You’re stressed. I get it. Me too. And that means you want to scroll down to the 7 Practical Strategies for Reducing your Stress instead of reading all of the “blah, blah, blah” that comes before the part you really care about.
But thankfully, I’m not a fan of the “blah, blah” either, so I’ll save you some scroll time.
Here’s the gist:
These strategies work for me.
I hope they work for you too.
- Block your schedule. Like, right now. Go into your calendar and block your Friday’s from 8am to 5pm. In the title line type, “HOLD”. Consider this time, sacred. You are now the only person who is allowed to enter a meeting, presentation, or event on a Friday and I urge you to do so sparingly. Use this time to get caught up on projects, answer emails, follow up on items that fell apart during the week. You’ll be amazed at how productive you feel going into the weekend and how good it feels to have control of at least one day in the week.
BONUS 1a.) Block some vacation days while you’re at it! It doesn’t matter what day it is, simply block a few random days during the year that you may want to be out of the office. Chances are high that you’ll forget you took these days off and will be pleasantly surprised when you see them on your calendar.
- Complete the task. I have a spot at the top of my stairs where ‘stuff’ piles.
Right now there are:
- Two cans of sunscreen
- One can of bug spray (both to be sent to daycare)
- One box to bring to the Post Office
- Four Mother’s Day cards to mail
- One hammer
- One can of wood stain and a rag
- And my son’s friend’s Pokeball that he left at our house on Saturday
What do all of these items have in common? They are all things I “have to do”. Their temporary home at the top of our stairs has become a visual reminder of my life’s chaos and I, like you, do not need to be reminded.
You know what would help? If I simply completed the task.
- Bring the hammer, can of wood stain, and rag to the garage and put them away. Right now. Literally.
- Put the Pokeball, box to mail, Mother’s Day cards, sunscreen, and bug spray in the front seat of my car so the next time I’m out, I can drop them off wherever they need to go.
- Better yet – get in the car right now and take care of it.
By intentionally completing each task during your day, you are saving yourself from further emotional overload that is created by starting, pausing, and delaying follow through. These thoughts (and items) build up over time and can wreak havoc on your stress levels.
- Turn your email notifications OFF. Both the tempting little image that shows the first few words of the email message and that annoying noise that happens when something hits your Inbox. Both are unnecessary. I promise, you’re not going to forget to check your email, just because you weren’t reminded to do so. The only thing that those notifications are doing is keeping you from devoting your attention to the task at hand.
- Do one small, but happy thing. One day I drove to Arby’s at 7:30pm for the sole purpose of buying a small curly fry. The following day I bought two of the same cup from Target because I knew I would love drinking out of it. A few days later I decided to forgo an optional meeting and, instead, sit in an Adirondack chair in the sun on campus. Every single day I give in to at least one thing that is going to make me happy. It’s never big, it often sneaks up on me, and it never fails.
- Buy a magnesium stick. I just Googled “magnesium stick” to link to the product I am talking about and apparently “magnesium sticks” are used to start a fire? Not exactly where I was going with this. Let’s try again: Jordan Essentials MagnesiumPlus Stick. This thing is the bee’s knees. Not only does it smell fantastic (Magnesium, Frankincense, Basil, Peppermint and soothing Lavender), but you simply rub it on any part of your body that feels achy and within 20 minutes you’re like a new model.
- Delay reply. Ideally, this means that you will stop checking your email after 5pm and give yourself some serious distance until the following morning. Realistically, this means delaying your response until a more reasonable time. If you have to write the email, write the email. But consider using the “delay reply” feature to keep responses from coming your way during times when you should be enjoying your family or free time. This also helps level-set expectations for other staff who may be following your lead and feel unnecessarily responsible for replying at all times of the day and night.
- I’m not going to write a number 7. Why? Because, as a good friend says, “It just doesn’t matter”. Like many of the seemingly-earth-shattering-items on your calendar, in your Inbox, on your to-do list, none of it matters more than your mental health. Right now, especially, we need to keep things in perspective and lean into the things that keep us going strong.
Take a sick day. Take a walk. Take a breath.
You are not alone.