Reduce Stress

New Year Resolution #4:
Reduce Stress

8 Days of Resolutions

This series is all about the top New Year Resolutions. One of those is “Get Organized”. Have you ever made this resolution? How did it go? Did you do a “crash & burn” weekend on Jan. 2nd and everything was back to the way it was by Jan. 10th? Try using organization as a tool for whatever change you desire. You may surprise yourself!

What stresses you out?

What’s for dinner?  Wasn’t my best client’s birthday yesterday?  Did I have a meeting today?  What was the thing I wasn’t supposed to forget to do today?

How can you reduce stress?  Here’s three tips:

1. “Will this matter in 5 years?”

As a young newlywed, I had a great more “experienced” friend who helped me with some perspective on stress.  I admired her ability to remain cool under pressure (she had 5 grown children & several grandchildren who frequented her home and an aging parent living with her at the time).  When I asked her how she she seemed to keep a cool head when things got crazy, she replied, “I ask myself, ‘Will this matter in 5 years?’ ”  If the answer was “no” she didn’t worry to much about it.  Wise words, and they still ring in my ears today.

2. Structure isn’t a four letter word.

I recently heard a quote by T.S. Elliott:  “When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost–and will produce its richest ideas.  Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”

When I talk to people at my workshops or presentations, many of them are afraid of structure.  I get it, I really do.  I am not a very linear person, and I used to poo-poo the idea of structuring my day.

When I had my son, I learned that children need and crave structure.  Breakfast at 8am, nap at 10:30, lunch at 12:30, nap at 3:00, dinner at 6:30, bed at 8:00.  I learned that my son was happier, well adjusted and just plain more enjoyable to be around when we stuck to the schedule.  Now, of course we took side trips, went to special events and did other activities that called for flexibility in our schedule.  However, we soon eased back into the routine when things got back to normal.

I found when I structured my day, planned out tasks and arranged my calendar, it was easier to get the important things done.  I didn’t worry about what I needed to do, because I had already planned it out and had some flexibility when other matters came up.  I know when things start to slip and get out of control, it was time for a check-in to see what needs to improve.  Guess what?  When I stick (sometimes somewhat loosely) to a schedule, I’m a happier, well adjusted, less stressed and just plain more enjoyable to be around…  Go figure.

3. Find an outlet.

I love to read.  I love self-improvement books, but I also love period fiction (like Memoirs of a Geisha).  A friend asked me once, “Where do you find the time to read so much?”  I responded, “I make time.”  Reading is an escape, a chance for me to go into another world and watch a story unfold.  I wonder what the characters will do, say or experience next.  I think about what I would do in that situation and what I can learn and apply to my own life and mind.

24 hours might not seem like a lot, but it really is.  It’s amazing how much time I can fritter away without even thinking about it.  But, I always make time for things I like to do.  I believe it’s essential to reducing stress.  If we don’t give ourselves little pockets of time to do what we like, we’ll soon have nothing to give to others or our business.  Make time for an outlet of enjoyment, and see how you feel.

How are you going to reduce stress this year?


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