When it comes to stress, we modern humans do it like no other. Stress has become more of a factor in the last several decades when it comes to poor health, compromised sleep, and a diminished quality of life.
If you’re here, you’re no doubt looking for ways to help manage your stress. The good news is, like any problem, stress can be managed or even knocked out by integrating some simple productivity principles into your life. Being aware and following the practices listed here can make a huge difference in your stress levels.
Take time for yourself
You might be thinking, “How can I take a break when I need to be productive?” Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you’re running at maximum capacity, not only are you going to suffer but the quality of your work is going to suffer too.
Stress is counterproductive to productivity. It can breed feelings of anxiety, resentment, and overwhelm, which not only affects your work but other parts of your life as well. You wouldn’t ask another person to drive themselves beyond reasonable limits trying to take on the world, would you? Everyone needs a break, and that includes you. Make use of downtime to manage your stress and appreciate things more.
Learn to effectively work / focus in the moment
From a productivity perspective, multi-tasking is an overrated concept — one that causes many people to botch their attempts to be more productive. We think we’ll get more done by doing more things at once, but the result is often feeling overwhelmed and actually tripling your stress instead of alleviating it.
Instead of trying to multi-task, learn to work and focus in the moment. Set aside specific blocks of time for projects and you’ll be able to give your best to each one. If a task seems too big to tackle, you can always break up the work into smaller, more manageable chunks. Tackling them in bite-sized chunks makes the entire task – as well as each smaller piece – feel much easier. So, focus on one thing at a time and let those shoulders relax.
We’re often our own worst enemies when it comes to the stress in our lives. And one of the biggest culprits is often failure to communicate. Misunderstandings can occur when you don’t let people know you’re feeling stressed and overloaded. The expectations or deadlines imposed by others can make tasks you would normally handle easily seem insurmountable. But they can’t possibly know what you’re dealing with if you don’t tell them.
Make sure you take the time to communicate with involved parties. Make sure everyone has realistic expectations and knows the situation from your perspective. Letting others know what’s going on can go a long way toward easing some of the stress. The bonus… you’ll strengthen relationships and build camaraderie in the process.
Get a feel for your triggers
Triggers are those little things that turn mole-hills into mountains. When stress is present in your life, even things like the kids leaving their toys on the couch or having too many appointments and not enough time to catch up on projects can send you spiraling into negative energy.
Everyone has their own personal things that trigger anxiety, stress, and pessimism, and generally make them feel like crawling back into bed for the day. Instead of allowing triggers sneak up on you, learn to identify them. Knowing what will set you off will allow you a better handle on the situation. Awareness makes triggers an opportunity for communication, which will make your stress much more manageable.
Let go of the reins
There may be some things you need to let go of – either by delegating or admitting that certain things just aren’t that important in the big picture. Letting go can seem like a nightmare for many people, but it’s sometimes the best thing you can do. The truth is, there are things that are beyond our control or that simply aren’t as important as we’ve made them out to be.
A lack of control or the belief that we have to “do it all” contributes to feelings of high stress for countless people, especially those who struggle with perfectionism, anxiety, or other issues. We think that constantly having control means safety. And we mistakenly believe being the one who can do it all is the ultimate goal. Even if those things were possible, the amount of energy spent trying to orchestrate every minute detail is energy you could use for more productive or enjoyable things.
Letting go of the reins of what you can’t control — and what isn’t realistic — is that final step to managing stress. Granted, it’s a big one, but it’s one that all of us who have the desire to work productively have to take at some point in order to restore sanity. The best thing you can do is to do your best and let go of the rest.
Stress has become the unintended consequence of the technology and “busy-ness” in our lives. But it can be managed. You don’t need to lose any more sleep, focus or time to stress.
So, take some time to consider how you can incorporate these strategies into your life. And don’t forget to celebrate your successes as you keep moving forward!