Dial Down Your Stress

Here’s a conversation I have all too often with friends:

Me: “Great to see you! How is everything?”

Friend: “Crazy busy! I just don’t have any time.”

When I ask what is happening, the friends shares a few things but nothing that sounds “crazy busy.”

The friend asks me how I am, and I reply: “Great. Things are great.”

I tell this story not because I don’t have stress, because I do, but because when I was sharing how busy I was, how crazed I was, how much I was working, I found that I often exaggerated based on what others said. I’ve observed my friends doing it, too.

It’s as if we are in a competition to be the busiest, the craziest, the most sleep deprived.

For the past few years, I have worked really hard to dial down the stress. I routinely get my required sleep. I rarely work weekends, and I manage my work hours. Of course, there are times when work is a bit busier and I might have to work some extra hours, but it’s not routine.

When a friend tells me they are staying late regularly, I’ll ask why. Often the person doesn’t have a great explanation. It’s so easy to slip into bad habits, which is why I don’t want to get into a contest with my friends about who has the worst schedule.

Here are some tips to dial down the stress –

Don’t overcommit: Michael Hyatt, co-author of “Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want,” talks about triaging your calendar. I’ve learned that I need one evening during the work week in which I schedule no activities. It’s my night at home to be a slug. It’s usually Tuesday night when some of my favorite shows are on. I need an evening in which I am being entertained. I also know that I need one weekend a month to hibernate. That means no commitments (no matter how much fun), no traveling, no making long to-do lists. Instead, I enjoy the weekend as it unfolds, and I mainly sp20140727_180844end it in my home or yard and going for long walks or bike rides in the neighborhood.

Plan: A few years ago I realized that there are seven days in the week (five in the work week), which means I don’t have to do everything on Monday. I’ve learned to plan better and spread out deadlines. When I return to my office from a meeting, I schedule my action items on my calendar so they don’t get lost. In December, I plan my vacations for the coming year.

Reduce the drama: Be careful of the words you are using. Overemphasizing your situation is not helpful. One way to recognize all the good in your life is to keep a gratitude journal. Each evening I write down three to five things from the day for which I am grateful. Some days, it’s a struggle, but when I pause and reflect, I come up with the items, and I realize life is good.

How do you dial down the stress?

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2 thoughts on “Dial Down Your Stress

  1. Liz Bryant says:

    Wine. Seriously, I try to have a clear delineation between my work world and my personal world. There is always going to be work to do and I feel good about working hard, then going home at the end of the day and leaving that part of my life until the next day. That said, at times when there is stress in my personal life — when my father was ill and passed away, for example — I tried as much as I could to not focus on that in my work world. I firmly believe that there is value in having your personal life be a refuge from work stress and at times your work life being a refuge from your personal stress.

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