I’ve noticed with many of my clients that they become stressed when they think about all the chores and duties they have ahead of them. It goes something like this:
“First I have to be up by 7am and get ready to be out of the house by 8.15 am. Then I have to make it through the traffic to work. I have a meeting at 11am but also have to fit in loads of phonecalls and I don’t know if I will have time to get them all done. I don’t know how I will squeeze lunch in as I have a report to write and I know two people are trying to pin my down for urgent meetings….etc”
When we consider all that we have to do all at once, it can seem like we have an insurmountable mountain ahead of us and can lead us to feeling panicky. Anticipatory stress comes from the fear of having to much to do and not being able to cope.
Instead of looking at everything that has to be done, break the day/week/month down into smaller pieces. This is called “chunking” and can help reduce and minimise anticipatory stress.
Deal with the morning separately from the afternoon and/or evening. Anxiety arises from the threat seeming overwhelming and our belief that we will not cope. If this feeling of being overwhlemed continues indefinitely however, it might be that you seriously need some proper time out. When last did you have some time off? We all need to have a few days in a row (at least a week, two weeks ideally for a proper rest) to re-assess and recharge. If you constantly feel tired and overwhelmed it may be that you are burnt out.
Have a look at what brings you positive energy (things, people who inspire you and leave you feeling happy and energised) and what drains you – negative energy. This could be toxic people, a bad job or a bad relationship to name a few. When we are out of balance and have too much negative energy in our lives, it’s common sense that we are going to feel tired and stressed. As much as possible, realign what you can to increase positive energy and reduce negative energy. Balance is key in counteracting stress.
Mindfulness techniques (I will write about this in a future post) can also be extremely useful in reducing anticipatory stress. We all tend to live in our heads too much, worrying about the future and learning to remain in the present moment is a fantastic skill that can allow you to really be present in your life now.
Stress is a part of life but we can learn to manage it effectively. Try the above tips and book that holiday!