Our first strategy for dealing with stress was to reduce unnecessary distractions. Step two in reducing stress is reining in an out of control schedule.
A significant source of stress comes from those things that we want to do but have gotten out of hand and started to take over our life. Many of us raise our hands whenever a call goes out for an extra project at work or volunteer organization. We do it because we want to help out or serve or just show our boss that we are invested in our job. But all too often, we get into the habit of raising our hand automatically. Eventually others start to rely on us as the one that will always bake the cookies or do the social media research or whatever is needed, and a horrible cycle of stress is born. So what do we do when we want to be involved and serve without it taking over our lives? Here are a few tricks that I try to employ.
Keep your calendar up-to-date: When it comes to committing to projects, I can be a gunslinger, a say-yes-now-ask-questions-later kind of gal. This means I can say yes to several things at once without realizing it. A simple way to prevent this is to keep your calendar updated and on your person. When the call goes out for someone to lead/do/orchestrate something, you pause, look at your calendar, and, if you are legitimately unengaged, then you can consider it. If you are otherwise engage, the question of volunteering is already answered: No.
Schedule self-care: Now that you have your calendar all up-to-date, you need to start scheduling self-care. This could be your workouts, time to take a bath, or just time to sit in your room and stare at the wall. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s time for restoration. Make these appointments, and then keep them as diligently as you would a doctor’s appointment.
Say yes strategically: Say yes to those things that you have always wanted to do, things that are passion projects, or things that just really excite you. Do not say yes just because no one else has. If you are the only one saying yes in your group/job/family then either the group/job/family doesn’t actually prioritize that task or someone else needs to step up. Either way, you aren’t overloading yourself with things you’d rather not be doing.
As always, I hope these ideas inspire you to take control of your stress so that you can enjoy your life and take care of your body.
For more post in this series check out Stress Part 1: Stop letting stress steal your joy and Stress Part 3:Sometimes you have to rethink the whole thing. Stress Part 4: Don’t feed the stress.