At some or other point in time, we've all experienced mental, physical, and/or emotional strain in a tough situation. We've all felt STRESSED.
But what, exactly, is stress? How does stress work, and how does it affect our bodies? And most importantly, how the do we manage stress so that we can handle our everyday To-Do Lists without burning out and working ourselves to exhaustion??
Let's break it down!
Stress is a feeling that's created when we react to specific events - the body's way of preparing to face a challenge with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness. 💪👨🚒🕵️♀️
Events that cause us to feel stress (stressors) can vary from actual physical danger, to things like testing for your driver's license, to other things like presenting a speech to a large audience. There's a huge variety of situations that can activate the nervous system, but guess what? Not all instances that energize the nerves are negative!
Not All Stress is Bad!
"Good stress" - aka the fight or flight response - is super-important in emergencies (like slamming on your brakes to avoid a car crash), or for things like performing a heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled workout. These kinds of instances don't usually have any detrimental long-term effects, because they're short-lived and because the nervous system stops pumping out extra stress hormones once that event is over and done with.
So a certain amount of short-lived stress can be a good thing, but long-term stressful situations - things like being bullied at school or work, going through intense relationship stress, or an over-packed work schedule - cause persistent strain that means extra stress hormones are consistently produced and lead to stress overload - which isn't good for ANYONE! Stress overload can overwhelm our body's ability to cope, and sometimes we need to give special attention and care to reducing that stress overload and decreasing our anxiety levels so that we can reset and cope with everything we need to do in our daily lives. Burning the candle at both ends can only last for so long!
One area that leads a lot of us to experience chronic stress is ineffective time management; so many things to do, so little time to do them! Learning and developing effective time management skills helps us to make the most of the hours we have available every day, and this is one of the best ways to lower stress levels! (#winning 😁🙌) But for a lot of people who struggle with time management, the difficulty often lies in having to say "No" to some people/opportunities etc. Wanting to help other people out definitely isn't a bad thing, but trying to help out everyone, with everything, can leave us feeling pressed for time, stressed out, and overwhelmed.
Effective Time Management requires BALANCE, and
balance doesn't mean doing EVERYTHING.
Balance means prioritizing your activities based on your values.
Ask yourself, "What do I value most? What areas of my life are most important to me?" Once you've established your priorities, replace any 'time-wasters' you've spotted with productive, meaningful activities that align with your highest priorities.
How Can I Manage My Time More Effectively?
The first step you should take towards making better use of your time is identify your values and set goals; the second step is to develop mechanisms that help you manage your time effectively.
Once you're devoting your energy to your top priorities, you can modify and adapt the ways you approach those priorities to be as efficient as possible! 😎 Simply put:
First, do the right things; then, do those things right.
1. Be realistic about how long a task will take, and give yourself extra time to avoid a stressful time crunch.
2. Plan out your daily activities, and remember to include flexibility by leaving time between appointments. Don't set yourself up for unnecessary stress by scheduling back-to-back meetings - especially if there might be heavy traffic!
3. Use "To-Do" lists and take care of the most important tasks first. (Tip: Wunderlist is an absolutely phenomenal app that I use for my various To-Do Lists - I highly recommend it! 👍)
4. Assign tasks to others - you don't have to do everything yourself!
5. Develop effective organisational skills, like using well-structured spreadsheets or filing systems. Honestly, if you're well-organized you can save yourself a lot of time! 🎉😁
6. Get your things ready the night before. Pack your briefcase and/or gym bag, prep your breakfast and lunch, and lay out your clothes to save time in the morning. That way, you can start your day on a relaxed note: with quiet time and coffee! ☕😍
7. Focus completely on one task at a time, instead of trying to multi-task. Spreading ourselves between a bunch of different things can lead us to forget about certain things we need to complete, or mean our minds aren't 100% focused on the task at hand.
8. Don't "interrupt" yourself by checking Facebook/Reddit every few minutes. Work with total focus, then relax with total "relaxed-ness"! 😜
Lovely people, TRUST ME: practicing and developing these 8 Time Management skills will be seriously helpful in reducing your stress levels, and in making sure that your highest priorities get taken care of every day!
Do you have any go-to ways that help you manage your stress levels?
What about ways that help you manage your time?
What would you say are your top priorities?