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THE 7 BIGGEST STRESS CULPRITS
So much for all of us getting better at managing our lives what with Dr. Phil and more self-help books on the market than pork barrel politics in Congress.
We are more stressed, and leading less contented lives than ever before in modern history. Depression is at record highs, families are ever more disconnected, more than half of our marriages now end in divorce (about 25% of those being multiple divorces), and we are generally lounging ourselves into an early grave.
But there's hope!
So, here’s the top 7 Greatest Stress-creating behaviors, and how to eliminate them. Find the ones that apply to you, and get working onthem, because these you can control.
Not saying “no”:
This is a particular problem for the female of the species, but men, now even you are doing it. It’s OK, in fact it’s healthy to turn down a request from family or friends, or not volunteer for that PTA project when you’re already trying to do too much as it is. Take Nancy Reagan’s advice and…”just say NO” – nicely and with a brief, honest explanation (“I’m just too booked right now” or “my kids come first and I’m not spending enough time with them as it is…”) Only you can prevent over-load fires.
Inefficient time/task management:
Set a schedule for checking/responding to emails and voice messages, vs. doing so extensively throughout the day; this technique is used by the top business leaders. When scheduling an appointment, rather than asking “what time’s good for you?” which gives away control of your schedule, start by giving them some good times for you. Pay attention to the amount of time it takes you to complete a task, get to/from a meeting etc; you’ll be amazed by how much longer these things take than you thought, and now you can arrange your schedule more realistically.
Being a perpetual “fixer”:
Take off the Knight suit and stop rescuing people. It’s an unhealthy way to get attention, and you’re really helping yourself feel better much more than actually helping them (it’s called “enabling”). If it is your responsibility, know what is in and out of your control so you don’t spin your wheels working on things that you cannot possibly influence.
Not scheduling time for rejuvenation:
Burn out is guaranteed when you don’t make taking time to rest/rejuvenate as much a part of your schedule as getting the laundry done. It is not something that you can take or leave – it is a mandatory requirement for both your body and your mind, and ignoring that law of physics will not change it.
The human body requires regular physical movement much like an automobile requires regular running to maintain it in good working order. You cannot remain sedentary and expect to feel good. Change your daily habits from using the least amount of physical exertion to using the most (taking the stairs whenever possible, walking into the bank vs. using the drive-thru, etc.), or you purchase one a large work-out ball to use at home, particularly while watching TV (good for everything from sit-ups to leg strengthening), But, keep your personal “vehicle” sitting in the proverbial driveway and you will soon be taking it to the salvage lot….
Making “mountains out of molehills”:
Otherwise and more currently known as “sweating the small stuff”, This behavior is quite toxic for you, and a real relationship buster with those you love. Learn to discern the difference between what’s truly important and worthy of concern, and what’s worthy of a smile, a shrug, and moving on. Begin by getting feed-back (from people whose opinion you trust) on when you tend to do this most often, and start with those and similar situations.
“Should’ing” all over yourself (and others…):
I think “should” shouldn’t be in the dictionary… I mean, really, what does “should” actually indicate? “I should be better at that….” Huh?! Either you can be better at that or you can’t (for whatever clear reason); you will be better at that or you won’t (depending on your level of motivation or present capabilities). Thinking “should” is a set-up for a no-win; an expectation with no clear determination of whether the desired outcome is doable in actuality. Be clear about what you or others actually “can” or “won’t” do vs. what they “should” do, and you’ll be on much more solid ground.
About the Author: Terri Benincasa is a Business and Personal Coach, columnist, and pretty much stress-free person! She has a double masters in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University, and over 15 years' experienc training, guiding, and motivating folks from all walks of life to "be the best - now!"