5 Ways to Relax and Get Things Done
“I am so overwhelmed with work, I can’t see straight.” Sound familiar? More than half of US workers feel overworked and overwhelmed. I’ve worked with managers who wanted to be more effective, but had more work on their plates than they could handle, and with engineers who felt the pressure to work quickly, but became frustrated because there wasn’t enough time to get to the root of and fix a problem.
Whether you’re a manager or staff, you have to deal with a heavy workload as well as the stressful situations, deadlines, and productivity issues that come along with it. After hours or on weekends, you may catch yourself expending energy and feeling stress worrying about a client, a customer, or how to handle something with a co-worker or your boss. Then there’s the relationship pressures and conflicts that can arise if you lack quality time to spend with your loved ones.
Being under constant stress in your personal and professional life can negatively affect your health, accelerating the onset of heart disease and diabetes, thwarting your capacity to get enough sleep, increasing the likelihood of a heart attack, and dangerously raising your blood pressure.
So what can you do? Here are five ways to help you handle the stress.
Take a stress break.
Just a 10-minute break can shift your mindset. A quick walk around the block or a brisk 30-minute walk at lunch time can get your creative juices flowing. Marveling over the flowers in a neighborhood garden or keeping up with a squirrel on a fence allows your mind to relax and float, and you just might come up with a workable solution by the end of lunch or by the end of the day. And don’t feel guilty about these breaks– they actually can enhance your productivity.
Set reasonable boundaries.
If you’re someone who thrives on the satisfaction of getting things done, it’s easy to stay on that hamster wheel, thinking “If I just put in one more hour, then I’ll get it off my plate.” One of the hardest things to accept is that there’s always something waiting in the wings that needs to be done. Become comfortable leaving things for the next day, and set firm boundaries, especially if you have a family you want to spend time with, or a relationship that you want to keep.
In addition to setting boundaries around your work responsibilities, consider setting boundaries around your personal time, as well. For example, if you have a long commute, you might be willing to come in to work early Monday through Friday and put in 10 to 12 hour days so that you won’t have to drive to work over the weekend. Think about the boundaries you need to draw to be able to balance your work and personal life.
Determine your priorities.
Sometimes, it can appear that everything that needs to be done is of equal value and importance. Taking a few minutes in the morning to review each task, its importance and corresponding deadline can help you determine what to focus on first and how to spend your time throughout the day, which will increase your efficiency.
Decide who should be doing what.
For each task, ask yourself if you need to do it, or if someone else can do it. When you think about your role and responsibilities, what are the items that only you can do? Consider your expertise, level of responsibility, and technical know-how. Do you need to do everything on your plate, or can it be passed on to someone else? Knowing this will enable you to increase your effectiveness.
Give yourself permission to rejuvenate.
Rejuvenation means to “make fresh or new again, to restore to youthful vigor.” Work takes energy, and you need to give yourself permission to restore that energy. Think about what renews you—it’s often doing something totally different from who you are all day at work, or who you think you should be in the world. For example, if you’re a straight-laced, suit-wearing professional like an attorney, you might rejuvenate by stepping into a completely different persona and riding your Harley over the weekend. If you’re someone who works with people all week, like a realtor, a restaurateur, or a retail sales clerk, you might re-energize by reading a book at home alone. If you use your mind to solve problems at work like a manager, a business owner, or an engineer, getting immersed in a TV show that takes your mind somewhere else might be just what you need.
Other ways to manage overwhelm and job-related stress can include working with a coach to come up with specific strategies for your work and life situation. You can also learn a relaxation technique like mindfulness meditation, or a skill like conflict resolution or time management. Putting some energy into de-stressing and taking care of yourself will not only benefit your health, it will also improve your capacity to be more productive and happier on the job and in your life.9