Betty, a working mother, says, “I have so much stuff cluttering the countertops, I can’t squeeze one more thing onto that space and can’t stand the thought of preparing another meal.” Bill, a busy entrepreneur, says, “I can’t find the top of my desk now, how can I find time for all the extras expected of me with such a reduced workforce?” Both are worried and feel the burden of stress.
Have you ever felt like this? Are you on overload before you begin your day? No one seems to escape the ever-growing stress epidemic. While some daily stress is the norm, the added pressures of world chaos, financial concerns, increased job expectations and hectic scheduling magnifies the intense feelings of helplessness.
Compounding the usual stressors tenfold is the financial crisis facing so many. A FreeScore.com’s 2010 year-end survey found that the average American in debt spends 99 hours monthly worrying about debt and only 2.6 hours on financial planning and budgeting. Carrie Coghill, director of consumer education for FreeScore.com indicated that many Americans in debt are frozen in their tracks when it comes to managing finances …they are concerned but take little action. The report summary showed that on average, consumers spent 3.3 hours a day, or roughly 14% of a full day, worrying/thinking about debt.
If one is spending more than three hours per day worrying about finances, how many more hours are spent worrying about the hundreds of others things that can go wrong in a day? It’s no wonder there is a stress epidemic facing society today.
Stop Worrying and Take Action: The more people focus on the things they feel out of control about instead of taking action, the further stressed they become and the bigger their problems loom on the horizon. It doesn’t take many extra stressors in one’s life to drop you of balance and into a chaotic frenzy that creates more stress.
Get Rid of It: If physical clutter is standing in your way, simplify your life and get rid of it. The first step is making the decision to stop focusing on the problem and change. Taking action and actually doing it is step two.
To unclutter your surroundings and make your life easier, start by sorting all your piles of “stuff” that has accumulated into three boxes. Label box one “TRASH,” box two “future” and box three “now.” The “now” box will have only things you must attend to over the next seven days.
Everything else goes either into the “trash” or “future” boxes. Sort through your “stuff” quickly and eliminate what you don’t need, want, or use as part of your daily home or work activities. Place into the “future” box all that is not current and does not need your immediate attention but will in the near future. Everything else goes into “trash” and is disposed.
It doesn’t matter what you are sorting through, what is important is having a plan to move forward and then taking the necessary action. Not only have you taken care of the clutter on your counters, tables and desk but you have also made room for new energy to enter, which will motivate and energize you and reduce stress.
Stop Worrying – Prepare: The more time you spend worrying the less time you’ve spent on solving the problem. In addition, the more time you spend worrying the more you attract what you do not want. If you are facing financial doom, worrying about it three hours a day will not make the problem go away or get any better. There are many ways to overcome financial difficulty but worrying is not one of them.
To unclutter your thinking, use a yellow tablet and a pen (or your computer) to list the things you worry about that cause you the most stress. Review the list to see which ones you can actually do something about right now, and which are totally out of your control. For example, you may be very worried about a terminally ill grandparent or friend, but helping them may be out of your control so it should not remain on the list. You may also be worried about your finances or your heavy workload; those are in your control and should stay on the list.
Once you’ve eliminated the items out of your control, list each item on a separate page, then one at a time quickly write down all of the solutions that come to mind. In the case of financial issues you might start with things like: getting a second job, finding a higher paying job, reducing expenses, consolidating your expenses, consulting a financial advisor.
Use this process for each item and rank the solutions in order of importance starting with number one being the most important. Then take action. To succeed and maintain focus, work on no more than three items at time. If they are huge items, perhaps focus on only one item at a time. This is your action plan or roadmap to less worry, less stress and more prosperity.
Focus on Short Term Goals: Usually the experts recommend fixing your eyes on longer term goals but when you are under such stress and worried about everything it is almost impossible to accomplish anything long term so take little steps that you can handle one at a time. The result: you will worry less and reduce your stress levels.
To end the stress epidemic in your life, create your roadmap today and take action; you will overcome it, enjoy life more and prosper.
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.