Stress is your reaction to people or things going on around you. It can be when something good happens like getting a job you want, going on a vacation or when something bad happens, such as illness, a traffic ticket or tension at home.
Three common triggers for stress are:
- Too much to do and not enough time to do it in
- Things are happening around you, and you have no control over them
- People around you have time to do fun things and you don’t
What are some other things that contribute to stress?
Weather certainly can. Extremes in weather that last longer than several days can create a sense of tension, frustration, and higher levels of stress.
In addition, it is known that high unemployment rates cause difficulties for many individuals and families. Fortunately, there is some improvement in this area during the year.
Another common contributing factor to the increase in people’s perception of stress is the information overload that appears to be almost everywhere. During the day, you may find yourself struggling to balance and juggle several things at the same time. Juggling requires a lot of effort and energy to keep things going. Studies on the brain indicate multi-tasking usually does not work.
Before discussing an important skill that can decrease stress, I want you to be aware of some common myths about stress. Three myths are:
- Stress is the same for everyone. The fact is that each person responds differently to stress.
- Stress is always bad for you. Yes, long-term stress contributes to health problems. However, when it is managed, it can be productive.
- Stress can feel like it is everywhere, and you can’t do anything about it. In reality, there are several things you can do to manage stress.
The good news is there is a solution to living a life filled with stress even when what is creating the stress is out of your control – like the weather.
When you find yourself feeling stressed, it is time to prioritize. For some people, prioritizing is a lost skill. So many things are going on in their lives, it is almost automatic to respond to them in the order in which they happen. Reading email is an example. Unless you have set up a system for sorting your email, you are likely to read through the list in a top down order.
It does not have to be this way. Prioritizing can bring order and confidence to your life. Having a plan for your day helps you focus and move through your day more confidently.
It helps to begin your day with a minimum of five minutes of quiet time. During this time, the most important thing to do is to think about how you want to be as you do the things you have to do.
It also helps to be able to calm yourself by imagining yourself:
- Making choices calmly and confidently about using your strengths to complete the things that are urgent and important
- Focusing on what you are doing and efficiently moving through the items one by one
- Keeping your energy level steady as you complete the necessary items for the day
- Having time to relax before the day ends
After you have determined how you want to be during the times of the day that could be stressful, choose a time when you are feeling alert to prioritize your day. It might be the evening before the next day, during your morning quiet time, or another time in the morning that works best for you.
As you prioritize, you need to consider:
- Your values and strengths
- What is important and why
- What is urgent
You can set this up in a grid with four squares inside a larger square – two squares on top and two below. Across the top two squares, write “Urgent” above the first top box and “Not Urgent” above the second top box. Down the left side of the large square, write “Important” by the first box and “Not Important” by the box below the first box.
To review, Box 1 at the top is for Urgent and Important things. Box two at the top is for Not Urgent but Important things. Box 3 (under Box 1) is for Urgent but Not Important things, and Box 4 (under Box 2) is for Not Urgent and Not important things.
As you think about your day, put the things you need and want to do in the appropriate boxes. You will find most of the things in Boxes 1, 2, and 3 will be the things you end up doing. If you have time, you will get to the things listed in Box 4 (Not Urgent and Not Important).
This tool helps make prioritizing quick and easy. It establishes a sequence of what to do and when to do it. During the day, you will need to take short breaks and do some deep, slow breaths to recharge your brain because stress decreases its effectiveness. Breathing slowly and deeply helps you manage distractions, stay focused and stabilizes your energy level.
Prioritizing what you need and want to do during this season of joy and peace helps you move through your day calmly with confidence. Also, remember to accept what you cannot change. Have empathy and seek support if you need it. Finally, talk to yourself in an encouraging and positive way to keep a positive attitude.
With practice, remembering how you want to be and choosing it will help you mange stressful times throughout the holidays and your life. It’s not about “can” you do this; it’s about “will” you do it?
Prioritize and be at peace!
If you are looking for ways to manage stress, let’s talk. Email me for a complimentary Lifestyle Transition Conversation to ensure your life is satisfying, meaningful and joy-filled.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time,