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Time for the Important Things in Life

Perhaps like me, you take on more than you can handle.  It isn’t that I can’t say No – I just want to do lots of things.  I keep adding without eliminating and continue to readjust and refine my schedule to fit everything in. 

I’m okay until the unexpected is thrown into the mix, like having the oil changed in my car, sending a get well card, taking time to call a neighbor who has just lost her spouse….   

As I go over the activities I am involved in, there are few I want to eliminate. So how do I keep stress from accumulating?

First, consolidate. 

For example, I always take some kind of work with me when I leave for appointments.  While waiting for my car to be serviced, I read some professional articles I had put on hold.  Or I close my eyes and purposefully relax all the parts of my body. Singing in two chorales, I use driving time to listen to practice CDs and vocalize or think about articles and blogs I want to write. 

Second, refine work habits. 

Regulating my time requires some unwanted self-discipline. However, I am in charge of what I want to accomplish and I know I do not accomplish much when I feel stressed. Consistent time management is necessary to accomplish my goals. If I religiously maintain a work schedule and work on one project at a time. This can be a challenge for me since my mind is going in many directions at once and requires focus. 

Third, break up long routines. 

Working out of my home office allows me the opportunity to periodically take a break to do something totally different. I complete household chores, or I do my physical therapy exercises or go for a walk. 

Fourth, schedule R/R times. 

After a certain hour in the day, I “leave” my office and my “to do” lists.  It is my time to vegetate or do fun things. It is as important in each day as work. During the day, when the pressures of time and job completion begin to rise, I take immediate steps to reduce that by taking a mini time out, closing my eyes, breathing deeply and slowly and thinking about something positive and soothing.  I often relax by listening to my Relaxation CD.

Fifth,  post and use affirmations daily. 

Affirmations are a regular part of my everyday life. I have posted helpful bible verses and statements of motivation and encouragement around my home.  I affirm my ability to make choices that are right for me.  I admit my shortcomings as well as my strengths. It enables me to reach out to others and is the beginning of learning new exciting things about life. I look for and incorporate ways to laugh as often as possible. And I can leave my office with things undone and know that I am the one who puts unrealistic expectations on myself and what I do. 

Life is full and wonderful.   We can use our time more effectively to accomplish the things we want and let go of those things that are stressful.  We choose our schedules, self-regulation and purpose. God has given each of us many skills and talents and we can find the time to develop them.  

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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