Let’s dive in and address the stress.
“The glorification of busy” is real. Many of us do or have equated being busy with success; or having non-stop hustle with success; or saying, “I’m literally scheduling time to go to the bathroom,” with success. But is that making us healthy and happy?
If you answered, “HELL NO!”, ask yourself the following questions:
- What in your life can you outsource? And if you’re stuck with this answer or you’re saying to yourself, “Haha, nothing,” please consider reading this to get some ideas going. I guarantee there is something on your plate that 1. Can be done by someone who may be able to do the task better than you; 2. By giving the task to someone else to do, will free up time for you to focus on more important things (like spending time with kids or working on your passion project or getting a much-needed massage).
- Do I have too much going on on weekends? Some clients and I were asking each other, “When did we arrive at a point in our lives that we have to schedule time to see friends over a month in advance?” I don’t know the answer to that but the point is: The time we are meant to use to recharge our batteries can sometimes be more depleting than the weekdays that have us longing for the weekend in the first place. If you feel this way, where can you trim the fat?
- What’s really important to me? Am I spending too much of my time focusing and giving energy to things that are not important in my life (like scrolling through Instagram mindlessly for half an hour?).
- At the end of the day, what needs to be done to make the day off as “successful”? There will never be more than 24 hours in a day and there will always be something else to do. But how many things really need to be DONE by the end of the day? Can you prioritize those in your schedule? Can you review what you HAVE accomplished before ending the day to thank yourself for doing the best you could? This finally brings me to:
- Can you set an end time to your work day? I love being an entrepreneur and I love my businesses. Because of this, it can be really easy for me to keep working late into the night. If you’re like this, too, could you put a hard end time to your work day so you can give yourself time to recharge before going to bed?
Whether you’re an extrovert, and introvert or both (an ambivert!), you may need different ways to relax and recharge!
Introverts’ batteries recharge with alone time (that means alone. Like, away from partners, kids, parents, etc, no matter how much they love them). Extroverts are the opposite! Their batteries deplete with TOO much alone time. And then there’s the Ambivert, who possesses traits from both the Introvert and the Extrovert which means it can be a little tricker to hone in on the best ways to reduce stress.
Since most people fall into the Ambivert category, I thought we’d take inventory of the flow of our days:
- What time of the day are you the most alert and ready to face the day?
- What time of the day are you typically looking to find some peace and quiet?
- What situations are currently causing you to feel stress/dread/anger/etc?
- What situations are currently causing you to feel calm/optimistic/energized/etc?
- How can you use your answers to maximize the good feelings and minimize the bad?
I ran into a friend of mine Wednesday morning in a coffee shop as I was writing this post. We were talking about how the weather would finally be changing and I said, “People are going to be bouncing off the walls with glee!” and Theresa replied, “You should talk about how being outside is a great stress-reliever!” And it is! If you look up “Can nature reduce stress?” you’ll find a plethora of information and links. Here’s a fantastic piece from National Geographic if you want to know more about what being in nature does to the “overstressed brain”.
But let’s say you can’t always get out into nature. What are some simple things you can do to alter your person-made environment to reduce stress:
- Pay attention to noise pollution: How much background noise is there in the rooms you spend the most time in? Can you turn it down? (Some easy ways to do this are using a white noise machine or app on your phone; or getting noise-cancelling headphones; or making sure you don’t have two TVs and a radio going at the same time.) If you want to know more, here is a piece Time ran a few months ago about the link between noise pollution and heart health.
- Pay attention to what you’re watching/listening to/reading: Netflix has some awesome true crime shows out but do you need to watch any/all of them? There’s a lot of “breaking” news throughout the day but do you need to be on top of all of it all the time? The answer is simply “NO” and I’ll leave it at that. (Unless you’d like to revisit this post about self-care during the Age Of Reactive News…)
- Pay attention to clutter: Is your desk filled with piles of different projects in your line of sight? If it is, it may be causing you to multitask which can help fuel the feeling that nothing’s getting done, adding to stress. Can you put those piles somewhere that’s out of sight so you can work on one project at a time?
At the end of the day, I know there are a host of life things you can’t change (at least not immediately): Your demanding job, your family status, the state of the world. I do hope, though, that you now have a few tactics you can employ to make life a little bit less chaotic and a little more zen.
And now I want to know: What do YOU do in your life that helps keep the stress down? Leave your comments below!