So many details competing for attention—meetings, emails, projects…and so little time. It is discouraging, overwhelming, and disheartening. No matter how hard we try, we can never, ever get it all done. We just keep getting more.
I tried and it almost killed me. I learned that no matter how many hours I put in, I couldn’t do it all, and was determined to work smarter—what were the right things to get my objectives done, rather than work on everything that came along.
To decide what is really important and what is just getting in the way, step back to get a clearer view of what is on your plate. David Allen writes in his book, “Getting Things Done,” list everything work-related, personal, or community focused to sort out what requires your attention now, what can be dealt with later, delegated to someone else, or unceremoniously dumped. This takes a while but is well worth it. It gets it out of your head, off of those sticky notes that get lost, and on to one list that can be dealt with more easily.
Now that you have your list, I suggest using these questions as a guideline for further action.
- How does each item impact the successful completion of my commitments and goals?
- What can I eliminate because it keeps sinking to the bottom of my list and has just become an annoyance when I see it, or it just does not have any impact?
- What requests can I say no to?
As you begin to focus on the right things, not only will you feel in control and more confident and less stressed, others will notice too. Worked for me. It can work for you too.
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Stress doesn’t create sickness and it doesn’t kill. How you react to it does. It’s the amount of pressure you put on yourself…what should be done, has to be done, or must be done, rather than what you can realistically do or want to do.
If you are feeling exhausted, anxious, and stretched beyond your capacity, your body is giving you a wake-up call you cannot afford to ignore. Over time, without ways to cope with everything on your plate, you could find yourself seriously ill. Not to mention, miserable in the present.
Even though successful people have a strong sense of what they want to achieve, they know that in order to thrive, they must incorporate at least one or two coping strategies—quick fixes that reduce stress and anxiety in the moment that promotes health, clear thinking, and peak performance. Let’s look at one very important coping mechanism.
The Simplest Coping Strategy Ever—Breathing!
We have to breathe, right? How are you breathing right now? Taking in full, deep breaths or shallow, small breaths? When you are stressed, you breathe shallowly from the chest. This automatically tenses muscles and reduces oxygen, causing exhaustion, general anxiety, sleeplessness, and headaches. Breathing from the diaphragm relaxes muscles automatically and sends lots of oxygen to the brain to function at top performance.
There are many Yoga breathing exercises, but I have found the following works extremely well. It has lowered blood pressure in a frightened cancer patient and reduced road rage in another.
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 which expands your lungs, inhaling that much-needed oxygen to the brain.
- Hold your breath for 7 counts, which stops the adrenaline rush.
- Exhale for 8 counts, which rids your lungs of toxins.
- Repeat until you feel relaxed—usually a minimum of two or three times or as many times as needed.
At first you may find your lungs do not want to inflate much. Your lungs will expand a little more each time you do this technique. As with exercise, start out easy so you don’t hyper-ventilate.
Feel the difference!
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