I’m just finding my way out of a season which, if I had to name it, would be called Overwhelm.
It was a stressful time, full of “how did I get here?” and “where do I start from?” moments. The worst thing was that it didn’t seem like it would ever end. Sometimes the thought of endless pressure-filled days brought on anxiety and shortness of breath.
I was unable to write anything, and I had no time to read. Anyone who knows me knows that not being able to read is not only indicative of high stress but actually creates another layer of stress.
Alas, tough times don’t last and that season of my life is giving way to a season of pure energy, high productivity and less stress. What did I learn about reducing stress and freeing up your life?
- Manage your energy, not merely your time
Success requires you to reserve your energy for your best and highest use. This applies not just to select the activities you choose to engage in, but to every single day of your life. The first five hours of the day are extremely precious to me because they are my most productive hours. I didn’t learn to maximise those hours early enough; it would have saved me a lot of trouble. My best days were the days when I had achieved a whole lot before 12 noon. Don’t get caught up with checking and replying Whatsapp messages, emails and tweets. Select and complete your most important tasks first.
- Do one thing at a time
Multitasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Take baby steps, arrange your tasks in batches, and tackle one at a time, starting with the one that would make the biggest impact on your entire day. For example, I find that if I start my day by writing the first draft for a story or article, or editing a chapter or two of a manuscript, it’s unlikely I will feel like a waste at bedtime, regardless of how the rest of the day went.
- Schedule in happiness
Knowing the things that make you happy and deliberately scheduling them in, will relieve stress and boost happiness more than you ever thought possible. Don’t just wait for happiness to come your way. Make a list of things that make you happy and make them happen. Call up a good old friend. Stock up on your favourite snacks and drinks. Make love. Listen to music at home. Set time aside for prayer and meditation.
It’s tempting to forego sleep when deadlines are looming, but guess what’s worse than missing a deadline? Missing a deadline because you traded sleep for working towards said deadline and fell ill. Resist the temptation to skimp on sleep. Your entire body needs it.
- Learn to say no
“I’m afraid I’m not available to work on this project at this time…” was one of the hardest things for me to say or type, but I had to learn to do it. No matter how much you love the work you do, you must learn to draw the line. Too many yeses’ can mess up your schedule and drain you. Your body suffers, your loved ones suffer, your spirituality suffers…it’s not pretty. To live amazing, you must learn to say no.
Have you ever experienced a season of immense stress? How did you navigate it? Do share in the comments.
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