Making Time to Manage Stress:
Five Tips for Easing Time Pressure
by Cynthia Lindner, MS
(631) 473-0405

Developing time management skills is one way to prevent Time Pressure from adding to unhealthy stress we may already have. The best way to prevent stress from becoming a health or emotional problem is to manage stress by both modifying our habits and changing the way we respond to situations we think are stressful.

With keeping this in mind, what is your experience in regard to time? Do you have the time to do the things you enjoy, or do you postpone your leisure activities for meeting work deadlines, and keeping appointments? Do you often feel so tired that you spend most of your spare time sleeping?

The many people who share this type of experience usually recognize feeling an increase in their stress levels, but ironically, they don't have the time to do the deep relaxation exercises that will help to reduce the unhealthy effects of stress. Feeling time pressure adds to the feelings of stress.

The pressure, it seems, is becoming the norm especially for women who work and raise a family. Fortunately, by using these tips even the busiest people can create extra time in the day to relax, have fun, and enhance their health.

Tip #1: Know What's Important
Every couple of weeks, or once a month, look at "the big picture", and consider what is really most important to you. How does that fit into your life now? Will it be important in the future?

Tip #2: Set Priorities
Keep a note book with a list of things to do, errands, chores, etc. Then rate the importance of the items listed in terms of your overall goals, and also the goals shared by your family, work group, also consider your education obligations. For each entry ask your self, "What would happen if I didn't do this? Is this task worth the investment of my time?"

Tip #3: Make Some Space
Get rid of unnecessary paper and clutter./ Arrange things you save in a more orderly fashion so that you can find them faster.

Tip #4: Break Big Jobs Into Small Steps
If you're putting a project off because it seems overwhelming, break it up into smaller manageable steps and take each step one at a time.

Tip #5 Change Your Negative Thoughts
Notice your thought pattern as you approach (or avoid) a task. Listen for negative thoughts: "I don't feel like doing this. I'm not capable of doing such a hard assignment. I always miss the deadline anyway." Substitute more positive ideas and self-talk. "I will feel much better when this is done. Once I begin this project I'll feel more like doing it. If I do a little each day, I'll be able to finish the project."

After about one month of using these techniques evaluate your progress. Ask yourself these questions: Am I accomplishing more? Do I feel more in control of the time I have? Am I feeling happier? If you are able to answer yes to any of these questions then you are experienceing some success-- keep up the good work. Many people, however, find making these changes on their own to be difficult or impossible. People who seek out the help of a professional have much greater success in making the changes and having the changes last for a good long while.
Courtesy of the Port Jefferson Counseling Center, NY

1997-2011 by C. Lindner, all rights reserved.