December marks a season of increased excitement, hustle, bustle, and…stressssssss. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way – how in the world is there SO. MUCH. TO. DO?!? Oh yeah, I remember now: Basically, December is the month that we get to back 4.5 weeks of work into 3 weeks. It’s making sense now.
This year, in the aftermath of producing my Craft Business Bootcamp, launching the Beta testing of the course (running now), regularly blogging, email updates, coaching, and re-launching my own photography studio, I’m pretty much going crazy with December here. Of course, I absolutely love having Christmas of to spend with my family, but gearing up for that time makes me feel like I’m losing my grip on sanity. Do you ever feel this way? Keep reading. There’s hope – I promise!
Now, my life is a serial affair of poor stress management. Did you know stress literally kills? It’s true. Studies from the American Institute of Stress has some pretty gnarly statistics on Stress: It costs American $300 Billion in stress reduction produces and services, and studies prove that stress is responsible for a whopping 60% of a.l.l. disease and medical conditions in America. I find that pretty scary. And yet I can totally see how this is true in my own life.
In the wake of my own crazy health issues, I’ve had to relearn stress management in a major way. Contrary to my activator/achiever personality, I’ve had to completely rework my priorities. Health and rest come first. Always. No matter how busy I am or how much I want to get done. And that’s just the way it goes.
What I am here to tell you today is this: You c.a.n. manage stress, AND be productive. It’s totally possible. It takes a great deal of intentionality, yes. You have to commit to new habits that rewire your lifestyle. But you can live a life that is not overcome by stress.
Here are 3 Habits I’ve worked into my routine so that Monday (and every day) isn’t so brutal on my stress scale:
1. Map out the week on Sunday. I have a weekly calendar that enables me to see the overview of my week and everything in it. On Sunday, I write down everything I want to accomplish in my week, and then assign different dates to those projects. When every day of the week is sharing a to-do list, it doesn’t feel like any one day is responsible for the Mt. Everest of action steps. This is the greatest freedom you’ll have as you face the week!
2. Reinforce your Daily priorities in front of you, to keep your focus. I have been using the Daily Designer, daily worksheet pdf on my iPad. I track the top priorities, meals, due dates and projects from this fantastic planner. I allow myself to prioritize the top 3 things I must do at the expense of everything else. It’s annoying when some days I can’t get it all done, but at least with my top priorities accomplished, I know I’ve been productive. This has forced me to realize that it’s pretty unrealistic to “do everything.” With a daily job title of wife, coach, friend, mentor, writer, photographer, marketer, and worshiper, I can’t expect to wear every hat, every day. It’ll kill me. And it will kill you. How do I know this? Well, my diet consists of 10 foods right now from stress induced conditions, so its safe to say you can take my word for it.
3. Seize 10-60 minutes a day, doing absolutely nothing. Believe it or not, I’m not kidding about this. I’ve learned that after I spend 6 hours in work, I have to take a step back and simply breathe. I might pray. I may listen to an audio book. I may take a nap or a bath. I know, this makes it sound like I live at a resort – you ain’t got time for that right? Well to be honest, after losing my health I finally understand that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything (thanks Mom and Dad). So really, you can’t afford not to take this time to rest. Daily. Recharge your batteries, take a deep breathe, and life is so much better. You’ll have more energy, drink less coffee, and benefit from an increase in focus. Try it and prove me wrong (yes I’m double, dog, daring you!)
Ultimately, we Americans are horrible at taking a moment to smell the roses. Yes, we are crazy productive, we get things done. But in the Bible, Jesus asked a question that I believe is relevant to us : “What does it benefit you, if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Stress attacks your soul. Stress robs you of your joy. And as you are responsible to take care of your body, your soul, and your spirit, you have to take action to protect yourself against the destruction Stress can produce.
Re-work these habits into your life and I promise you, Monday’s won’t seem so bad after all. Even in December.
Oh, and I just had to tell you a secret: Next week I’m releasing a tool that will help you photographers and creatives get all prepped up for your best 2015! I’m so excited I just had to share! You don’t want to miss it, so be sure to sign up for my email list!