De-Stress -- Even When Your Life Is Full of Stress!
The kids are in class, after-school activities abound, and you've become an unglorified taxi-driver, homework helper, main liaison to the school, chief cook, and bottle washer -- and that's just for starters. Let's not forget about your other obligations, such as a job, garden club, or political activism. Yikes! Before you start grasping for a lifeline, take these steps to de-stress your life.
When panic sets in and you wonder how you will ever accomplish everything you need to do, take a moment for yourself. Sit down. Breathe deeply. Sip tea, hot chocolate, or even coffee. (You'll sit longer if it's hot.) Enjoy a moment of calm. Then begin to focus on what you need to accomplish.
Try a list
Even if lists make you crazy, write down everything you need to do. This will help you get everything out in the open and give you a place to start. If you're a notorious list-maker, try organizing your list by category. Finally, as you accomplish your goals, cross things off your list.
Re-evaluate your priorities
Once you've got your list, look at all you need to do and put things in perspective. Some tasks require immediate attention, while others can sit on the back burner. Highlight your top priorities and focus on them. Schedule the other things for a later date. By prioritizing your tasks, you'll be able to target your energies in the right direction.
Eat healthy food
Eating junk food contributes to stress. Your body doesn't function at peak performance when it's overloaded with chips, soda, and cookies. Try a turkey sandwich instead of a hamburger. Drink lots of water and eat some fruit instead of munching on cookies. Fuel your body with good food, and your mind will do wonderful things for you.
Too often we think we must complete a project from start to finish in one sitting. A better approach is to tackle big jobs in small steps. You can space them out over days, a week, or even a month, depending on how much time you have. When starting out, some people do the hard tasks first and get them out of the way. Others start with something they enjoy, and then they are ready to take on the tasks they dislike. Either way works. Just be sure you get started!
Share your stress with a friend
Find someone to talk to about all that you have going on in your life. Vent when things become overwhelming, but share your accomplishments as well. Once you've completed a big task, check in with your friend and report on how you're doing. Don't forget to listen to what your friend has been doing as well. It helps to know you're not alone!
Even if you aren't a distance runner, your body will benefit from a brisk walk, time on the treadmill, or a rollerblade around the neighborhood. Physical exercise will raise your endorphin level, help you focus more effectively, and make you accomplish more in the long run.
Don't try to schedule too much in a day
One of the most discouraging realizations is to end the day and still have a long list of unaccomplished chores. To avoid this, take a realistic look at the time you have available in a day, the time each task takes, and schedule accordingly. If you have a lot of meetings or commitments one day, you simply aren't going to have as much - or any - time to do other things. If you just aren't going to be able to get to a particular task on one day, move it forward to a day that's less busy.
Source: Adapted from "De-Stress - Even When Your Life Is Full of Stress" published by the Council for Exceptional Children in CEC Today, September 2000.
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