Let’s Talk About Stress

By Briana Boehmer

It has become increasingly apparent to me that most of us live very stress-filled lives. Sometimes I wonder why we stress ourselves out so much. Why the hurry? Why so many commitments? Believe me, I am no stranger to overcommitting my time and overfilling my plate. Recently I sat down and thought about times in my life where I was nearly stress-free, when relaxation was the name of the game. One thing kept popping up in my mind, summer break from my grade school years. Ahhh, those were the days!

In the real world, summer is like most other seasons for the most part…BUSY! However, the idea of relaxation and taking a break is something we should think about and make a priority year round. I want you to think back to the time when you had those extended summer breaks. What did you do? How did you feel? Wanting to go back to those days? Good! Let’s brainstorm how you can recreate relaxed moments in your busy schedule.

Time Management Is Key

One common culprit of stress is the “feeling of overwhelm” – too many things to do and not enough time. First and foremost, work to NOT over-commit yourself. If you are one of those people who just can’t say no (like me), learn to put your foot down and just say NO! It is OK to not do everything for everyone. Next look at how you manage the things you do.

Do you:

  1. Have a plan each day? Clearly lay out each day and week. A plan keeps you on track and notifies you of things you don’t have time to do.
  2. Prioritize? When you plan your days and weeks do you put the important “must do” things top on the list? Don’t procrastinate the important tasks and obligations. When important things get put to the wayside, stress is inevitable.
  3. Write things down? When you plan and prioritize how do you remember what you are doing when? When you keep track of your tasks and write them down you are more likely to remember what you have to do and when they must be done.
  4. Take on tasks in manageable chunks? If you have a big project due break it up into manageable pieces. Trying to do too much all at once will bring on near immediate stress.
  5. Delegate? Your co-workers, family, and friends are all a piece of the puzzle. Don’t take on tasks that are truly meant for others to do or that another can do more efficiently (meaning it is their job!).
  6. Work efficiently? Efficiency has many components. Taking the time to do something well the first time means you were efficient! Giving the proper time and environment to complete something also lends to efficiency. Don’t rush an important task AND create an environment that allows you to complete the task well. Close your door, turn off the radio, and keep distractions at a minimum!
  7. Take breaks?! 1 hour of concentrated effort is often better than 3 hours of interrupted and distracted effort. Everyone is different in how long they can stay on task, but studies show that most people tend to loose focus around 50 minutes to 1 hour. Taking a 10-15 minute break to either work on a different task or just relax can rejuvenate and refocus your efforts.
  8. TAKE CARE OF YOU? Above all make sure you are getting ample sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition. A tired and fatigued you is a very inefficient you. Also make sure you surround yourself with people who support you. A good support system can create an excellent framework for defusing stress and managing time.

Time management and stress reduction is no easy task. However, if you follow the simple tips above you will be on your way to creating more time for YOU and the things YOU love to do! If you find yourself trapped with more than you can handle don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. Strategizing with an objective perspective can help you better determine where you can improve your daily schedule and create the serenity we all need!

With summer now in full force, I wish you a few days with your feet up and sunglasses on!

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