Stress becomes destructive when you have just one more thing to deal with than you can handle and you let it eat at you. When I would get up in the morning and fix breakfast for my two children who at the time, were ages 8 and 11, they would ask me for cereal, toast, jelly, and a sandwich for lunch. I was fine until they changed their minds and wanted eggs. At that point I was stressed. I was on overload. In my professional life, I have dealt with far more difficult issues and felt less stressed. I started to think about why was I stressed in one situation and not the other. I realized – Stress is connected to perception. The way we view things causes us to be or not to be stressed. What evolved from that awareness were some rules to de-stress life.
Dealing with Time Pressures
If something doesn’t get done it is not the end of the world. Too often we tell ourselves that if we don’t complete something, there will be a disaster. To de-stress ourselves we have to take a closer look at that assumption. Not everything is a do or die situation.
Don’t be locked into a deadline. Even though a time is set, think in terms of changing that timetable. As a parent sometimes we set our own deadlines. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that will happen if it doesn’t get done today?” Do part of the task, and take care of the next step later in the day or schedule it for another time. You may have to go shopping, take care of work or home issues, talk with someone, and keep your promise to buy something for your child on the same day. Maybe you can leave a quick message to the person you are supposed to call, and buy a small thing at the store over the weekend. Pace yourself. Push during high energy periods. Slow down or stop when you are tired.
Organization as Anti stress Tool – Budget yourself. Start with an easy task if you are tired. Tackle a difficult issue if you are at the top of your game.
Prioritize. Decide which project is the most important and which one is the least. Is there a time frame? What will happen if something gets done at a later time? Too often the task in front of us is the one we work at. Often the one we like the least is the last one we want to deal with. If you prioritize by prominence or preference you’ll pay the stress price later on
Slice it Up. Break down the task into smaller parts. This rule deals effectively with the problem of overload.
Ask for technical help. If you are overwhelmed, find someone who can give you insight about short cuts in terms of handling the project. Too often we try and ‘tough it out’, or we are too frantic to stop and ask for directions and information.
Allocate. See if you can get someone to help with small pieces of the task.
Emotional issues and stress. Become aware of your fear. Often times stress is fear driven. A person might feel that if I don’t press I will lose everything, I will get fired, nothing will ever get done, I will get yelled at , or during my review l will get a lower performance rating.
These suggestions are designed as a checklist. If you are feeling stressed, ask yourself “am I following these rules?” Distress is about what you do with what you get. Beauty and unhealthy stress are both in the eye and the actions of the beholder.