Updated: Jan 31
What makes you feel stressed?
Do you struggle with ....
A lack of - credentials, time, courage, money, progress, planning, improvement, helpers, love, friendship, transport options, sleep, confidence, knowledge?
Too much - stuff, responsibility, work, commitment, empathy, online/screen time?
Too many - expectations, dependants, naysayers, tasks, chores, people to please, bosses, things, gadgets, ideas?
Or is it all about poor health, a horrible neighbourhood, awful workmates, or the challenging behaviours of someone you love?
How many did you tick? 0-10: you are stressed. 11-20: you are very stressed. 21+ means you are extremely stressed! No, I made all that up! But really, there are plenty of these 'surveys' on the internet (some are legit), and the take-home-message is that we all probably need to dial it down a notch.
Once upon a time, I felt important because I had "so much to do". I had to learn to trust those I trained, I had to delegate to them, and I had to let go of my oversized sense of ownership! This empowered all of us .. but I was still busy. It seemed that as soon as I emptied my cup of responsibility, it filled up again. Who was doing that?!?!? ... a-hem, me ... I wasn't the only one filling my cup; I had plenty of people who thought I was the "best person for the job", so they'd make me offers that I couldn't refuse! That's right: I couldn't refuse! I loved the buzz of it, but I'd find myself unable to sleep because of all the tasks and ideas going around in my head. Needless to say, I liked to sleep in!
I'm glad that I called time-out and nurtured myself. It's good not to worry so much, and it's great to learn (and master) some strategies to either avoid or reduce stress. And trust me, I know a thing or two ...
Want to know a secret?
The No 1 tip I have for you to reduce the stress in your life is:
Recognise what's important to you (and why).
So if that's the top of the list, then all the others follow. Want to know more? This will change your life!
2. Organise your list of what's most important into two numbered lists that start with verbs. One is the list of "most important things" (with The Utterly Most Important Thing at the top) and the other is the list of "easiest things to achieve already" (with, you guessed it, The Absolute Easiest Thing at the top). You might find there are some overlaps. These lists show not only what's important to you, but also what your goals are. They also give you a hint in how to make your dreams a reality! This is through Action. Oh, and I hope you included "Enjoy some fun" in both lists.
3. Note which goals/actions are at the top of each list, and allocate time and resources to those, and those only. It's wonderful if the same thing appears at the top of both lists, because that makes it even easier to feel good about this and make your dreams a reality.
Now, massage your earlobes! You did good!
4. Outsource whatever you can (using a barter system if required). You don't have to do this alone! Enlist friends and family. Invite colleagues to help! Teach kids independence! Train proteges! Succession plan!
5. Clean out what you don't need from your life, especially from your Too Much and Too Many lists. Declutter and clean! Polish and shine! Your life does not need to be filled with negative energies. Just do it as nicely (but firmly and appropriately) as you can.
6. Hydrate. Eat well. Try to stay sober. Play (or exercise, if that's what it takes).
Now, give yourself a hug! You are really shining at this!!
7. Get 7-8 hours' sleep in every 24-hour period, preferably at the same times. Did you know that having electronic things in your bedroom is not as good for you as having a buzz-free sleep? If you need to have your phone in the room because it has your alarm for the morning, enable the "do not disturb" function and put it out of reach. If it has a power source (even batteries) get it out of your room!
8. Try not to yell, swear or get angry. I know, we all have those moments, but if you are having more of them, or you are having them in front of children and old people, then maybe you are getting angrier and less patient. If you are feeling impatient (with someone else or yourself), go for a run. Two minutes, at your fastest. Get it out of your system and think about how it got there in the first place.
9. Talk to a friend, family member, neighbour, colleague; Lifeline, BeyondBlue; GP, counsellor, psychologist .. if someone says "you need help", then you probably do. Give yourself that time and space - you'll be glad you did.
10. Do a little self-reflection, and let off some stress crackers.
What's that, you don't know what I mean by "stress crackers"?
Sometimes, someone will "light your fuse" and you'll "go off like a cracker". Instead of it being all about your impatience and anger, try to make it more self-reflective. I'll give you some ideas.
High Expectations: Whose are they? Are they realistic? No, of course not, because they're "high". Light that fuse and let it pop, and light up the sky!
Comparing yourself to your peers: Why? Surely there's always someone better off and someone worse off. You, well you're "peerless". Light that fuse and let it pop, and light up the sky!
Feeling Unprotected: Can't define your boundaries? If you use a Yes/No List, and practise saying the N-word, you'll become proficient in it's correct use: it's there to protect you, and you will feel protected by it. Light that fuse and let it pop, and light up the sky!
No: Not now. Not yet. Not ever! Light that fuse and let it pop, and ...!
Goals Too Big: Break them down into what's achievable. Light that fuse and let it pop and ...!
Not Enough Time: Budget - time, resources, energy, money ... Light that fuse and ...!
Go easy on yourself and others - be happy the toilet is clean and the bed is made. Seriously. Light that fuse and ...!
How do you breathe? Short and shallow? Use your diaphragm and breathe slower and more deeply. Ahhh! Light that fuse and ...!
What words do you use? Do you know? Record yourself (with permission of those around you), so you can playback and hear yourself. You might be surprised. Light that fuse and ...!
Imagine stress is a firecracker. But remember: you can make it ugly or make it pretty!
Thanks to a couple of subscribers who reminded me this week that stress is pervasive, and we all need some tactics to smother it!