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Less Stress and More Time for Your Family

There’s one thing that none of us can buy, even Bill Gates, and that is time. But, we all wish we had more. What’s the best way to manage the time crunch? We all know the answer: take a look at what we’re spending our time doing and assess what we wish we had time to do.

Are you …

Overcommitted?

  • Set priorities for your time: family, work, community.
  • Only volunteer for or accept additional responsibilities that fit your goals.

Overworked?

  • Don’t procrastinate—complete work as it comes.
  • Organize your home and office so you can clean as you go. Avoid weekend overhauls as it takes away from family time.
  • List all your responsibilities and eliminate one if possible.
  • Ask for help and give help—it sets a good example for children.
  • Give your child responsibilities.
  • Complete household chores together. It is one of the best times to teach and have conversations with your child.

Overindulged?

  • Avoid buying too many things. The more you have, the more you have to take care of.
  • Even if you can afford it, don’t buy your child something every time you go in a store.
  • Avoid giving your child too many choices.
  • Set limits.

Overtired?

  • Put your children to bed on time and at the same time every day.
  • Turn off the TV and try to go to sleep every day at the same time.
  • Avoid quick “pick-me-ups” such as coffee, soda, and sweets.

Overstressed?

  • Realize that you cannot control how others act, but you can control how you react—this includes your reaction to your children.
  • Be the thermostat, not the thermometer.
  • Exercise!
  • Do something for yourself.

Stress Affects Your Health
Any stress that keeps occurring can lead to getting sick more often, problems concentrating, sleeping and eating, high blood pressure and heart disease, and anxiety, and depression. In other words, left alone, stress can be bad for both your physical and mental health. According to the AARP, a national organization for retired people, it’s important to get control of our stress before it controls us. Here are several steps you can take to help you get started:

Make a list. Think of the things that cause you the most stress. Write them down, along with the level of stress they cause and how they affect you.

Take control. Decide which things on your list you can do something about. Remember that you might not be able to control everything on your list. For instance, your children leaving home or traffic jams are the trying parts of life. Even though you can’t control these events, you can control how you react to them. Instead of getting worked up during morning rush hour traffic, use the time in your car to listen to a book on tape or a morning radio show. Even small changes can make a difference and help you feel more in control of your life.

Unload and learn to say “no.” If there are things at home or at work that you just can’t or don’t want to do, let them go—cross them off your list if you can. And don’t commit to new things just because you feel you have to. Say “no” to heading up that new project if you already have too many duties at work. Let someone else run the school fundraiser this year. Learning to say “no” may take some practice. It might feel uncomfortable at first. But taking on too much and failing is more stressful than “passing” on a request in the first place.

Work on shedding the “perfection impulse.” Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. For some things, doing an okay job is just fine.

Practice setting limits. The key to setting limits is to first set priorities. Decide what is most important for your family and you, and set time aside for those things, such as family meals, fun time, or retirement planning. For everything that falls outside your priority list, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that would happen if I didn’t do this?” If you can live with the answer, then drop it from your “to do” list.

Learning to manage the stress in your life can help you live healthier and happier; enjoy your job, family, and friends more; and focus your energies on the things in life that really count.

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