How I Lower My Stress
By Cina Coren
Life seems to get more and more complicated with each passing day. Years ago, before computers were introduced, we complained about not having the time we needed to do everything we wanted. 24 hours never seemed to be sufficient to complete our daily tasks. So we looked forward to advanced technology to lift the load off our shoulders and give us the space to breath.
So what happened? Instead of using our ‘spare’ time to break through our hectic pace, we have taken upon ourselves more and more tasks and have left ourselves searching for additional hours so we can complete all the extra responsibilities we have adopted.
As a self-employed professional designer, my days seemed to never end. As my business progressed and the number of my clients increased so did my heartbeat. I was finding myself in a total tailspin by the end of each day and it took me hours to unwind. Sleep evaded me until the wee hours of the morning and even the make-up I put on couldn’t hide the dark lines under my eyes.
My family began to feel neglected and my house looked like a nursery school with toys strewn all over the place. Dishes piled up in the sink and little crawly things started coming up from the pipes.
And then I snapped. My blood pressure rose off the wall and I knew I couldn’t continue this way. Something had to be done to turn my life around. I went on a rampage searching for ways to organize my time and reduce my stress.
So first things first: As much as I hated to do it, I didn’t accept any new clients. Then I looked at my list of ongoing projects and prioritized them, working out exact schedules for their completion. I put in a phone call to each client informing them of my progress and giving them their individual time tables. Of course they all wanted to be top priority but I stuck to my guns.
That done, I felt myself relaxing somewhat. I decided to grant myself a day off of work and started organizing my home. Every few hours, I allowed myself a 15-minute break where I plunked myself down in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee or chai and a treat of some sort and just sat. I made sure my breathing returned to a normal rhythm and started on another room. By the time my children came home from school, I was able to greet them with a smile and a warm hug. I even took time to help them with their homework.
From that time on, I have learned to be organized and to pace myself. I accept a new client only when I have finished with an old one and I turn others away with an honest explanation of my actions. Most people are sympathetic. Some are willing to wait; others move on to someone else. That’s fine. There is enough work for everyone.
Exercise and Meditation
I begin my day with a brisk 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. Exercise alleviates the tightness in my chest and strengthens my mental facilities. I then spend the next 15 minutes in a semi-meditative state, sitting up against the wall with my eyes closed and try to think only good thoughts. My mp3 accompanies me with soft, relaxing music. I try to do all this before my children wake up so I am ready to get them out of the house with love and a cheerful manner.
I have added a spare nook into my office and have stacked all my old files, tax returns and other business paraphernalia onto the built-in shelves. I keep only the most recent folders on my desk. When I look around my tidy workplace, I feel content and in control.
Once a month, we get a baby sitter and my husband and I go out to a local restaurant. It’s important to keep the marital relationship moving along and it doesn’t happen on its own. And once a year, we take the children on a 3 or 4 day trip so we can spend quality time together.
I must admit that despite all my efforts, there is simply no way to get rid of stress altogether. My mind is always filled with facts, schedules and worries of all kind. But since I got myself organized both mentally and physically, there is certainly more order in my life and this in itself eliminates much of my daily anguish. This may not work for everyone. People must find their own individual way of reducing their stress. What is important is they recognize the danger of too much stress and work towards dealing with it.
Cina Coren is a contributing editor at Daily Forex and a professional designer.