Now that you have a better understanding of what stress is, and how it effects you, lets explore how to reduce it.
REDUCE YOUR STRESS
When we have an understanding of what our stress looks like and what is causing it, there are tools we can use to reduce our stress load.
Delegate – what do you HAVE to do? What could others do? Can you delegate some work, tasks or chores to someone else? Can you outsource anything? For example:
Can you ask someone to help with the household cleaning?
Can you ask someone to take on a specific piece of work?
Manage expectations – both yours and others. Set reasonable targets or actions for your day. For example:
Don’t write yourself the longest to-do list each day which never ends. Pick three key to-do’s for the day. Do those three things first. Once completed you’ve already had a successful day. Anything else you get done that day is a bonus.
Let your manager know that you can take on the extra project, however that means something else will need to be let-go or delayed.
No is a decision, yes is a responsibility
Learn to say ‘no’ – saying no is hard. We naturally want to help and please people. We often give an automated yes even before we have had chance to think. However, constantly saying yes to work or commitments takes up time and adds to stress. Remember; every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you are saying ‘no’ to everything else you want to do. No is a decision, yes is a responsibility. Have some prepared statements, for example:
Pause for three seconds and then deliver your response. Refrain from an automated ‘yes’.
‘Let me check my calendar and get back to you’.
‘I would want to do a great job, but given my other commitments I wouldn’t be able to give it my best’.
‘I am afraid I can’t do it, but…’ give a suggestion of an alternative solution.
Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you are saying ‘no’ to everything else you would like to do
Resolve issues sooner – it’s human nature to avoid unpleasant topics and circumstances. If you're concerned about a brewing situation, whether it's at work or at home, addressing it early prevents it becoming more serious, harder to solve and more stressful for you. An ongoing problem is time and mind consuming. Dealing with a problem early removes the problem – it no longer consumes your time or your mind.
When a problem comes up give yourself a deadline of when to resolve it by.
If you need to make a decision about something, again set a deadline.
Dealing with a problem early removes the problem
Set boundaries – set limits around what you are and are not willing to do. What behaviours you will and won’t accept. What time commitments you’ll make – to others and most importantly to yourself. People (and you) will learn your boundaries and know not to encroach them. This helps with managing expectations too. For example:
Not checking emails out of hours or at the weekend. Colleagues will know and won’t expect a response until the following day or week.
Keeping a specific time in your day for some exercise. You, and others will know this is the time you have committed to get some activity, and won’t have expectations of you during this time.
Stay tuned for Part Three - 'Manage Your Stress'