Combatting Stress – Step 4 – Prioritising things Effectively

 

So I have already covered the importance of getting organised, avoiding my negative habits and keeping a journal to combat stress. This all involves good time management, scheduling, willpower and self reflection but it is getting somewhere. It isn’t easy to break the habits of a lifetime in a matter of days and I am realisitic that this process will take time but it isn’t impossible. And surprisingly there are already benefits:

  1. I’m feeling in control: It’s a good feeling knowing I’m taking charge. The unpredictable nature of eczema can be a struggle, but taking control of our triggers is us taking our life back and that sure does feel good. Stress is a factor for me and here I am trying to make the stresses in my life minimal because let’s face it I create most of my everyday stressors myself and so I can minimise them too. Taking that control is helping me focus my energy away from my stresses into something more productive.
  2. I’m finally keeping a schedule. This has helped me to factor in uni, work, special events and me time better.
  3. I’m Reflecting on myself: Now I have found that this process has helped me to reflect on what I want, where I am going and what is important as well as figuring out potential stressors

 

This has led to this post…. between keeping my journal, organising my time and reflecting on my habits I realised something. My ability to prioritise effectively is sometimes compromised due to some of my habits. Now these habits aren’t bad they are quite positive traits of mine in a sense but when I don’t consider other factors in my life whilst carrying these out, they become a problem.

These habits include:

1) Not being able to say no
2) Feeling bad for others, empathy
3) Putting others needs before my own

My habits in regards to other people seem to cause me stress because they can lead to me taking on too much and feeling overwhelmed. I find myself prioritising things which aren’t really necessary because I don’t want to let others down or I feel I’m needed and this can lead to the added stress of trying to please others before I can achieve what I want. Pleasing others whilst it is hindering my own wellbeing and prospects ( I.e. Like my studies) is causing unnecessary stress and I need to prioritise more effectively.

Now these habits can be okay within reason. It’s nice to help others, support them and is important when those closest to you need you. However, if you’re like me, you may find you end up taking too much on and in the end you’re pleasing others which yes can be great, but at the same time you’re not really pleasing yourself.

Here’s an example:

I began an MSc course in September. Now before that I used to tutor children with autism and also had a research job. My MSc is research based and therefore I kept that job on because it’s important to me, my career development and future plans. However I also kept on the tutoring because the family needed a tutor and couldn’t find another. Plus the other tutor had just left and so I felt bad that no one would be around for the little girl…

Now I had uni once a week, I did research one day a week and tutored three days a week…When I began to near my uni deadlines this December I found that I was feeling stressed because I was occupied for 5 days of the week so had to compete my work mainly on weekends and evenings which was a downer because it meant I had less time for socialising and myself. In addition, I felt bad for not attending tutoring due to extra workshops and lectures and so went in on the week of a major deadline. As you can see there are so many negatives linked to this situation caused by lack of prioritising well enough.

Note I got the work handed in but I wasn’t pleased with myself. I hadn’t given it my all because I was working so much around a full time MSc and I was angry at myself because my studies should be my priority. Now don’t get me wrong it wasn’t a bad piece of work (ill let you know if that’s true when I get the results! ) but it was the fact I caused extra stress because of taking on too much and not prioritising effectively.

It was definitely stressful and I wanted to quit tutoring but i just couldn’t bring myself to let them down. Now it hit December and I realised I’m just letting myself down because it’s just too much. The organisation and keeping a journal steps of reducing stress helped me to realise just how much I was taking on which wasnt healthy for my wellbeing. Putting others needs first was taking a toll so I quit the tutoring for good. I finally thought about my priorities and how to handle them better.

Yes I may have let someone else down in the process however in the bigger scheme of things and realistically nothing terrible was going to happen. They’d replace my with someone new and so in hindsight I was causing stress for myself when it wasn’t necessary. Feeling bad led me to stress over uni and feel overwhelmed when If I’d just prioritised well from the start it would have worked better.

So now. …I have begun to prioritise what’s most important more effectively. . Handing in my notice was actually such a relief as my studies next semester are even more full on and now I know I really can give it my all. In addition I have the leeway to do research which is more related to my future if the opportunity arises.

I hope my example helped to express how good habits can sometimes turn negative when they interfere with what is really important. Prioritising effectively can reduce stress as we have the focus and time to concentrate on what is important and what isn’t.

I feel I’m starting the new year in a good place and am positively working towards reducing stress in my life through simple steps. Now that can’t be bad for my eczema can it.

Steps to prioritise effectively

1) Keep a track of everything you make time for, this will help you to see where your time is going (Keeping a planner really helps here!)

2) Are you feeling stressed at the moment? List what you’re worried about and ways to solve this. I.e. Your worried you’re not going to get the presentation for work or school some in time, to solve this you need to make more time for prep. What can you take out of your schedule to factor this in? This will help you to figure out what really is important to you.

3) Reflect on your ambitions, your wants, your needs. List what is most important to you be that work wise or even spending time with your family. Balance of work and leisure is important so don’t make this all work based! For example, seeing my boyfriend once a week is important just as getting my uni work done weekly is.

4) Now look at your schedule and worries, are there things on here which aren’t important to you and are taking up space and causing stress unnecessarily? Obviously things you must do cannot be helped.

5) Now what can you give up to make space for your priorities? For me tutoring was not important in the sense of career progression hence it was taking up time that could be spent on the things I was worrying over like getting my uni work done.

Hope this helps you in your attempts to prioritise effectively!! It really does help to focus your energies and reduce the unnecessary stress caused by ineffective management of what’s most important in your life.

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