Have you ever felt stretched and stressed? Of course you have, as we all experience these responses in our life. Fortunately, we have some control over the feeling of being stretched…and thankfully we have TOTAL control over feeling stressed.
Can we totally control stress?
I know it may not seem like we can control stress, but we can. Stress can come and go in moments or it can feel more constant. Every day we have a list of goals to accomplish as well as a list of non negotiable personal tasks and commitments. I wrote this article to help you reduce that feeling of stress and anxiety with all of our competing priorities. Whether you are a senior executive or manager, a soccer coach, an entrepreneur, a mom, a dad, or a student, we all have competing priorities and a seemingly endless to do list.
So how do we do get it all done?
I'm a real work-hard, play-hard believer. The challenge is that I'm also an all-or-nothing kind of guy. Because of this natural tendency, there have been times when I get into work mode and I'm head down with blinders on. Whether it's in my business or at my house, I can find myself so deep into what I am accomplishing that someone has to come and pull me out. In these episodes I won't eat, and I ignore my own needs and the needs of those around me. And transversely on the play side, I'm all or nothing as well. If I'm travelling, biking, snowboarding or just out for a weekend with friends, I completely forget about work. Forgetting about work is actually a wonderful thing, unless it goes on too long and there are goals and objectives that aren't being met that I've committed to.
Expectations minus reality creates stress.
A friend has shared with me that "expectations minus reality creates stress." It’s normal to have this expectation that I should be able to do it all, I should be able to get my work done and on time. I should be able to get to work early. I should be able to get the kids' hair all nicely done and their lunches made and meet the bus on time. I should be able to do my yoga and meditation in the morning. I should be able to have my family time and my spouse time in the evening. I should be able to get to bed early and read a book and listen to a podcast. The list goes on and on.
We set ourselves up for failure. We set ourselves up for stress. And it doesn't work. Rather, we become less productive and emotionally exhausted.
As I said, all-or-nothing is my natural way and tendency. Of course, over the years I’ve learned that this way of being can create stress for myself and those around me. This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about healthy conversations and the practices I have been able to use, to shift my automatic way of being from stressful to calm.
3 Steps to Manage feeling Stretched and Stressed
Step 1 is to Commit.
Know what you are committing to and take the time to fully choose. Choose that thing that you are going to do right now. I've just put out a tool that's shared on our website theleadershipgroup.ca called the Minute Minder. This tools helps you track how you use your time. If you're like me, you tend to jump around. You get a text or a new email on your phone and you jump to it. In order to reduce stress, you need to focus your time and attention. When you choose and commit to what you're doing, the stress of the entire to-do list starts to melt away. If you’re choosing play, be fully there. If you’re choosing work, be fully there. If you’re choosing family, be fully there. If you’re choosing self-care, be fully there. In choosing, know that there is a compromise that you may be making in that moment, but realize that you're going to get to the other stuff. You're not compromising on your values, rather you are being present to what you are choosing to do in the moment
Step 2 is Budgeting Your Time.
Budgeting time allows you to fully focus on the task you chose to do and are committed to accomplishing. You can set the other tasks aside knowing that you have budgeted time for them as well. For example, when I have a large task or project, I will budget 2 hours a day over the next 5 days. That gives me the freedom to walk away and choose other tasks after my 2 hours are up, knowing that I have budgeted more time for it and I will be back to it. It also allows me the satisfaction of making steps every day in an otherwise daunting task.
Step 3 is to Stop Should'ing Yourself.
Let go of the feelings of guilt or shame; the thoughts of ‘I should be doing something other than what I am fully in right now.’ If you've committed to an activity it means you've chosen to be there. As we said in Step 1, be fully there. Let go of the guilt. Be mindful for a moment and ask yourself how feeling guilty is serving you. You'll recognize quickly that it's not serving you and all, and gift yourself a mindful moment to breathe and let it go. Be present with what you're doing, knowing that you are going to be hyper-vigilant and focused on what you want to be doing next when the time comes.
I've come up with a saying for myself that I want to share with you. It’s "Work harder than you want to when you have to, and play harder than you have to when you want to."
Go out there and do it! Live in the moment and get the sh*t done that you need to do, and tell me about it. Comment here, give me feedback on Facebook, reach out to us by email. I'd love to hear your story how you're applying these steps and any challenges you have. Always happy to have a free coaching call and just help you think through some of the tools to help you be more successful and experience more joy in your life.