How to Manage Stress

Do you need to manage stress? Are you under the pump and feeling the pressure?  Is the stress getting to you?  It’s time to take action now!

If you’re feeling the pressure of too many obligations weighing down on you, stop, breathe and ask yourself, ‘What, specifically, is making me feel stressed?’

Are you facing a tight deadline?  Are you feeling guilty if you don’t follow through on an obligation you’ve committed to?  Do you feel pressured to do something that someone else wants you to do?    The answer could be as simple as saying, “No.”

Of course there will be consequences to saying, “No.”  Evaluate your obligations and decide upon what is important to you.  Not what’s important to other people, what is important to YOU.  Then identify what is urgent and what is not urgent.

A useful resource is Steven Covey’s ‘First Things First’ in which he identifies the four quadrants of time management:

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How to Manage Stress

Covey’s principles assist you to prioritise your time.  Learning to say “No” will simplify your life and help you to manage stress, so that you’ll be more productive without feeling stressed and constantly under pressure.

There are plenty of things out there just waiting to eat up your free time and increase your stress.  If you never turn down requests for your time and talents you may be viewed as a fabulous person who is constantly giving.  And giving.  Are you the ‘go to’ person whenever anyone is in need of anything?

It can feel so good to be so needed, as it is like validation of your self worth.  It feels like validation but it isn’t if you really think about it. (In one of my earlier posts I asked if you believe you are ‘enough.’  Enough just by being you.  Not for what you are DOING. Take a breather and read Have You Ever Been Still?)

If you don’t say, “Yes,” then who will bake the cakes for the fundraiser or coach your daughter’s netball team?  How will your friends manage without you if you don’t attend the latest social event?  What will happen to the committee if you don’t continue to be the treasurer?  What will happen to your career if you don’t work overtime every single night?  The answer may not be simple, but you should still consider these reasons for not saying, “Yes.”

  • Can saying No be good for you? Saying no does not mean that you are being selfish.   If might be the best thing for your family and your other commitments. When you say no, you’ll be able to spend quality time on the things you’ve already said yes to.
  • Is saying Yes good for you? If you do too much and become so exhausted that your immune system suffers, you get sick, tired and bad tempered.  Then you won’t be much good to anyone and you certainly won’t be taking care of yourself (the most important person in your life, after all!)
  • Could saying No give you more time to be YOU? Just because you’ve chaired a committee for the past two years does not mean that you have to keep doing it forever if your priorities have changed. Saying no will free up time to pursue what you REALLY want.
  • Recognise that others are competent too. Give others a chance to take responsibility.  Have you ever thought of delegating whenever possible?  What would happen if you did?
  • What’s important to you? Saying no helps you prioritize the things that are important to you such as leaving work at a reasonable hour to make time for whatever relaxes you at the end of the day.  Consider your current obligations and overall priorities before agreeing to any new commitments. Ask yourself if the new commitment is important to you. If it definitely is something that you feel strongly about, then by all means do it.
  • Weigh the “Yes vs. Stress” ratio. Is the new activity that you’re considering a short-term or long-term commitment?  Spending one evening giving a talk on your area of expertise to a networking group will take far less of your precious time than leading the networking committee for an entire year. If an activity is going to end up being another source of stress in your life — especially for the long term — give it a miss.
  • Stop the guilt.  It’s ok to decline a last minute invitation for dinner or a party if you were looking forward to a quiet night in.  Do what you’ve set out to do and don’t get sidetracked because of feelings of guilt or obligation. It will only lead to additional stress in your life.
  • Be realistic. If you are having people over for dinner because you enjoy their company, do you HAVE to spend 1-2 days preparing a meal worthy of the MasterChef finale or would it be just as much fun letting everyone know it’s pot luck and it’s the company everyone can look forward to?
  • Think first. Are you tempted by an offer of more responsibility? Take a day to think over the request and respond after you’ve been able to assess your current commitments as well as the new opportunity.

To help build your self confidence to handle life’s challenges, How to Build Confidence online course guides you step-by-step to take control of your life and career

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How to say NO!

It’s a very small word.  However it is hard to say at times.   Here are some things to keep in mind when you need to say no:

  • The truth.   Don’t make up excuses to get out of an obligation. The truth is always the best way to turn down a friend, family member or co-worker.  You simply have existing commitments and priorities to take care of first.
  • Be kind. Many good causes will present themselves, and it can be hard to turn them down. Compliment the person or group’s effort and state that you are unable to commit at this time.

If you are used to saying, “Yes” all or most of the time, it will take some practice to say, “No” at the right times.  Learning to do so is an important part of simplifying your life.   A better, stress-free life.


Do you need help to gain clarity in your life or in your career?  Book a complimentary exploratory chat and connect with me on LinkedIn:

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Jane Jackson

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