Stress. We all have it. We all deal with it on a daily basis. While some level of stress can be good for us, excess stress, or stress that results in physical or mental health symptoms, should be managed to avoid negative health outcomes.
When stress stresses you out
The best way to know whether the level of stress you are experiencing is OK, or is excessive and possibly harmful, is to pay close attention to your body and mind.
Are you experiencing signs of “fight or flight” such as elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, or changes in vision? Do you have otherwise unexplained physical symptoms like:
- Random aches and pains
- Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing
- Exhaustion or trouble sleeping
- Headaches, dizziness or shaking
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension or jaw clenching
- Stomach or digestive problems
- Weak immune system
Or, are you aware of signs of mental distress such as:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Panic attacks
Time is on your side
One of your best tools for managing excess stress is to practice good time management. Lack of time, running out of time and being “up against the clock” are all sources of stress that you can have some control over.
According to the Stress Management Society, “Time management helps you to reduce long-term stress by giving you direction when you have too much work to do.” Sounds good, right? But, how, exactly, do you manage your time when you only have 24 hours in a day, and it feels like you have 28 hours’ worth of things to do?
Simple steps to time management
Being overwhelmed is the enemy of time management and the best friend of stress, so let’s get you organized.
- Make lists…lots and lots of listsThere’s no award for keeping all your tasks organized in your head. When you can see what you need to do written in a list, you may find that you actually have less on your plate than you thought.Next, organize that list around into “Must dos” and “Want to dos.” Once that is done, rank each of the items in the lists in terms of priority and due date. Now you can clearly see what you have to do today, and what can wait until tomorrow or next week.
- Clear the clutterIs your inbox looking like a dumping ground for everything anyone has ever sent you? This can be overwhelming and be a cause of stress. Set aside 10 minutes each day to go through your inbox, delete items you don’t need to save, keep actionable items, and file the rest. If you do this daily, your inbox will act as a second to-do list and help keep you organized.
- Create and maintain a calendarWe know that we have to put things like dental appointments and lunch with the boss into our calendars, but what about scheduling breaks or time for daily meditation? You can also set aside time each day, or week, to scroll through social media for work-related articles or for prospecting. Your calendar can become your best organization buddy and help reduce daily stress.
- Take a breakIf you’re thinking, “I don’t have time for a break,” then you need a break more than you know! Breaks are not wasted time. Breaks are much-needed reset time for your brain and for your eyes. Even a five-minute stroll outside or to the office break room can help you focus better when you return to your work.
While there is no way to eliminate stress in our lives, we can learn to manage excess stress with a few simple techniques. Now take a deep breath…and go for a walk.
This article does not constitute medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your qualified heath care professionals with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your individual needs and any medical conditions.