Before you can destress, you should figure out what activities cause you excessive stress and take steps to minimize or even eliminate those stressors! This badge program will help you look at your life and start the process of stress management.
1. What do you do?
Your job, family activities, school work, volunteer efforts — everything you do adds to your stress level. Some items are more stressful than others. Start by making a list of what you do. Mark what you think your stress level is for that activity.
2. Keep a journal.
For two weeks, keep track of what you do every day. A sample page is provided with the PDF of this badge program. Start with what you plan to do and what you actually accomplish. Write down your level of stress multiple times during the day. Here’s a few questions to think about to help determine your stress level.
- Are you irritable?
- Do you have difficulty going to sleep or waking up?
- Do you need alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes to calm down?
- Do you feel overwhelmed?
- Do you feel like you have to do everything yourself?
- Do you get shaky hands or have trouble breathing for no reason?
- Do you make a big deal about everything?
- Do you have obsessive habits (nail biting, scratching, etc.)?
- Do you suffer from chest pain or occasional heart racing?
- Do you have a lack of appetite?
3. Physical indictors.
Grinding your teeth? Feeling your body tense up? It’s your body telling you it’s stressed. If you’re feeling the stress, move your indicator in your journal up a level.
4. Finding your stressors.
Review your journal at the end of two weeks. Compare your activities to those you listed in Step 1 to determine whether the activities you do are more or less stressful than you thought.
Highlight those times when you felt extremely stressed. Ask yourself if there is a specific time of day or activity where stress tends to rise? Are there ways to reduce stress during the hard times?
5. How much you plan to accomplish vs. how much you accomplish.
One thing that will add stress to your life is all the little things you have to do. There are always more than you can accomplish. Taking the kids to activities, errands, home repair, job responsibilities, volunteer obligations and more fill our lives. Our days are busier than ever before. Make a list of everything you did for two weeks. Next to it, determine how much time each item took, including time to prepare, drive, etc. Determine how much time you spend “doing” things each day.
6. Put it off until tomorrow.
Some things have to be put off. Even the most efficient people know they can’t get everything done in one day. Make large jobs smaller by setting smaller goals. Need to clean the basement, why not sort a box a day? Closet exploding? Pull out ten items each evening to try on and determine if you *really* should keep them.
Then, look at your small jobs. Can you organize everyone to help you on a Saturday to get ten items off your list? Perhaps another mother can pick up your kids from soccer this week and you’ll do it next week.
Do not put off time for yourself. If you are working on a project that is stressing you out, put it aside and return to it in a day or two. Is it absolutely necessary to complete it? There are very few things that have an absolute deadline. By stepping away from a project and returning to it when you are more relaxed, you will be able to work more efficiently and effectively.
7. Passing the buck.
Are there jobs that there is no reason for you to do? If your car needs an oil change, most of us take it to the garage. We don’t have the tools or the recycling facilities. If you are doing jobs that are taking you too long to do because you don’t have the skills, knowledge or equipment, hire them out or find someone else to do them.
One thing to help your stress level is organization. Keep materials you need in a specific location so you don’t waste time looking for them. Don’t endure clutter that obscures materials you need.
Using a calendar can help keep your time organized. Make sure you include all the time necessary for projects and errands, including driving and stops to drop off the extra kids we all end up taking home.
Look through your journal. Could you have combined errands to save time? You’re looking in retrospect to help make future choices. By trying to organize the previous two weeks, you can then try to apply it to the next week. Are there any things that will happen again that you can change to save time, money and / or stress?
What other ways can you become organized to help reduce your stress level?
9. Worry wasters.
Do you find yourself worrying about getting things done? Worry, fear and doubt wastes a lot of time and adds to your stress level. If you can’t do anything about it, stop worrying. If it seems you can’t stop worrying, work on something else to take your mind off your worry.
I worry about the garage door being open. So, I’ll go out and check it. It takes five minutes as opposed to waking up multiple times during the night while worrying about it. It has become a nightly habit for me. Find ways to stop yourself from wasting time with no benefits to you.
10. Make a list of what you’ve accomplished.
Go back to your journal. Make a list of what you did. Include both those tasks that you do continuously like the laundry and those that you have finished, like getting new tires for the car. Instead of focusing on what “needs” to be done, focus on what you have done. Review your list and take satisfaction on a job well done!
When the stress is too much, visualize yourself with the activity accomplished. Focus on the feeling of finishing the job. Not only will you feel better, but you will be energized to complete the activity.
12. Just say no!
This is the hardest thing to do. It feels good to be needed, but you must speak up for yourself and say “enough” when you have too much. Ask yourself if you’re taking more than you can handle. Are the deadlines realistic? Are the tasks doable? Trust yourself.
If you cannot say no, make a compromise. Help with only one part of a project instead of multiple parts. For example, offer to drive to an event, but not work at it as well. Perhaps you could set up the games for the cookie rally, but not run any of them and enjoy the event with your daughter instead.
13. Ask for help.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. The saying “many hands make light work” is true. Don’t struggle by yourself when you know one or two more people will take the time to do the project down significantly. In addition, someone else’s point of view might provide a way to do the job more efficiently or a different way with a better result.
14. Time for you.
Have you scheduled any time for yourself? Sleeping does NOT count. To keep your stress level down, you need to do things you enjoy. Go back to Step 5. After you’ve done all the things you “have” to do, how much time do you have left for yourself?
If you find you have forgotten yourself, look at the “Destress Myself” badge program to find ways to help reduce stress by taking care of you.
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