We live in an incredibly fast-paced and complicated world where more and more of our lives require clear thinking and sharp minds. Lucky for me my brain works pretty well. But I noticed some time ago that sometimes my brain abandons me for parts unknown…and at the most inconvenient times, even more so recently. I tried many techniques to “clear” my mind with little or no improvement that I could see or feel. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t coming apart at the seams but the incidences of not remembering why I walked upstairs and what exactly I was looking for were becoming more frequent. Was it just age? Maybe. But growing evidence tells us that it’s not necessarily about that. Maybe my recent lapses were more about my mental juggling while on a high wire act.
You see, I have a job as an employee benefits professional. I own a business as well. I have family responsibilities including the raising of my 5 year old twin nieces and caring for my retired dad. I have four adult children whose lives I keep an eye on in spite of their insistence that they are grown ups and don’t need me to. (Yeah. Right. Motherhood is a lifetime sentence…uh I mean commitment.) I have my own health and fitness goals. Friends. Continuing education and business building activities…and a partridge in a pear tree!
Not all that long ago the world was encouraged to MULTITASK. That is to do several things at the same time. And practically everyone jumped on that band wagon including me. This was supposed to allow us to cram as much into our already busy days as possible. Guess what? Turns out we may get more done but it’s probably not nearly as efficient as we thought and more importantly to me. It increases stress in our lives and in our bodies. In fact many researchers now believe the human brain doesn’t actually multitask very well.
According to ABOUT.COM PSYCHOLOGY:
“Multitasking can reduce productivity by approximately 40-percent according to some researchers.”
“Switching from one task to another makes it difficult to tune out distractions and can cause mental blocks that can slow down your progress.”
I don’t know about you, but missing deadlines or rather the fear of missing a deadline causes me a great deal of stress. Now while I accept that I can’t avoid all stress or stressful situations there are some things you and I can do to lessen it:
- Focus. Concentrate. Multi-tasking may seem more productive but dividing your attention can be very stressful. Limit Distractions and interruptions when possible.
- Don’t procrastinate. Use a paper planner or electronic one to plan your tasks each week. Seeing scheduled tasks on paper can keep you focused on what needs to be done. Break a large project into small steps, and set a deadline for each one. Meeting deadlines can eliminate stress.
- Schedule your “Me” Time. Self care like a mani/pedi, a massage, a facial, journaling or just being alone with your own thoughts shouldn’t be negotiable or pushed aside. Make an appointment with yourself…and keep it! You’re worth it!
- Just say “no”. Simple. Don’t commit to something that will overload or overwhelm you.
- Pray. Meditate. Breathe. Spend time daily centering your thoughts and your heart on God or your personal belief system. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly.
- Schedule time to have fun. Put it down on your schedule. Make it a priority.
- Move your Tail regularly. Physical activity can be the best stress relief. Find something you enjoy doing – run, walk, jog, practice yoga, Pilates, dance, cycling, hiking, climbing, etc.
- Talk it out. Sometimes the best stress-reducer is simply sharing your stress with someone close to you. Make sure you have a support system of trusted people. If you don’t have one look form an organized support group or start one.
- Stay positive. Remember that everyone has good and bad days. Think positively. Develop your own PRIDE Positivity Protocol.
- Reward Yourself. When you make progress toward or complete a project, celebrate. Enjoy a healthy snack. But the best rewards are non-food related. Schedule some more “Me” time. Give yourself that spa treatment you always wanted to try. Call a member of your PRIDE and take in a movie or a show or shoe shop.