Stress has been linked to just about every other type of ailment from cardiovascular disease to depression. When stress can’t be avoided, which is often the case, it needs to be managed. Reducing stress levels is a possibility even in the most chaotic of jobs or life situations. If you have a crazy schedule, start by considering the contributing factors to the situation that can be managed. However, not all stressors are so obvious.
It might seem like there’s no way to avoid or minimise the stress in your life, but that isn’t true—but it will take creativity and advocating for yourself. Asking for help and voicing your concerns are musts. There are people in your life happy to help, but they need to know the situation first. Here are six ways of reducing your stress levels while navigating a busy schedule:
1. Talk to your boss or clients to work out alternatives.
Your boss might be open to a flex schedule, which can allow you more control over your hours. Something as simple as adjusting your day by a few hours might allow you to take the kids to school without cutting it too close or make it to soccer games more often. Just because flex-options aren’t an overt perk at your job doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Another option might be telecommuting at least part-time. If you work for yourself, setting clearer boundaries with clients, dropping contracts that don’t pay enough for their stress or learning to say no can be invaluable for stress management.
2. Get up earlier.
This isn’t possible for everyone, but many early birds report that they’re most productive in the early hours. It’s quiet, others in the house aren’t up, and emails are generally slow since the rest of the world is sleeping. If you do try this, make sure to keep sleep hygiene a priority. This will include going to bed earlier and likely bettering your sleep hygiene practices.
3. Take frequent breaks.
Ideally, you’ll walk away from work every 20 minutes and at least once an hour. Don’t look at a screen and get some fresh air if you can. These five-minute breaks allow you to recharge and gain some perspective.
4. Make time for daily reflection or meditation.
This doesn’t need to take up a large chunk of your time. Meditation for three to five minutes at the start and/or end of your day can realign your overall well-being. Take some time to breathe, clear your mind, and focus on being present. It’s continually being proven that mindfulness and meditation are incredible ways to help you take a quick break for massive reward.
5. Change “I have to” to “I get to.”
When you “have” to do everything, it’s stressful! Instead, practice gratitude and think “I get to.” When you get to go to work, to the dentist, or to happy hour, suddenly it’s a lot less stressful.
6. Pinpoint what you can do without.
Do you really have to do everything on your schedule? Could you cancel that meeting or change an appointment to an email check-in? Do you actually still enjoy that step class or should you take a stroll through the neighbourhood instead of some cardio? We are creatures of habit, but sometimes habits should be broken.
Our stress levels continue to increase as we try to perfect multi-tasking and jam more into our schedules. But to what end? Focusing on doing less and slowing down can have incredible health benefits. It’s time to stop glorifying stress and decrease its presence in our lives. Our entire well-being is at stake, and in the end, our health is our greatest wealth.