April is Stress Awareness month, and if you’re like me, your haughty response was, “Stress? Yes, I’m aware, thank you!” With the summer months closing in, the weather is improving; work time will soon be tempered by your family’s changing schedules and fun in the sun may start to feel like a stress agent versus relaxation. We pulled together a few resources to make this list of suggestions to help you manage the time you have with the time you need.
According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 35% of surveyed individuals cited jobs interfering with their family or personal time as a significant source of stress.
Do you live to work or work to live? This is a question many of us ask daily. Below are a few tips to help make more time for the people and activities that matter the most.
- Schedule in personal time: When you pull out your phone or tablet to enter your schedule for the week or month make sure to enter in time for family, friends and those activities that help you rejuvenate. “It helps to be proactive about scheduling,” says Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver and author of SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. “When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls’ night out on the calendar for 1 month later.”
Planning weekly activities with your family will also help you spend quality time together rather than having time slip away.
- Change up your summer schedule: The weather is changing, so can you! Summer is a great time to mix things up with your schedule. If you can, think about shifting to an earlier or later work schedule. What about shifting to a four-day work week? This will leave you with one full day to spend time with family or devote to a fun activity.
- Rethink common chores: Think about those common tasks that just have to be done, such as grocery shopping, house cleaning and running errands. Are there ways you can outsource some of these tasks to free up valuable time? Planning meals ahead and ordering groceries online for delivery can not only save time, but money as well!
48% of surveyed individuals say stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional life.
If you don’t have much control over the hours you work, ask yourself, “How else am I bringing more enjoyment into my life?” “Focus your time and attention on the things you can control,” says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.
- Drop it: Think about the activities that do not benefit your personal life or career, and devote less time to them. Earlier we spoke about outsourcing common errands—be ready to step away from those activities and conversations that sap your time and energy.
- Move it: It can feel impossible to find the time to fit in a workout or exercise time with a packed schedule, but it’s worth it. Regular exercise helps boost your energy level and your ability to concentrate – research proves it! Once you fit a workout in, each consecutive workout will feel more like a must than a burden.
- Relax: A little relaxation can go a long way. Small changes to your routine can bring big benefits. Brooks recommends setting realistic goals, like leaving the office earlier one night per week. “Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you,” he says. “Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on your hobby of carpentry, or planning a weekend getaway with your spouse once a year.”
Work it Out
Money and work are the leading causes of stress (mentioned by three quarters of Americans).
You’re living the dream–you own your own business, you are your own boss! With as many rewards as this brings, it also brings challenges and the stresses that go along with being in charge. Many of the above suggestions can help at home and in the workplace.
- Rethink common chores: When thinking about your errands at home, consider how you can also streamline processes at work. Are there tasks that you can outsource in order to simplify or decrease the time spent on them? Bookkeeping and scheduling are some of the most time consuming “chores” for any business. Think about outsourcing these tasks. Both PaySimple and BookSimple can help with economical payment platforms and free booking software.
- Break it down: Take those big projects and break them into sub-tasks. Don’t let that sales proposal overwhelm you–take it down to its parts: 1) find old proposal, 2) create new outline, 3) identify reviewers, etc.
- Stop with the multitasking: Take time off from the alarms and alerts that interrupt your concentration. Schedule time to answer emails and update your social media. The world will continue until you call back.
Coping with Stress
Let’s face it, no matter what steps you take to alleviate stress; it will creep in now and again. If you never felt stressed, how would you ever know when you were relaxed? It’s important to be proactive in your approach.
Here’s a list of a few practical steps that can help when the above suggestions just aren’t enough:
- Note what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do. Celebrate more, moan less.
- Recognize the signs–are you having trouble sleeping, becoming easily angered, feeling depressed or lacking in energy, have you increased alcohol or other substance use? These are all physical symptoms of stress.
- Reach out to others – be ready to ask for help from friends, family and your community to provide emotional and other supports when necessary.
- Stay healthy: get proper health care for existing or new health problems.
- Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises.
- Avoid dwelling on problems. If you can’t do this on your own, seek help from a qualified mental health professional who can guide you.
- Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, have suicidal thoughts, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.
Nothing in this article is new or earth shattering, but it is good to take the time to remind ourselves of what is important and how to achieve it. Besides, taking a break to read an article can be a great stress reliever!
If you found this helpful you might also like my article about Decluttering Your Business Data