The first and most important step is admitting to ourselves when we are stressed, hopefully last week’s exercises will have helped you to see more easily whether you are stressed. Admitting we are stressed can often be difficult in our society which promotes a busy lifestyle. How many programmes on TV have you seen featuring ‘essential’ festive events and activities we simply cannot, and should not, miss? When being busy is the norm, admitting we are stressed can seem like announcing we cannot cope with the demands of daily life, but this is not entirely the case. Usually those of us that suffer from stress have chosen to take on what others would not and, consequently, have been burdened with demands that are unmanageable given the resources available to us.
Once we have recognised we are stressed we are immediately at an advantage because we can take action. When combating stress the main aim of taking action is to decrease our demands whilst increasing our resources. Decreasing demands involves assessing the urgency of the demands we face, reprioritising them accordingly and possibly even delegating some to others. For example, if the source of my stress is feeling overwhelmed by my work email and the many urgent projects I’m working on, I could set aside one hour in the morning to respond to my backlog of emails (or ask my secretary to filter them). I could then prioritise my workload according to deadlines, the time needed to fulfil each project and cut my remaining workload by enlisting the relevant colleagues to assist where possible. If we find we are still struggling to say no to others requests and are taking on more demands than we know to be manageable, we might have an underlying assertiveness issue. If you battle to say no and feel depleted as a result, please read June’s series ‘Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say no’.
Once we have decreased our demands we can focus on increasing our resources. Join me next week as we explore how we can increase our resources and reduce stress for good!
Which demands could you reduce? How would you reduce them? Do you think you need to say no to people more often? (If so read Junes series on saying no) Please comment and share your experiences with our community to gain insight, encouragement and support.
‘GUIDED mindfulness meditation CD series’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn, available on Amazon
‘Manage Your Stress for a Happier Life’ by Looker, Terry, Gregson, Olga, available on Amazon