Being a business owner is stressful. Being an adult is stressful. Dealing with technology is stressful. My body’s reaction to stress is to try to curl up into a ball and sleep. I’m not alone.
When I was younger I did not handle stress well at all (that’s an understatement). I don’t think I’ve perfected the art of managing it, but I’ve found the following strategies work well for me.
My Five Steps for Managing Stress
First, I figure out the priorities.
I love taking a favourite pen, a really large sheet of paper (or a super cheap composition notebook) and writing down all the tasks, projects, things — any thing that is on my mind. This is also known as a brain dump. My next step is a little bit different than what most people do. I then tear up that brain dump and never look at or refer to it again. After that initial disorganized release of all the things I walk away for at least an hour before I write down all the things again. This second pass of a brain dump ends up more organized and from there I move forward to figuring out the priorities.
Second, I review at my time blocks.
Is an attention residue traffic jam is causing the stress? If it’s a looming deadline, then I figure out how to rearrange the schedule to allow extra time for the project. As I already know priorities I know what I can skip.
Third, kittens, writing, and trail running.
I have been known to call up my humane society and beg for a foster kitten. Adding work seems counter-intuitive, but I’ve found time and again it helps me. For example, after Max went back today to await his forever home, I picked up this cute little boy despite several deadlines next week. I’ve written most of this post with him purring next to me.
Finally, I make sure that I sleep.
I try to shape my days to include a 20 minute nap. Even if I don’t sleep, I try to close my eyes and shut off all distractions. I work from home so my workplace disturbances differ than most. On occasion, I push my bedtime to finish up without loss of momentum, but I pay for that the next day.
How do you work to manage stress?