How to Handle Stress

I came to a point recently where everything just seemed to be pretty overwhelming, schedules full and stress abounding. Normally I thrive on the rapid shift from event to event and the busyness that fills my calendar with things to do, but this time it felt like a lot of stuff and not enough time to accomplish it all with excellence. This got me thinking about how often we go through life, and when people ask us "how are you?" we respond with "I'm busy"---when did that become an acceptable or even admired response? Are we investing our time into the right kinds of activities and plans that will lead us to accomplish greatness, or do we simply fill our calendars with things that keep us occupied? After a good conversation with some friends, I was inspired to do some planning and self-examination of how I balance my schedule and life. Here's a few of the things that have helped me in the search for finding that necessary wise investment of time.

-Create a system for everything (daily habits, school, writing, work..etc.)
-Assess where you have put the majority of your focus up to this point in your life. Is it a direction that will benefit you in the future? Determine how to shift that focus by adding time, money and attention to the activities that will benefit and grow you in those areas and develop your character.

Ask yourself 4 questions:
1. Who are you becoming?--What are you doing everyday to develop a habit of character growth?
2. What are you doing?--Are you investing time in activities that will lead you to your goals?
3. Who do you hang out with?--Do you surround yourself with positive, encouraging and inspiring people?
4. Are you growing?--Are you asking enough questions and challenging yourself to do hard things, or do you simply stay within your comfort zone?

Once I've answered those questions, I move on to creating a schedule that gives me more time to do what I want and need to be doing.
Here's a few tips I've picked up over the years to create more margin in life:

Delegate: Work smarter, not just harder. Do what you do best and drop the rest. Operate within your areas of strength.

Plan: What gets planned for, gets done. Get control of your calendar; otherwise, other people will.

Collaborate: Work with others that you like so you are energized. Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you. Invest time with others who are ahead of you on the journey, in the areas where you want to grow, and learn from them.

Reduce: Look at your calendar, examine your daily and weekly activities, and decide which ones are keeping you from being productive...and eliminate them. This frees up your time and energy to be focused on what really matters and will make a world of difference for you! (This concept also applies to relationships with others...sometimes it's best to simply move on when friends aren't growing in the same kind of direction as you. Don't try to drag people along to a place where they aren't willing to be.)

"It honors God when we enjoy life and live it well. That means taking risks--sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always learning. When you enjoy your life, the lines between work and play begin to blur. We do what we love and love what we do. Everything becomes a learning experience."--Tom Peters

Perhaps you've been in that same stressed situation like I was. It was so beneficial to invest some time in assessment of my priorities, calendar and goals. Challenge yourself to look at your life, examine your daily routine, habits, and schedule, and apply some of these ideas to create the life you really want.
How do you handle stress? What helps you to stay focused on your goals?


Brisni said...

Timely. In more ways that one. ;)

Another helpful tip for de-stressing is to remember to take a day off. (It's a red flag if someone feels bad for not being busy!) For Christians in the work place, it can be difficult to balance working, serving and resting... but resting is essential to our well being. So important that God (who doesn't need it) rested and emphasized its importance (even *holiness*).

Make sure you take a day to relax, rest and unwind!

ashley said...

I agree completely. Very timely for me as well. Especially when you can overcommit to things that can get in the way of other things that are important too.

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