You’re busy and you have a gazillion things to do each day. Just thinking about your schedule can stress you out. Trust me I get it. The good news is that there are ways to be proactive about your stress and prevent perceived stress lurking around the corner.
Here are four ways to kick stress’ butt first thing in the morning:
Claim the first 30 minutes of your day.
No phone, emails, texts, calls, etc. Use this time to read, workout, walk the dog, journal, pray, think, meditate, drink your coffee in peace, etc. Start your day by feeling a sense of control and by prioritizing yourself first.
Hype yourself up!
You are a powerful, badass human being. You are accomplishing amazing things. Each day you rise to battle the evils of the world that try to stress you the hell out and test your patience. Start your day by reminding yourself of all the awesomeness you possess and prepare your mind to handle the moments that can make you question your abilities. Be your own biggest fan and supporter.
Take a moment to imagine that you’re in a coma. You have full brain activity, but you can’t open your eyes, speak or move. In this moment what do you wish you could do more than anything? Now spend a couple moments doing that; whether it be grounding yourself to remember you’re alive and able to touch, hold and kiss your significant other or children. Perhaps you want to tell your parents you love them, hug your dog, apologize to someone, or express appreciation for a co-worker. By taking a couple moments to do this, you’re reminding yourself of your true values in life. In a “coma” moment, you’re not stressing over a project, you’re focused on what matters the most to you.
Eat the frog first.
Look at your to-do list of tasks for the day and complete the task that you’re dreading the most first. This task probably has the most anticipated stress associated with it. By completing this task first, you will not give yourself the time or opportunity to stress over the stress you’re feeling from the task.
“Eat a live frog first thing every morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” –Mark Twain
Now it’s time to Heisman the afternoon stress headed your way:
Limit distractions while working.
Stress can occur from hopping around to various tasks, texts, emails or people asking you questions all day and not feeling like you’re getting anything done. Work in a set time increment (15-30 minutes) non-stop, with your phone on airplane mode and no email notifications. Then, if you must, take a quick break- scroll Instagram for a few minutes then set the timer again.
Get up and walk around.
Have you heard someone say that sitting is the new smoking? It certainly is not the recommended position for you to be in for 8+ hours a day. I once needed to finish an article I was writing and told myself that if I got distracted I would have to walk to the water cooler, fill up my bottle and drink 8 ounces of water EVERY TIME. Not only did this limit my A.D.D. tendencies, but it made me get up and walk around if I got distracted. You could also set up one-on-one or one-on-two meetings as a walk outside around the block (if the weather is nice). I try to get up and walk or stretch every 30 minutes.
“High-five” 5-minute recharge sessions.
Use this time to regroup yourself in the middle of the day. You deserve a high-five for all your work. Give yourself one with this mini break. During this time do not think about everything you need to do. Instead envision that you are plugging yourself up and recharging- just as you would for your phone. No interruptions allowed. Focus on your breathing, visualize yourself at your favorite vacation spot or doing something you enjoy, or just be still. You’re busy, but your brain is working for you non-stop. Give it a brief time to rest so it can be more effective for you the remainder of the day.
Live in the moment.
Don’t make assumptions and don’t take anything personally. Most stress occurs in the middle of the day. It is perceived stress of what could happen in the future or reliving something from past. Remind yourself to focus on the here and now.
Say “no” to crap you don’t want to do.
This can be tough, but it will greatly benefit you mentally and emotionally. If you say “yes” to something you really don’t want to do then you’re saying “no” to something you’d rather be doing. If you have a free evening and a friend asks you to go to a concert with them, but you’d rather be laid out on your couch, drinking wine and eating ice cream from the tub then do that! Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself.
Finally, closing out the day with karate chopping night-time stress:
Write out tasks for the next day.
Have a plan so you’re not stressing about forgetting something or worrying about everything you have to do. Write out your to-do list for one day at a time, prioritize the list and do the thing you dread the most FIRST.
Journal three things you’re grateful for from the day. This will force you to find the positive from even your roughest days. It will give you a better outlook and reduce stress in your life.
Eat a quality, balanced meal.
This may seem like commonsense, but I’ve worked with clients that their entire day is a blur by the time the sun goes down. Then they realize they only ate a handful of nuts and chewy bar they found at the bottom of their bag. Make sure you are getting AT LEAST one quality, balanced meal in. You’ve got to take care of yourself if you want to continue to perform to your highest ability. Eat your veggies.
Last 30 minutes of your day are for you!
No phone by your bed. Spend this time doing something you enjoy or spend it with loved ones. Watch something funny or read something relaxing. Calm down your mind and unwind.
When you’re stressed and pressed for time, whatever you do, do not sacrifice sleep to make up on time. Your mind will be blown with your level of productivity, alertness, and creative capacity when you continuously get 7-8 hours of sleep. With a good night’s sleep you will wake up refreshed and sharper to get tasks done quicker and more efficiently.
Remember that you are your greatest asset. If there is no you, then nothing else you do matters. Make time to care for yourself and your all-around health now or you’ll be finding time for illness later.
The most important thing to remember is that you are a mastermind and no matter what stress you’re feeling- everything is going to be okay. You will figure it out.
How stressed are you really? Take the complimentary stress assessment quiz