… 7 Steps To Go From Overwhelm To Serenity
Stress, stress, stress! Stress is all around. It’s being built into our lives more and more, as the margin between the cost of living and the money in our pocket gets slimmer and slimmer. It comes with the longer hours in the office or at the desk late at night working on projects. It intensifies as we think about all the things we need to cram into a day and then find we have no time left to do more than the essentials to keep breathing. Then we repeat.
That’s the way it’s going now. Work is becoming cheaper as companies are increasing the amount of contractors they bring in and reducing the amount of full time employees they have. That drives the competition in the industries and then the inevitable undercutting of prices starts until everyone is doing everything at rock bottom prices just so they can get a slice of the cake.
Or maybe your hours are being stretched out at work, which eats into your social life and family time. That’s not good. That last bit of recharge time has been swallowed up and replaced with longer days of sitting at your desk, churning out documents, proposals and reports. You’re on the conveyor belt of life and the switch has been jammed on. And it just keeps going, on and on, getting faster and faster.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could slow down that conveyor belt? Or better yet, get off it completely? I think it’s time people woke up and realised that there’s a choice here. Most people have never considered this choice. And when I say consider I mean really consider! As in actually sitting down and running through the options that they have to make a change to their life for the better. To be able to make more time for family, for relaxing and unwinding, for your health! The amount of stress related illness is ridiculous when you sit back and look at the numbers. These were some of the ones that stood out for me. (I’ll include the link in this article for you to look at the full lot)
- In 2015/16 a staggering 37% of ill health cases in the workplace were attributed to stress.
- 45% of all the work days lost by employers were because of stress related illness.
- The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS) were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
Stress, anxiety and associated states that come with these emotions are killing us emotionally. They drain us and when we are emotionally and mentally drained then our body follows suit. Remember folks, the body follows the mind!
So, in today’s article I thought I’d explore how I unload and detox from stress. You’ll be able to take away a few bits and pieces or go through the whole regime yourself.
The thing to remember about stress is that you are in overwhelm. Your mind is running so fast and becomes swamped in the perceived enormity of a task or series of tasks. On top of that it is extremely exhausting being overwhelmed and trying to think of everything at once! The trick in getting out of this overwhelm is to get into the details of the tasks and to become really specific. This is why when we break things down and give ourselves short term goals we feel less overwhelmed. It doesn’t seem so big and scary anymore, right?
Let’s jump in and see how I deal with stress when it hits me and the 7 steps I take to eliminate it.
- Stop What You’re Doing
The first step in dealing with stress is recognising that you are stressed. Acknowledge that you are in overwhelm and stop running around like a headless chicken. You’re not helping yourself and projecting tension and unrest out definitely isn’t helping anyone else.
Time to take a deep breath and slow down the speed at which your brain is trying to operate at. At the moment we’re on a train that’s going faster and faster which will inevitably derail if we don’t put the brakes on. I take a few deep breaths in and make each exhalation 3 times longer than it took to inhale that breath. This put the brakes on that speeding train and gets us grounded.
3. Write Everything Down
Now we need to get all that stuff out of our head and relieve the pressure that’s built up. I find the best way to do this is to write everything down on a pad of paper. Get everything out, even if you’re writing the same thing down in different ways. Keep writing all the stuff that has built up in your head until there is nothing left. This is our chance to release the emotional charge of the stress and ‘vent’ everything out in front of us.
4. Group Points Together
Now we take all the points we’ve written down and sort them into categories. Everything to do with a specific project, household chores, that party you’re hosting, your career. Whatever those categories are, sort each point under a heading.
Things are starting to feel a lot calmer already! Next we are going to look at each category in turn and order the points in order of importance. As we look down the list in a particular category we are going to be thinking if I do 20% of this list that will be enough to eliminate 80% of stress in my life. So if in one category I have 10 points I will be putting them in a hierarchy of importance where if I did the top 2 points I would eliminate 80% of my stress for that category. Do this with all your categories and collate the top 20% of each list into a separate list and re-prioritise this final list.
6. Cup of Tea
I cannot stress this step enough (excuse the pun)! Put the kettle on and make a good cup of tea or coffee. Once you have made your preferred beverage then go to a different place to where you were making your lists. Sit in the kitchen, go in the garden, put your feet up in the lounge. Most importantly, don’t take the sheets of paper and lists that you’ve just made with you. Leave them!
You’ll come back to them in a bit. There’s a very good reason for doing this, besides the fact a brew makes everything instantly better. We want to break the state that you are in and give your mind a chance to find neutral again. This time, even just 5 minutes is where you let your mind wander, think about that soap opera you watched or that terrible pun your heard the other day.
7. Take Action
You’ve given your mind a break and you’ve refuelled. It’s time to look back at your final list and execute the top 20% of it. Go and focus on those tasks, get them done and strike them off your list! When you’ve done that 20% re-evaluate where you are and keep working down your list. When I get to the last few items on my list I pull in the next most important points from my category lists and repopulate my final list.
NOTE: Repeat step 6 as necessary.