Handling Stress in Your Life

Life moves fast.  Our culture of convenience has some nice features, but has also created an expectation that we are always available, always “on,” and ready able and willing to respond.  Instantly.

For example, its convenient to work from where we want when we want.  However, the countervailing expectation is that we will also work when others want us to as well.  Not doing so leads to missed “deadlines,” unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and stress.  If left unchecked, that can all be unhealthy on many different levels.

Some of the most entertaining ideas for “disconnecting” that I’ve heard include going back to a plain old telephone line–without voice mail and without call waiting.  Or better yet, declaring “email bankruptcy.”

On Amazon.com today there are 112,854 books on time management. Oddly, there are only 1,962 books for sale under the search “finding your purpose.” Drawing conclusions from the disparity is for another day; for now, let’s step back on stress.

I believe (from reading books, by Covey, McLean, and others) that our selves have four dimensions:  physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual. For me stress results when they are not in balance.

Note that “balance” doesn’t mean that they are all optimized, maxed out, although there is no doubt that there are some pursuits that can stimulate each dimension.  So the key to reducing stress is to identify the dimension that needs attention, and give some time and effort to that dimension. Here’s a handy little process I use.

  • Step one.  Recognizing that time management isn’t an end in and of itself.  For example, learning how to run four software programs on two monitors with three computers while walking at a treadmill desk in the back of your minivan on the way to an appointment (yours or someone else’s) probably won’t decrease your stress.  Its a tool, made to help you carve time out of life to figure out “what’s important,” a question that can be big or small all on its own.
  • Step two.  Rate yourself in those dimensions.  I aim for the beginning and end of each day.  I use a 1-3 scale (no decimals).
  • Step three.  Consider your lowest score, and think about what you could do to do to move that up–if even by only one.
  • Step four.  Make that item a priority for the day.
  • Step five.  Execute.
Here’s a few ideas in each of the dimensions, all of them ways to “disconnect:”
  • Physical.  Eat well, drink plenty of water, exercise.  A short walk in the middle of the day (or a nap) may work wonders.
  • Spiritual.  Pray.  Meditate.  Spend time in what author Chip McLean refers to as “the temple of silence.”
  • Intellectual.  Read good books that challenge your thinking.  Take a course.  Watch videos in an area of interest.  I even found one on the practice of law.
  • Emotional.  Connect with others, or yourself.  Volunteer, or simply help someone out.  Buy an animal.

It never seems like there is enough time.  But, when I engage this process I find that I generally do a better job for people I serve, family, clients, etc.

This publication and the information is intended to be general in nature. It is not legal advice, nor is it intended as such. You should consult with an attorney to determine how laws or decision impact your particular circumstances. 

About Chris McGrath

I'm a Carmel, Indiana business attorney providing business counsel, commercial litigation and mediation services based on over 20 years of experience. My firm is founded on a principle of supporting others' advancement and achievement, and my core values are service, passion, faith & loyalty.Chris McGrath's Google+ Profile