More Than Resolutions: Reduce Your Stress

31 Days of Organizing for a Better 2010: Reduce Your Stress

Join us all month for 31 Days of Organizing for a Better 2010!

Stress can take a toll on us physically, emotionally and mentally, undermining all of our other goals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, become a more intentional parent, pay off debt or find a new job, stress will make it harder for you to keep your resolution.

  • Physical signs of stress include insomnia, weight gain and neck and back pain.
  • Emotional signs include being weepy, impatient or frustrated at everything and everyone.
  • Mental signs include decreased productivity, an inability to focus and mental roadblocks that keep you from finishing projects and tasks.

No matter what your 2010 resolutions and goals are, it’s important to control your stress in order to live up to your potential. Ron from The Wisdom Journal is sharing how the five 5s can help you deal with stress (a strategy I hadn’t heard before!), and I’m sharing five tips below as well:

1. Pare back your commitments.

This isn’t new advice, but now is as good a time as any to take a look at your commitments and obligations and make some tough choices. Take a realistic look at everything on your plate and  prioritize those that are most important to you. As hard as it may be, you have to say no to “good” things in order to have time for the “best”.

I would encourage you to consider relaxation a priority as well, leaving time for reading, hanging out with your family and friends or doing something you love. I’m not big on everyday “me time,” which I think can lead to frustration and selfishness if it is placed on a pedestal, but making time for the things you love (and making a decision to love the things you do…) will make coping with stressful times easier.

As a side note, so many times we end up overworked or stressed out because we’re trying to achieve our personal goals while still meeting everyone else’s expectations for our life. This could be volunteering at church or in the community, keeping up with social obligations or trying to be the “perfect” mother. Take a few minutes to think about areas where you’re letting other people’s expectations contribute to your stress.

2. Make sleep, healthy food and exercise a priority.

Health and stress are a double-edged sword. I know I’m not the only person who tends to eat more — and not make the best choices about what I’m eating — when I’m stressed and tired, but eating the wrong food contributes to being tired and stressed, and the cycle continues.

It can be hard to break out of the cycle, but prioritize sleep, healthy meals and snacks and exercise in order to be more productive physically and mentally. Staying healthy will also help you see things more clearly rather than being paralyzed by the stress.

3. Let go of perfectionism.

Nobody is perfect, and trying to live up to an impossible standard is a quick way to end up stressed out and overwhelmed. Yes, it’s important to do your best, but take a critical look at the difference between doing your best and being perfect, and lower your standards to a realistic level.

Few people have the time to clean all day every day, and having a spotless home is just not feasible for families with small children. I’m not trying to imply that you should throw all standards out the window and live in a pig sty. I like a clean home and function better that way, but I don’t have time to scrub the baseboards, vacuum under the couch or clean the windows as much as I might like to, and I’ve had to learn to be okay with that in the meantime.

That is just one example, but perfectionism can affect every area of our lives, adding unnecessary stress and keeping us from accomplishing our goals.

4. Do a brain dump.

When you’re brain is full of everything you’re trying to remember and accomplish, it leaves little room for actually doing anything. Rather than trying to keep track of everything in your mind, do a “brain dump” to get it all onto paper. Once it’s out of your head and written down, you can organized and prioritize it into a to-do list, but the main purpose is simply to get it out of your mind so that you can focus on your tasks instead.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, keep paper and pen by your bed to write down anything you think of as you’re heading to bed rather than trying to remember it until morning.

5. Make a list of  de-stressing activities.

Just as important as avoiding stress in the first place is knowing what things will help you de-stress when you find yourself overwhelmed. These will look different for different people, but your list might include taking a walk, reading a book or cuddling up to watch a movie with your family.  Or it might include watching the sunset, grabbing coffee with a girlfriend or just sitting outside and breathing the fresh air. Write down all of your ideas for dealing with stress and keep the list somewhere you can easily find it when you start to get stressed.

What effects of stress do you see in your own life? How do you cope with it?  How do you prevent it?

The 31 Days of Organizing for a Better 2010 series is sponsored by Get Organized Wizard. Find ideas, prompts and suggestions to motivate you to change in the Life & Goal Organizer.