Everyone deals with stress every day. The key is not to stress too much.
Before you can destress, you should figure out what activities cause you excessive stress and take steps to minimize or even eliminate those stressors! This badge program will help you look at your life and start the process of stress management.
For two weeks, keep track of what you do every day. A sample page is provided with the PDF of this badge program. Start with what you plan to do and what you actually accomplish. Write down your level of stress multiple times during the day. Here’s a few questions to think about to help determine your stress level.
- Are you irritable?
- Do you have difficulty going to sleep or waking up?
- Do you need alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes to calm down?
- Do you feel overwhelmed?
- Do you feel like you have to do everything yourself?
- Do you get shaky hands or have trouble breathing for no reason?
- Do you make a big deal about everything?
- Do you have obsessive habits (nail biting, scratching, etc.)?
- Do you suffer from chest pain or occasional heart racing?
- Do you have a lack of appetite or eat to calm down?
Your job, family activities, school work, volunteer efforts — everything you do adds to your stress level. Some items are more stressful than others. On your journal page, mark what you think your stress level is for each activity you accomplish.
Grinding your teeth? Feeling your body tense up? It’s your body telling you it’s stressed. This is only one symptom of stress. Look at the list of questions in Step 1 and see if any of them apply to you. If you’re feeling the stress, move your indicator in your journal up a level.
Review your journal at the end of two weeks. Compare your completed activities to those you originally listed. We want to look at this information in a couple different ways.
First, determine whether the activities you completed are more or less stressful than you thought. Highlight those times when you felt extremely stressed. Ask yourself if there is a specific time of day or activity where stress tends to rise? Are certain people present during the stressful times? If so, do they increase or decrease your stress? Do specific situations arise that affect your stress?
After you’ve addressed the completed activities, look at those items that you didn’t complete. The ultimate question for these is whether they truly need to be done or if these are items you can take off your list. If you cannot remove them, continue for some ideas on how to deal with these. Sometimes uncompleted tasks are more stressful than the ones that were accomplished.
Take a Step Back
5. Plan vs. do.
One thing that will add stress to your life is all the little things you have to do. There are always more than you can accomplish. Taking the kids to activities, errands, home repair, job responsibilities, volunteer obligations and more fill our lives. Our days are busier than ever before. Make a list of everything you do for two weeks from your journal. Next to it, determine how much time each item took, including time to prepare, drive, etc. Determine how much time you spend “doing” things each day. Have you planned enough time and energy to do these or are they last minute and taking longer to do because you haven’t been able to plan them into your day? Are these the things adding stress to your life?
Some things have to be put off. Even the most efficient people know they can’t get everything done in one day. Make large jobs smaller by setting smaller goals. Need to clean the basement, why not sort a box a day? Closet exploding? Pull out ten items each evening to try on and determine if you *really* should keep them. Then, look at your small jobs. Can you organize everyone to help you on a Saturday to get ten items off your list? Examine ways to do less necessary tasks less often or even have others do them.
Organization can help you combat stress. Keep materials you need in a specific location so you don’t waste time looking for them. Don’t endure clutter that obscures materials you need.
Using a calendar can help keep your time organized. Make sure you include all the time necessary for projects and errands, including driving and stops to drop off the extra kids we all end up taking home.
Look through your journal. Could you have combined errands to save time? You’re looking in retrospect to help make better future choices. By trying to organize the previous two weeks, you can then try to apply it to the following weeks. Are there any things that will happen again that you can change to save time, money and / or stress?
What other ways can you become organized to help reduce your stress level?
Are there jobs that there is no reason for you to do? If your car needs an oil change, most of us take it to the garage. We don’t have the tools or the recycling facilities. If you are doing jobs that are taking you too long to do because you don’t have the skills, knowledge or equipment, hire them out or find someone else to do them.
Perhaps another mother can pick up your kids from soccer this week and you’ll do it next week. Can you take turns with other families hosting a “play date” to free up a few hours for other activities?
9. Just say no!
This is the hardest thing to do. It feels good to be needed, but you must speak up for yourself and say “enough” when you have too much. Ask yourself if you’re taking on more than you can handle. Are the deadlines realistic? Are the tasks doable? Trust your inner voice and let others step up to the task.
If you cannot say no, make a compromise. Help with only one part of a project instead of multiple parts. For example, offer to drive to an event, but not work at it as well.
10. Ask for help.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. The saying “many hands make light work” is true. Don’t struggle by yourself when you know one or two more people will take the time to do the project down significantly. In addition, someone else’s point of view might provide a way to do the job more efficiently or a different way with a better result.
NOTE: If you cannot get help, reconsider doing the project completely. For example, if I’m asked to run an event and I cannot get anyone to volunteer to help, I drop it or significantly limit the number of participants to make it manageable.
Go back to your journal. Make a list of what you accomplished. Include both those tasks that you do continuously like the laundry and those that you have finished, like getting new tires for the car. Instead of focusing on what “needs” to be done, focus on what you have done. Review your list and take satisfaction on a job well done!
12. Time for you.
Have you scheduled any time for yourself? Sleeping does NOT count. To keep your stress level down, you need to do things you enjoy. After you’ve done all the things you “have” to do, how much time do you have left for yourself? If you have no time for yourself, you need to cut back on what you’re doing for others.
SUPP_Find My Stress_2in_12up_larajla
- Avery 2.5” round label printable, 12 up
SUPP_Find My Stress_Checklist_larajla
- Badge checklist
- Two page journal to cover the day to track your stress level
- A short list of symptoms to help determine if you are stressed
Sites to Explore
Get the infographic here > larajla blog post
Get the PDFs of the badge program / supplements here > Full badge PDFs