Much of the stress we experience is self-imposed and created by the patterns we establish in our daily lives. For many women, feeling stressed out and time-strapped sucks all the energy out of us. It really isn’t an ideal way to live. But ladies, life doesn’t have to be that way!
Life management habits play a big part in how stressed out and overly busy we feel on any given day. Thankfully, there is a lot we can do to keep our schedule in control and with a manageable amount of stress. I say manageable because – let’s be honest – some stress and pressure is a good thing because it moves us into action. But too much wreaks havoc on our bodies, minds and souls!
Unfortunately, I spent a lot of my 20s stressed out and time-strapped; always trying to do more of what I love…and do it better. Now don’t get me wrong – goals are fantastic drivers for living a life of success, intentionality and purpose. I’m all about that! But without the following three life management solutions, that drive for success, accomplishment and enjoyment will most likely be our ruin in the end. Diligently applying the following life management solutions really transformed my way of life. I continue to apply these concepts to keep myself at a good stress level and make sure my schedule revolves around my priorities and joys. The list is a little long, but it is worth the read!
Life Management Solution #3: Establishing healthy routines for your body.
There are lots of opportunities throughout any given day to get yourself into healthy routines. Inefficient, ineffective and unhealthy routines steal our energy and often waste time, which can make life feel more stressful than it needs to be.
To start, an effective morning routine gets you ready for the day and ready on time. It gives you as much time you need to be your best self when you go into the world. This means you are ready mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. For me this requires sacrificing a little bit of sleep each morning to get up earlier than I’d like, but I know the sacrifice is worth it! Being ready in this way enables us to better handle challenges that come our way each day. There is nothing more stressful than starting the morning feeling rushed and unprepared!
How does your current morning routine set you up for success?
Healthy eating and exercise routines are key life management solutions that come at us all day long. Every meal (or snack) gives us the opportunity to make good choices. I love chocolate and sweets, but I try to keep my intake of them to a reasonable amount. I also love Mexican and Italian food because of the cheese and carbs in most dishes, but I know that eating this type of food weekly isn’t ideal for maintaining my current body weight and shape. I walk regularly with my husband and dog and workout at the gym 2-3 times a week. I try to stay well hydrated, drinking more water than any other beverage. Keeping my body fit has so many other benefits that build into my success in many other areas of my life. Eating healthy is a key way to make sure you are at your very best! The Food Network even likes to talk about which foods can help us find relief from stress in healthy ways!
What adjustments could you make to your eating or exercise habits to feel physically at your best?
And let’s not forget that a consistent bed time isn’t just for kids! Setting a consistent time and set of activities to end my day (including when I get off all electronic devices which can be so hard) really helps me fall asleep faster. Having a set bed time is good for my body and a “good night” routine helps my mind wind down after a long day. My best nights end with a bit of personal reflection, setting out items needed for tomorrow and a little yoga before I grab some zzzs. Shawn Stevenson’s book Sleep Smarter is a great resource on this topic, or for a quicker read, check out this list of 10 calming activities to do before bed.
How could you adjust the last hour of your day to consistently include more peaceful activities to help you wind down for the day and prepare for tomorrow?
The goal with this life management solution is to shape a day around what is best for your body. It is the only one you’ve got and although modern medicine is able to do some pretty amazing fixes for a broken human body, it will never be new again this side of heaven. A strong and healthy body sets us up to do our best with each part of the day, lowering your stress levels.
Life Management Solution #2: Slowing down.
As simple as it sounds, slowing down has made a huge difference in my life. I used to be in such a rush…a huge hurry…a hurry for something to happen…a hurry for a relationship to become romantic…a hurry for riches…a hurry for public praise…a hurry for success. I had to learn that life is not about the destination but the journey, about the process we undergo that develops us into better people.
Now a days I try to slow down enough to enjoy and savor life in the moment, to let myself “stop and smell the roses” and really take in the journey. It is easy for me to rush and rush until life’s no fun, just as old Alabama sings, waiting for the next development in my life. In our American culture it is easy for us to spend so much time thinking about the future and reviewing the past that we miss what is right in front of us.
What is your natural mental pace? Are you frequently in a hurry?
I slow myself down by creating gratitude, especially at the end of my day. I list out anything in my journal that I’m thankful for from the day. Nothing is too small to be listed! There are many other ways you can use gratitude to reduce stress if journaling isn’t your style. I also slow my life down by creating regular reflection patterns in my life that help me chunk a year into manageable pieces. More about this process of quarterly reviews will come in a future post!
How can you create space in your life to live more in the present, taking in what is unfolding right before you?
The goal with this life management solution is to set your mindset in the present as much as possible and let yourself just “be in progress” sometimes, not always striving to reach the finish line.
And my favorite (because it was the most powerful for me)… Life Management Solution #1: Creating Margin.
This final solution was really the clincher for me in making my transition from being stressed out and time-strapped to living a well-balanced and authentic life.
Margin means having extra space in our days, weeks, months and years. A schedule jam-packed (like mine from about age 23-31) has no white space, no down time, no me-time, no flexibility, no room for something to “come up”, no opportunity for spontaneity or the supernatural movements of God. Every hour of my waking day was scheduled and that simply wore me out year after year!
Which, if any, of your days have unscheduled time? How does this white space impact the rest of your week?
So much of our stress is self-created by the demands we place on our time. What we say “yes” and “no” to really can predict our stress levels. Managing your schedule in a way that has free time is key to keeping your stress in a manageable realm.
For me this meant creating priorities for how I would spend my time and sticking to them! It included stepping down from leadership roles in volunteer commitments. It meant staying home at least 2 nights Monday-Friday instead of participating in social and civic activities after work. I wore my body out by not giving myself enough time to rest and recoup at home. At first it was hard to say no to the activities I loved, but I knew I was not keeping a sustainable pace. As I gained more life-clarity, I was able to create limits and it was so good for me! (Huge thanks goes out to my friend Cathy who helped me see how important having margin would be in my life if I wanted to create a healthy marriage someday! As much as I wanted a serious and deep romantic relationship at 27, I didn’t have space for one in my life!)
Are there any extra activities or commitments in your life that are not really top level investments for you? If you consistently feel time-strapped, which activities could you do less frequently or cut out all together?
The goal with this life management solution is to set your life at a reasonable pace, one that you can maintain over the long haul. You are part of a marathon, not a sprint so you’ll be best off if you can find ways to manage your life accordingly.
So there you go! Those are my 3 favorite life management solutions. Together they made a huge difference for me once I started living by them (somewhere around my 30th birthday). I’ve got others, and I am sure you do too. Future posts will explore other life management solutions and stress management tactics. If there are specific ones you are curious to learn more about, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to dive into this topic deeper? Sign up for my monthly newsletter (top of the page) and receive my free download “The Path to Life Balance: 10 intentional ways to increase your life balance and lead a more sustainable and satisfying life!” Individual coaching is also available for those who want to enlist a personal leadership coach to implement any of these solutions.
Feel free to call 970-591-3555 schedule your FREE 45 minute Clarity Call to discuss any of the questions included in this post.
p.s. This post was largely crafted while standing, perching and bouncing at the Fully Showroom, using their Jarvis Standing Desk. Finding healthy ways to work definitely is part of establishing healthy routines for your body. If any of you are considering new office furniture or accessories – that are good for your body – Fully sells some great products! (And no, I don’t get a cut for anything you buy from them. I just really enjoyed my opportunity to write while standing and actively sitting/bouncing.)
First published by Jessica Lynn Johnson for www.jljcoachingservices.com in September 2017