Stress is a part of everyday life for us all. In fact, as humans, we rely upon it to spur us into action, make decisions and keep ourselves healthy. However, with ever-increasing workloads, household tasks and family commitments, stress often stops becoming useful and starts to become unhealthy and overwhelming. Headaches, tense shoulders and mood disruption are just some of the signs and symptoms of stress. By simply being more aware of stress, its causes and how to alleviate and lessen it can help you stay healthy in both mind and body.
If you are feeling stressed and tired, take some time to sit down and record your time. Over the course of a week, keep a record of how much time you spend on tasks and activities. At the end of the week colour-code your week (a highlighter or crayon will do): select a colour for work related activities, one for family activities, one for household activities and one that indicates time spent relaxing. What you are likely to see is that there is a marked imbalance in colour that shows you spend a lot of time on work and household activities and not a great deal of time on yourself.
Once you have coloured in your record, go through and look carefully at each of the activities and how much time you spent on them. Think about whether the activity is needed, whether there’s a partner or work colleague who could take some of the activity from you, or whether you could reduce the amount of time you spend on the activity. This is really about streamlining your time. For example, if you spend a portion of time doing housework and a portion of time doing grocery shopping, why not combine the two and have the grocery shopping delivered during the time you’re doing the housework? Granted, you still have to put the shopping away, clean out the fridge etc., but you are saving time driving to the supermarket, walking around the supermarket and driving home.
Make a list of the things you like to do to relax – think of as many as you can. You won’t be able to do them all each week but it’s good to have a good list to take from. For example, you might include things such as: jogging or walking, reading, singing or acting in a group, making gifts for others, and gardening.
After reviewing your week and time spent on activities, plan the following week. Start by making a list of the things you need to do and some of the things from your relaxation list, and fit them into a daily schedule. Think about when you have energy and when your concentration is best, and plan around this – some people feel more alert and ‘on the ball’ during the morning and others in the evening, so do what suits you.
And most importantly of all, don’t consider the things from your relaxation list to be of less importance that the other things that fill your week. Spending time on yourself and doing things that help you to relax are really important and make you more productive in the long run.