Posted on Jul 23rd, 2006

We live in a remarkable time; communication, entertainment, commerce, and work are evolving at a pace unheard of just 5 years ago. Multiply this with the need to stay current, to learn new languages of business and technology, to absorb information bombarding us from all directions and what do you get? A searing measure of stress added to adult lives already complex with too many responsibilities and personal goals.

My clients, generally small business owners, tell me their stress comes from too little time, too many responsibilities and not knowing where to turn first. Sound familiar? Stress can cuddle up and become your unwanted companion. So, here are some very lo-tech tips to navigate our modern world and minimize stress.

1. How do I handle everything on my plate?

Here’s a novel idea: don’t. Learn to selectively accept requests; being asked doesn’t mean you have to say ‘yes.’ Use your power to choose. And remember: if you continue to over extend yourself, you’ll minimize your ability to handle those responsibilities you truly value.

Seek support. Find at least one person who will really listen to you without judgment. The right family member, friend, or coach could be invaluable.

Stop trying to control every aspect of your life. We never really know what will occur even in the next moment. Take actions that move you toward your intended outcome and know you will handle whatever materializes.

2. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

You think so? We all have the same 24 hours. Consider how you spend them; is there something you can delegate or give up? Make an hourly calendar of your week - be honest. What‘s draining the time you’d prefer to devote elsewhere?

3. How can I avoid over-reacting when I’m stressed?

Envision your best outcome and write it down. What steps will make it real? I know you’ve handled many stressful events in your life. How? Was there something that can help your current situation? Even if you didn’t choose what’s happened now, you can choose your response.

Take time for relaxation and healthful living practices. Don’t use the upset in part of your life as an excuse to abandon healthy routines. These can anchor and support you as other elements of your life are altered. You’ll cope more easily.

Connect with your spiritual side. Use prayer, meditation, reflect on spiritual literature. In the writer’s words you may find an experience that mirrors your own.

Consider minimizing stress. What activities, situations or people literally suck the energy right out of you? You know what they are - why are you tolerating them? How you can confront and resolve those lingering circumstances and get rid of them?

4. What if I’m afraid I just can’t do the things I must?

The most insidious obstacle in our lives can be our own self-view. Ironically, we’re often faced with circumstances that reveal the hero in us, yet our own view about our value and capability can be more flattening than a speeding locomotive.

If you find you’re unable to replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I can’, try this: Get in touch with 3 people whose opinions you respect. Ask them to email you weekly, with one thing they admire and respect about you. Don’t ask mom or your significant other.

What you learn about yourself may be surprising; this new self- awareness will be powerful. Nothing is more fundamental to overcoming obstacles than the belief that in fact, you can. Use “I can” as your starting point and you’ll find every one of these suggestions much easier to put into practice.

Andrea Feinberg, M.B.A., graduate of Coach University and a Certified Strategic Business Leadership Coach, is the president of Coaching Insight. Andrea’s clients identify and maximize the untapped potential in their underused intangible assets so they enjoy enhanced marketing outcomes, more productive and engaged employees, effective goal setting and, occasionally, time off. For more information, please visit http://www.coachinginsight.com She welcomes your comments at 631.642.7434 or andrea@stressmanagementarticles.com.

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