fear drives imagination. She forces you to imagine different futures, both positive and negative, and how to navigate the waters of choice.

  1. All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes, by Andy Puddicome

Are you a tech addict? It’s hard not to be in this technological age. Gadgets and gizmos are everywhere, and as much as you’d love to dump your computer off a bridge into the great Atlantic, you can’t.

Entrepreneur and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicome swears by the 10-minute mental health break, once a day, to ease your mind and return to center. Ironically, the TED talk is about the same length. Listen to Puddicome’s journey to monkhood and how he came to the path of mindfulness.

  1. The Power of Time Off, by Stefan Sagmeister

Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister shuts down his New York studio every seven years to take an entire year off. Is the seven-year itch a real thing?

Regardless, Sagmeister believes in the power of time off, taking a sabbatical to revitalize one’s creativity. Sagmeister says people spend 25 years learning, 40 years working and 15 years typically in retirement. His idea is to use five of those retirement years to infuse new life into stagnancy, to rest and revitalize. In this talk, Sagmeister also shows off his ingenious projects inspired from his sabbatical in Bali.

Stress doesn’t have to be your enemy. Take time to breathe and let these voices sink in. What resonates with where you are right now? What do you need?

Do you have a go-to de-stress tip, or a favorite TED talk to share? Tell us in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to the PC newsletter for more inspiration to infuse into your career path!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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