Remember, Remember the 5th of November – Stress Awareness Day

Manage your time

National Stress Awareness day in 2014 is today, 5th November. For people who don’t like shocks or who have children desperate to hold sparklers, you are probably only too aware of stress. For all of us the run up to Christmas tends to be stressful – whether it is the extra things that need doing, the expectation of what you want to do, the cost, your family, the dark nights or the inevitable sniffles – it can all increase your stress.

For this year’s Stress Awareness Day the International Stress Management Association are asking you to:

“… stop and think about what is causing stress in your life and do something little or big to make a positive  change in your life.”

Manage your time

Make time for yourself

Whether it be in business or in your home life, stress is inevitable – indeed sometimes you need stress to make sure you meet that deadline or close the sale. But you can’t live with stress all the time. If you are continually stressed it affects your ability to function: you can’t sleep, you’ve no motivation, you lose your appetite and that becomes a downward spiral that ultimately leads to time off work, medicine etc.

If you look at the causes of stress and make small changes, you can stop yourself getting into that spiral.

Here are some areas to look at and things you can change.

  1. Make a list – there is something very satisfying about putting a great big line through completed tasks. I always have a list at work on my CRM system, but at busy times like the run up to Christmas I have a home list too. Around exam times my daughter and I came up with a list of all the things she needed to do to get into University and pinned it on the wall. The only thing she didn’t achieve was the saving money bit!
  2. Delegate – this is particularly important in business or at work. You have to learn to let go. Delegate those mundane but important tasks (invoices, databases, cold calling) or tasks that takes you ages but an expert will do in minutes (websites, presentations.) This frees up your time to do what only you can do OR have a life away from work. 1 hour per week can make a difference.
  3. Ask for Help – this is slightly different to delegating as this tackles things in your home life. For instance, if you are organising a party ask family members or friends to help out – perhaps with food or with sending invitations. Many people are flattered to be asked.
  4. Prioritise – focus on what is important. Does it really matter if you don’t hand-make all your Christmas cards? Will anyone notice if you’ve bought your cake and will they mind? Do you have to travel 2 hours for a meeting or can you have the conversation by ‘phone?
  5. Switch off social media – we can all waste hours on Facebook and twitter. Set yourself times for looking at it. During the work day just have ten minutes at coffee time and in the evening decide you will switch off after a certain time. Equally you don’t need to look at emails every time one pings into the in-tray. Set times for checking your emails.
  6. Have work-free times – I am very precious about my spare time. I hardly look at the computer on a weekend and my mobile phone is right at the bottom of my handbag so I can switch off from work. If you have to take your ’phone or laptop away with you, decide you will look at it just once a day. The world will go on if you are out of reach for two weeks and you can always get some holiday cover if necessary.
  7. Manage Expectations – if you are a business owner you need to manage your clients expectations. If you are really busy and you get a new request for work say that you will not be able to start it until next week/month. If your boss is giving you more work ask them what is the priority and request sensible time scales. At home you need to manage expectations too – children always expect you to do everything NOW. You do also need to say no sometimes, it is hard, but I’ve found it quite liberating.
  8. Live a healthy lifestyle – cycle or walk when you can – park further from the office to get more fresh air. Stop having lunch at your desk. Take healthy snacks to work. Get up from your desk frequently. Set yourself lifestyle targets – it doesn’t have to be running a marathon!
  9. Find a sounding board – once you’ve identified the area of stress, discuss it. It could be your other half, but in both business and in your personal life an independent person can be such a help. There are plenty of coaches available, but often people you meet socially or via your work can be a really good sounding board. I run with someone who for the first 15 minutes or so just gets everything from the week of her chest and it makes her feel much better.

Red Kite Services offers temporary and permanent support for small businesses who need to delegate some of their services and I am very good at lists! I can also recommend the following coaches:

Lifestyle Coach – Nicky at Life Without Limits

Business Coach – Ros at Action Coach





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