Raise your hand if by the end of the day you feel spent.
Between work, home, and life, the reality is most of us end up running for most of the day. Add in the fact that as women we often have a tough time saying “no” — it’s a recipe for chaos.
As Carl Pickett, PhD, a psychologist and author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Positive Discipline told WebMD, “a woman is often at risk of letting other people’s needs determine her limits, while her own needs are ignored.”
The bottom line is we are stressed.
And although some “intermittent” stress has been shown to increase productivity and help the brain adapt, chronic stress can impact your health and increase the risk of chronic obesity, heart disease and depression.
Of course we all want to feel more relaxed and calm – that’s a given. It’s difficult to know where to start, but we can help.
Here are five everyday habits that could be causing you unnecessary stress, with a few tweaks that will help you loosen up and feel better.
When you put something off, the suspense of getting started grows and grows. You don’t even enjoy the extra free time before you start working because you are agonizing about having to get started.
Instead of viewing whatever you are procrastinating doing as one huge task, try breaking it up into bite-size pieces. Make sure the first step is so small that it no longer seems daunting.
If you have been putting off getting in control of your credit card debt, for example, the first step might be to login to the credit card website and look at your balance. If you begin your day by getting started on a big task, you’ll be surprised how productive the rest of the day will be.
I know this habit oh so well. You leave yourself zero minutes for error in your jam-packed schedule and inevitably, something doesn’t go just right.
The subway is two minutes late, you make a wrong turn, or a call goes over and now you are running late for the rest of the day. The funny part is that like with any habit, we just continue doing it. It’s automatic.
Practice leaving some room in your schedule.
Five minutes extra can go a long way and save us from feeling like we are running to catch up the entire day. Those you are meeting will be thankful too when you actually make it on time!
When we are faced with a decision, big or small, we want to make the “right” choice. Sometimes research and due diligence help us choose wisely but regardless of the decision, it does us no good to spin our wheels for hours and it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.
Set a time limit for each decision and then cut yourself off.
You can analyze past decisions for growth and learning purposes but otherwise, don’t look back! Ruminating over what we could have said or done differently doesn’t change what happened and wastes precious energy and time. Setting a time limit and sticking to it will make decision-making a lot less stressful.
We make each decision as best you we with what information we have. What you know can change and develop as you learn more about a circumstance and get more comfortable with whatever you are doing.
Know that you are making the right choice for you in that moment and that’s all you can do! Second-guessing won’t change what is and can drive you crazy.
Trying to Be Perfect
Aiming to grow and be better is one thing but perfection is an impossible goal that isn’t going to happen.
Why spend time agonizing over the 1% that’s not perfect, rather than enjoying the success from the 99% we are doing well? Practice forgiveness and give yourself a break for imperfection.
If any of these habits sound like you, take small steps to change them and significantly reduce your stress. Be patient with yourself, especially you perfectionists out there.
It takes time to develop a new habit and applaud yourself for the positive change you are making to reduce stress for yourself and those around you.
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley is a money coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme where she demystifies the world of money and personal finance. Get her exclusive how-to guide “30 Days to Financial Bliss“ – free for GoGirl Finance readers.