I recently received this e-mail message about stress management (author unknown)?
A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it."
"If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. "In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."
He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on." "As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."
What burden can you put down to help you reduce stress? Notice that I did not ask if you had stress. I assume you do. The question is, what are you doing to manage or reduce it?
I'll bet that you can identify something generating stress in your life right now that you've been carrying for a while ... something that was probably stressing you a month ago, or even a year ago. So what are you prepared to do about it? Here are five tips to help you reduce stress.
1. Identify what is burdening you right now. What do you hate about your life? What are you tolerating? By stating what you hate or are putting up with in your present circumstances, you can then identify what you want. As you answer this question, consider each of the categories mentioned below. Make a thorough list and be specific. This list is for your eyes only, so spill onto paper whatever you hate about your present circumstances, without trying to sugar-coat how you are feeling. Here are some examples:
* Relationships: I hate feeling like I always have to be right. I hate how my son never wants to spend time with me.
* Health & Wellness: I hate being 20 pounds overweight. I hate getting so out-of-breath when I take the stairs. I hate that I am so stressed that I cannot fall asleep at night.
* Financial Health: I hate how I always defer my tax returns because I am so disorganized with my financial records. I hate how many tax deductions I forfeit because of my lousy record-keeping practices.
* Environment: I hate how my office is cluttered with piles of paper. I hate that I waste so much time looking for things. I hate how much money I waste because I have to buy something I have but cannot find. I hate that I cannot park my car in the garage because of all the junk stored in there.
* Work: I hate regularly working past 5 PM and on the weekends.
2. Deal with unresolved issues. Is there something in your past that you have not dealt with ? psychological barriers, untreated disorders, unfinished business from your childhood, unresolved relationships, addictions, or depression? If so, seek professional assistance to clear a path for a new beginning. Without first dealing with these obstacles, you may sabotage your efforts or find major resistance to making the changes you desire.
3. De-clutter and create order. Creating order in your home and work environment may help you to gain clarity as you explore the horizon of some new directions in other areas of your life. Here's my definition of clutter: Anything you own, possess, or do that does not enhance your life on a regular basis. It's hard to make room for something new amidst all the clutter ... whether that clutter exists in your physical environment, on your calendar, or in your head.
4. Move from complaints to solutions. Look at your list of things you hate (above), and design a vision around what you want and choose for the future. Create a chart that includes the complaints, solutions to achieve your vision, and projected dates of completion.
Tried everything and still cannot find a solution? Ask someone else to help you brainstorm a solution, or make peace with it and quit thinking of it as a problem.
Eliminate excuses that are undermining your vision. For example, if you feel like you have to work late, examine the excuses that are undermining your desire to leave the office by 5 PM. Are you staying late to catch up with e-mail or to meet deadlines? How can you eliminate the excuse? Build in time to handle those activities during regular work hours.
Commit time to take positive action. Carve out protected time for working on an important project that would otherwise not get done until the 11th hour (after hours or on the weekend). For large projects, break them into smaller "bite-sized" projects.
5. Get support as you change behaviors. In order to create new behaviors which will get and keep you at the enhanced level at which you wish to function, you may need support. An accountability partner or personal coach can help you:
* Reflect back what you say you want so you can hear yourself.
* Clarify what it will take to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
* Build in accountability check-ins (without judgment) around the actions you choose to take.
Identify the level of support you need in order to reach the goals you've identified, and then ask for help.
Copyright 2005 Kathy Paauw
Wouldn't you love to stumble upon a secret library of ideas to help you de-clutter your life so you can focus on what's most important? Kathy Paauw offers simple, yet powerful ideas, on how to manage your time, space, and thoughts for a more productive and fulfilling life.