Some tips for tackling stress
Stressed and tired? Read your teaching breaking point? You’re not alone.
According to The American Institute of Stress (yes, it exists), about 33 percent of people report extreme stress. If you are experiencing stress, there are common ways to reorganize your daily life to streamline your day. Still, if you are experiencing extreme, debilitating stress, I found a far better solution than life-hacking tips to save time.
Instead, try something radical.
How to cure the stress
Take a weekend completely off. Unplug your electronics for at least half of the day on Saturday and Sunday. Be mindful and check in with your feelings. How do you feel? Guilty? You most likely feel guilty. So, then we come to the second step.
List your life priorities
Perhaps you are hoarding tasks the way hoarders collect objects. I started watching Hoarders recently and binge-watched the whole series. It is amazing! The main takeaway from hoarders is that many prioritize their family and loved ones. Still, their daily compulsions do the opposite: their hoarding pushes people away.
What is most important to you? Put these in honest order. Feel free to add another value you have, too, of course
- giving back to society
Some people choose a career over anything else, and that is valid. If this is you, then own it. Shed the guilt. You must reassess if you prioritize family but find your day full of work tasks.
Consciously choose one task
Another way to say this is to “swallow the frog.”
It means you pick ONE most important thing to do each day. This one thing needs to align with your values. Then, you did it first thing.
That’s it! You’ll free great because you accomplished the most important thing hanging over your head. Even if you only did one thing, it will be what you cared about most.
So, if you are behind on your taxes, work tasks, and calling your friends back, consider…which task aligns with my priority? If friends were your priority, then drop all other tasks. Call your friend. That is your ONE task for the day.
What if your one important task is too big to do in a day? You break it up into smaller tasks and do only one step daily.
*Pro tip: write down the one thing that matters to you that day. Get the biggest, fattest black marker you can find. When you finish the task, cross it out with that broad marker. It’ll feel so cathartic, I promise.
Anything you get done after one task is above and beyond your goal! You did the one thing? Great! Did you call your friend? Great! You accomplished your entire day!
Learn to say no
This brings us to the obvious follow-up issue: won’t I fall behind on all my tasks? Yes. Yes, you will. You need to be brave and trust the process. You will be far, far happier.
Align your tasks with your values. Then, shed anything extra. The stress will fall considerably.
That means saying no to all sorts of things you feel you should do and lots of things you want to do. The cold reality is we cannot do everything we want in life. Life is a finite amount of time. We need to choose.
Organizing your life according to what is most important to you ensures you get what matters done.
Respond don’t react
A reaction is caused by someone or something else. A response is taking control. You are mindful and not emotionally reacting to whatever is thrown at you.
Practical ways to respond rather than reacting
Check your email only once a day
Don’t check your email throughout the day. If someone messages, you don’t need to react. Others’ urgency should not dictate your life. Choose a time of day to respond to emails, and that’s it.
Check your voicemails only once a day
Stop answering your phone.
I worked as a paralegal briefly, and this was the first lesson my boss taught me. Just because someone calls you doesn’t mean you need to answer. Sounds simple, right?
This was a powerful lesson for me. You don’t need to be available to people on their timelines. If you answer a phone call, you’re already on the back foot. The person calling you knows what they need or want from you, but you have no idea and are at a disadvantage. They called you when it was convenient for them, but you picked up when it may not have been convenient for you.
Rebalances the scales. Learn to screen all your calls without guilt. Set up your voicemail, and you no longer need to answer the phone. Check the voicemail once a day if needed, or even better, set up voice-to-text service so you can scan your voicemails like emails and skip listening to them altogether.
Take control: The sympathetic nervous system.
Stress manifests in the body. Your body experiences a flood of hormones, and your body’s alertness, heart rate, and blood pressure rise. Take control.
If this interests you, check out my other posts.