Posted on March 23, 2018 by Jenny Cromack
Stress Management: A “Real World” Perspective
In recent weeks I published a blog article on the whats, whys, and hows of stress which drew on some of the psychology of stress and the management of stress. What I wanted to do with the current article was to offer a little more of a “real world” perspective into stress management and offer insight into my newly adopted way of thinking with my top 5 stress management tips.
Like most of you I perceive myself to be very busy. I work for motive8 as a Personal Trainer, I lecture at Leeds Beckett University, I am nearing completion of my PhD (after 3 long years) and I run my own therapy business. These are just my occupational commitments, I also need to find time to plan my wedding, prepare for a new-born, exercise and play sport, and fit social time into all of this. This is a lot of things to juggle and perform well at so more often than not things can become a little overwhelming and you may near “breakdown” and this is not good.
What I offer in this brief article about stress management are the anecdotal tools I have picked up in hope that they may offer some of you some reprieve from stress!
So, here goes my top 5 stress management tips from a real world perspective!
1) Learn to Say No!
My prior self was a bit of a “yes man” and I would take on things without thinking all trying to please and impress. If I have learned anything as I have got a little older is that it is ok to say no. I spent too long of my life putting everything before myself, this is not healthy! Alongside learning to say no I developed a lot of “skills”, attitudes, and outlooks that helped me become less stressed, minimise burnout and prevent any breakdowns. By doing this I found my “pile” of potential bombs of stress that could go off was minimised. I always now make sure that I do not take on more than I know I can manage.
To do this you obviously need to experience the stress of having too much, but take note in these situations they are learning curves. Find your happy medium and do not exceed this.
2) Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail!
Since starting my PhD I have learned to properly prioritise my tasks and demands. Throughout the week when tasks arise or demands are put on me I will make a list in a spreadsheet under associated headings (e.g., Therapy Work, PT, or PhD). Then on a Sunday I will sit down and anything that hasn’t been ticked off I move around and prioritise based on deadlines, importance, or time needed to complete.
Once put in an order I will then assign these times within my week. I am very anal and have a spreadsheet that breaks my week down into half hour chunks 06:00 to 21:00. This allows me to visually see where I have time where I can fit things in. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees and don’t see free time because our heads are full of everything else we have on. This has made me more efficient as I now know when I sit down at a certain time I know exactly what I am doing and do not waste time thinking about what I should do next.
3) Be Like Dr Pepper – Whats the Worst that Could Happen?
This tip ties in with the previous. To help me prioritise or make the decision to not do something I ask myself one question; What is the worst that could happen if I don’t do this or it is done late? If there is a genuine threat or risk to not doing it then prioritise this. If it is a small telling off or you may lose a bit of face then is it really worth stressing over when you have more important things going on?
4) It’s Good to Talk!
It is often a default to battle stress and worry on our own, but it is very healthy and helpful to talk and share your concerns. Not only does it allow you to vent, but it also sometimes makes us realise actually you know what I am stressing over nothing here. It can put things in perspective.
Additionally, you may be surprised to hear that sometimes bosses, friends, and family have been/are going through the same, or are actually quite receptive to help. My experience with bosses when I have had a lot on and feeling the pressure who have been great and understood what I am going through and are quite open to adjusting and monitoring your workload/commitments. Nobody can help if they don’t know so talk about it. This also helps let other people know that it is probably not a good time to give you more work or demand more of your time.
5) Be Aware of What is Important to You!
This final tip may be very subjective, but it is important to understand which realms of life are important to you. For me money, accolades, and success are not as important as family, friends, and my own sanity. So when it comes to the crunch I have learned to respect this and make sure that my time with family and friends are not sacrificed.
Ultimately the things that are important to you are often the things that bring you most joy, happiness, and relief, so why would you choose to do something that often gives you the opposite? By investing more time in these important factors it will often make us more productive in the other realms such as work and education. This combination of getting more joy, and being more productive can in itself lower our stress and create a positive outlook.
I hope this article about my top 5 stress management tips offers some reflection and benefit to you.