“No matter how much pressure you feel at work, if you could find ways to relax for at least five minutes every hour, you'd be more productive.” Dr. Joyce Brothers
This time of the year stress can be at an all time high. The holidays, while a great time to see family and friends, also brings with it the inevitable added burdens; shopping for gifts, decorating your home inside and out, and baking all those tasty treats. There are also the added pressures of keeping up with your professional obligations.
But no matter what time of year, Stress can wreck havoc on your health and sanity. The reality is that these “stressers” are not going to simply go away and they cannot be ignored. However, there are things you can do to do more than cope, but to actually thrive. My suggestion, “step back”!
Sometimes the importance of “downtime” is given a back seat. The fact is, we need to recognize that our mind, like our bodies, needs to rest and recharge in order to perform at its peak.
Stress can affect you both physically and mentally. It will decrease your ability to work productively and even reduce your satisfaction with your professional and personal life.
Some of the Biggest Effects of Stress Are:
- Your Ability to Focus – High Stress levels keep you from being able to identify what is truly important to accomplish over what can wait, or does not need to be done at all. Stress keeps you from prioritizing and using your energy in a way that will be most effective.
- Your Health – Your stress level can greatly relate to your physical and mental health. Lack of sleep and poor eating habits, all indicators of an unacceptable level of stress, both can contribute to an increased susceptibility to colds and headaches. In extreme cases it may even affect your mental health.
- Your Family and Social Life – High stress levels can greatly affect your ability to enjoy life or enjoy those around you. Your refrain of “when I am finished” or “after this deadline” will keep you from the truly important things in life.
So, the questions become, how can you change this pattern? How can you reduce the stress levels in your life while remaining productive? I believe the best way to achieve this is to actually make “downtime” part of your schedule!
We all have those never-ending “to do” lists or that jam-packed calendar of what we need to accomplish that day. My challenge to you (and myself) is to take a portion of that day and make the conscious decision to RELAX and RECHARGE!
The time to start is now! But how?
I think taking these small steps can help:
- Learn to Decompress - For many of us, the only way we will ever take the downtime we need to “step back” is to schedule it. It need not be an hour, or even a half hour, but a 10 to 15 minute window can make all the difference. Get up from your desk, stretch, talk a short walk (if you can do it outside all the better!), close your eyes and “chill” – whatever it takes! And if you can manage to work this in even twice a day, all the better!
- Learn to Prioritize – Decide what you really NEED to get done and put anything else on the back burner. Once you accomplish your important goals, your sense of accomplishment will greatly reduce that stress level!
- Learn to Delegate – You do not need to do everything yourself – I repeat, you do not need to do everything yourself! This, perhaps, is the hardest to achieve, but will yield some of the greatest results.
- Learn to Reconnect – We are “social animals”. We need to forge and keep relationships with those close to us. I recommend taking a little time each day to have a chat with a friend, read a book or watch a movie with your child, or just sit quietly with your “significant other”. The contentment and “closeness” you will feel can keep those “stressers” at bay.
Recognizing the effects of stress, and actively working to reduce that stress, I believe will make you both more productive and happier. The bottom line, we need to place less emphasis on achieving all our goals at once.
By taking the time to “step back”, I believe we can achieve a greater sense of accomplishment and productivity. I encourage all of us to give our minds a chance to become clearer and our bodies a chance to become healthier. Your body, mind, and soul, and those that love you, will thank you for it!