In an average month, how often do you have a tough week? Stress management is often cited as a weakness for folks who are super busy. A good definition of stress is,
"the psychological and physical state that results when perceived demands exceed an individual's ability to cope with them"
The degree to which you are able to negotiate your sources of stress often determines your sense of a "good week". When things spin out of control, we stress more and things get worse.
Last week was rough for me. As I now look back on things, the following elements were present:
- Diet: I either skipped meals or ate too much junk.
- Sleep: Getting to bed after 11pm and then up at 5am didn't help.
- Fitness: One bike ride wasn't enough to keep my body nimble and alert.
- Time management: My calendar was an acquaintance rather than a companion.
- Family: As a result of each item mentioned above, I was not fully present for the needs of my wife and kids. Sure, I was there but not fully present- there's a big difference between the two.
- Projects list: What's a projects list?
When you have a tough week, it's good to look back and analyze the tip of the ice berg as I have done. Unfortunately, like all large blocks of ice, there is much more beneath the surface. How to rebound from all of this? Read on.
- Take care of your body. Pay attention to getting enough sleep, taking your vitamins, and eating well. Each of these is a "counter measure" to the stress that swirls around you. It's a jungle out there so be prepared for what comes your way. Every meal counts.
- Stay in your routine. Too often, people under stress give up on their habits and rituals and this is a big mistake. Get up at the same time every day during the week. Perfect your pre-sleeping rituals. Determine to be a person of excellent habits.
- Be attentive to your spirit every day. Taking time for prayer and meditation is known to be good for you on so many levels. Whether it's a journal entry, a quiet walk in the park or the reading of sacred texts, spiritual attentiveness pays off in big ways.
- Don't give up by Wednesday. I find that if I can tough it out through Wednesday, my week is salvaged. This is a pivotal day so hang in there on hump day. (read this post on the importance of building on Tuesday's success)
- Remember the famous quote from Jim Eliot. Missionary Jim Eliot had this to say, "Wherever you are, be all there." If you are at work, dig in and bust your butt. If at home with your family, leave work behind and play with your kids and tell your spouse that she's wonderful. Be fully present to the gifts around you.
- Give yourself something happy to anticipate. We know that it's good to look forward to something, whether a birthday or a favorite T.V. show. Build into your week little things to which you can look forward. A great cup of coffee, a trip to your favorite park, a special meal with a friend.
In all of this, it's worth noting that another 7 days will arrive on your doorstep next week. If you're not dealing well with stress, another opportunity will present itself. Don't be too hard on yourself and anticipate that you won't be perfect. The key is to keep moving forward.