by Chris Watson
Stress galvanizes feelings of being rushed. Stress can be both acute and chronic, causing reactions to everyday issues and building up over time, driving us to feel harried, forced, and even inadequate. “People stress about money, the economy, their family, their health,their job or lack of one,” claims Deb Olejownick, Owner of DJC Core Consulting. “Although the stresses are specific we carry them as worry, consciously or unconsciously, into every aspect of our lives.” Olejownick would know. As a Certified Professional Coach, her organization helps companies and individuals deal with stress and how to recover from professional and personal burnout.
“When stress is working behind the scenes people stop communicating,” says Olejownick, adding “which leads to conflict at work and at home. Then a cycle sets in: worry, rush, stress, argue, worry, regret and repeat. At that point, most people feel their lives hit overdrive.”
It is no wonder we repeat these cycles. Cell phones, data tablets, email, text messages, and an ever growing list of social media sites keep us in constant contact. Unfortunately, much of this contact reminds us of things left to be done and prodding us away from things that will add value and ease to our lives.
Identifying Life’s Tilt
Most of us recognize two kinds of stress. Challenge stress upsets our routine; recovering from an injury, change in job, illness in the family or even something like a flooded basement or vehicle in need of repair. These issues arise with varying frequency and often when least expected.
Motivational stress involves planned changes, ultimately leading to improvement. A move to a different house, a change of jobs, planned retirement, even making New Year’s resolutions can cause motivational stress. These stresses can be positive and life affirming.
The problem for most of us is balance. “We’ve trained our minds to be in multiple places at once,” explains Olejownik. “This can lead us to, not just feel but actually, be unbalanced in our day to day activities.” If we are already feeling harried, trying to make multiple changes or changing too fast can undermine the anticipated benefit from the intended change, creating chaos, running from one activity to another without really being present or effective.
Inner and Outer Space
How can we restore the balance that we craved which gave use to creating resolutions in the first place? “It is absolutely necessary to give yourself emotional, physical, and mental space,” says Olejownik emphatically.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA), to manage stress and the anxious feeling of being rushed, “take a time-out”. Taking time out, with yoga or guided meditation can be effective, but it doesn’t have to be complex. Gain emotional space by removing yourself from the rush of daily life. Taking a walk, spending time with your pet, listening to music, or simply sitting quietly for a few moments by ourselves can go a long way. Making these “time outs” a priority dramatically increases our effectiveness and, more importantly, our positive attitude.
The physical space where you spend a good quantity of time is a big part of the equation. Constantly seeing the same stack of papers on the table, the same pillow on the chair, or the same coffee cup by the coffee maker are constant reminders of the daily routine. The “sameness” in our surroundings can become reminders of what we haven’t done. Simple changes in our physical surroundings provide a feeling of refreshment.
Mental space relates to things that we want to try or learn. Projects long forgotten or hobbies we want to explore, being more active in organizations, fixing up a room, learning a new skill, and reading a book that has long been “on my list” are great examples of mental space. Mental space is easily neglected when we feel rushed. After all, who has time to crochet an afghan in this day and age? “You do” if you prioritize and take the needed and deserved mental space.
Time in Perspective
The average lifespan for Americans has reached 78.8 years. That is, roughly, 28,000 days. On that scale, committing to enhanced emotional, physical, and mental space seems less wasteful and more of an investment.
Resolutions for the New Year can involve detaching from rigid, metric driven goals and, instead, involve freeing us from the frenetic feeling of being driven by life. There is a general desire to slow down.
“You don’t have to be in a rush,” concludes Olejownik. “Practice pausing.” She then smiles, pausing briefly for emphasis. “Give yourself the gift of space.”