Sometimes, we can add “extra” stress to an otherwise manageable level of stress by procrastinating, negative thoughts, and the favorite - worrying.
Take a Positive Inventory
There are three lists below that focus on different areas: Work & Leisure, Physical, and Emotional.
How many of the suggestions listed below do you already use in your life?
Did you notice any that are of interest or possible benefit to you?
Sometimes, in a genuine effort to improve, we try to change too much all at once and then collapse in exhaustion, only to resume more familiar stressful habits. The recommended method for establishing real change in behavior is very simple. Choose one new and desired behavior at a time from the lists below and add it to your life for 21 days. If you skip/miss a day - the 21 day period will need to start over again.
Deadlines and holidays, along with daily routines and requirements offer the framework to structure our time. Only when we push the limits of our time structure repeatedly or for prolonged periods does stress overload begin to erode our energy reserves.
Do you have time to follow through with any of the suggestions listed below? Of course you do! You will be replacing energy-draining and stress-maximizing behaviors with actions that are designed to put you in more “manageable” control of your life.
You will recognize some key behaviors that you are already incorporating into your life.
Good for you.
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Perhaps your “worry topics” follow the same percentages as a lot people: 40% of the time worrying about things that will never happen; 30% of the time worrying about things that cannot be changed (no matter how much worry and attention you give them); 12% of the time misinterpreting the thoughts and feelings of others; 10% of the time worrying about your health; leaving 12% of the time to worry about legitimate concerns and problems.
Make a list of all your worries and then assign them to one of the categories listed in the preceding paragraph. If there are specific worries regarding your health then list them in the ‘legitimate concerns and problems’. Now put at least one thing you are currently doing to manage each item and one thing you are planning to do for each item. Place the other categories of worries in a safe place. Review in 1 week. Review in 2 weeks. Review in 1 month. How many of the ‘worries’ became fact? How many are you still worried about? What have you accomplished towards managing your legitimate concerns? Stay with this procedure and you learn to worry less.
Manage your life as a total enterprise, much as you would manage a corporation.
Successful businesses clearly identify goals and the methods to achieve those goals. They know when to hire the best outside services to assist. They also have great benefit packages and know how to reward their staff.
Do not become lopsided in any one area; seek rewarding experiences in all dimensions of living.
Do not let your work dominate your entire life.
Make time your ally, not your master.
Try scheduling only 90% of your time. The remaining 10% is carefully reserved for restorative purposes or GENUINE crisis.
Find some time every day - even if only 10 minutes - for complete privacy, aloneness with your thoughts, and freedom from the pressure of work. Preferably do this for a few minutes several times a day.
Since “necessity is the mother of invention” learn to approach problems as an opportunity to sharpen your inventive skills. Learn from the creative skills of others, as well.
Try not to react to unanticipated events as if they are all emergencies. Unless the place is on fire or someone is bleeding profusely you have time to
STOP, BREATHE, THINK and then ACT.
Reduce watching television and news programs.
Do not wait until you “need” a vacation to take the day(s) off. A renowned motivational speaker observed how organized and energized most people become prior to taking a vacation. Priorities are clear, tasks efficiently handled or delegated, contingencies covered for when gone. The ideal would be to establish a schedule of long and short vacations to keep priorities clear and rejuvenate you to meet those goals. A vacation can be at least a week in the Virgin Islands or 48 hours just 50 miles away in a quaint bed and breakfast.
Learn & practice the skill of deep relaxation.
Breathe deeply & calmly before acting.
Learn to take 3 brisk in-and-out breaths then a slow deep breath to quickly re-energize.
Learn to visualize yourself as an athlete - physically relaxed and poised for action.
Use an aerobic exercise such as walking or jogging to build your health to a higher level of conditioning. Consult with your physician to establish your realistic limits and potential.
Get your body weight up or down to a healthy level you can be pleased with and keep it there.
Form and keep sensible eating habits. Use sweets rarely and minimize junk foods. Emphasize foods you like that are good for you.
If you smoke, stop completely. Use alcohol only for social or ceremonial purposes; do not let alcohol use you. Minimize or eliminate the use of all recreational drugs. Yes, marijuana, too.
Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated with decaffeinated, non-alcoholic, non-carbonated, not artificially sweetened fluids is one of the easiest ways to contribute to good health and sustained energy.
Free yourself from dependency on patent medicines such as antacids, laxatives, cold remedies, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, as well as central nervous system depressants by teaching your body to relax and normalize its functions.
Take all prescribed medications as directed. Do not hesitate to ask questions of your physician, nurse, PA, and pharmacist so that you are fully informed of dosage requirements and possible side effects.
Have an annual physical, eye, and dental examination to provide extra peace of mind.
Become as informed and proactive as possible for any current, chronic, or life threatening diseases for which you are diagnosed.
Know how much sleep you need. Then do whatever it takes to insure you sleep naturally and well on a consistent basis.
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Jealously guard your personal freedoms - the freedom to choose your friends, the freedom to live with and love whom you choose, the freedom to think and believe as you choose, the freedom to structure your time as you see fit, and the freedom to set your own life’s goals.
Take action to settle those matters that are troubling you. Do not leave situations unresolved for so long that they make you worry needlessly.
Open yourself up to new experiences. Try doing things you have never done before, sample foods you have never eaten, go places you have never been. Find self-renewing opportunities in the unfamiliar.
Keep a journal and keep it as a private commentary/conversation with yourself.
Keep a scrapbook as a visual refresher for your memory.
Protect your home. Design your home for the safety and comfort of you and your family. If House & Garden shows up for a surprise photo feature then let them feature a relaxed and happy home that meets your unique needs and is not dependent on trends for its personality.
Form at least two high-quality relationships with people you trust and with whom you can be your true self.
Ask for and give hugs.
Speak with a genuine smile, even when on the phone.
Learn to laugh at yourself, especially when you are imperfectly human.
Review your “obligations” from time to time and make sure they will also bring rewards for you. Divest yourself of those that are not good for you.
Contribute - be it your time, goods, or funds - to solutions in which you believe.
Allow yourself to recognize and experience the full range of emotions as denying sorrow can only minimize joy.
Recognize that you can have more than one feeling at a time.
Articulate your beliefs and values then act accordingly.