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10 Things You Shouldn’t Do If You’re Stressed Out

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do If You’re Stressed Out

Stress can wreak havoc on your decision-making skills. Everyone has made a poor decision at some point because they were overwhelmed by life. Sometimes, those decisions pay off. More often then not, though, we’re prone to doing crazy things when we’re feeling stressed that only adds more stress later. Take a look at 10 things you absolutely should not do if you’re stressed out.

Rehash the issue with anyone who will listen

Do yourself and your friends a favor: don’t beat the proverbial dead horse. You’re stressed, they get it. Really, how many times can you discuss the same problem with the same people? Find one person who can be your sounding board and lay out the issue one time. Only go back to it if you’ve found new insight. By discussing it repeatedly, you’re not only driving your friends bonkers, you’re keeping the source of stress at the front of your mind. This makes it difficult for you to focus on new ideas.

Drown your troubles in a bottle

Alcohol is rarely a good answer to your woes. You can’t run away from your problems by forgetting them through a booze-induced blackout. The stress will still be there in the morning, along with nausea, a headache, and the sinking feeling that you did something you’re glad you don’t remember. This goes for drugs and over-eating too. Just say no.

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Dwell on it all night

Sleep is a precious commodity when you’re stressed out. It’s too tempting to lay in bed worrying all night long. Missing out on sleep can actually make you feel more stressed. Sleep deprivation can interfere with your ability to think clearly. You need your brain in optimal working condition to find the answer to resolve your stress.

Be afraid to say no

When you’re already stressed out, taking on more than you can handle makes it worse. Don’t be afraid to say no to a new project or a major favor. Give yourself a break to explore your own ideas. If you feel really bad about it, you can always resolve to help out later.

Take it out on others

Snapping at friends and family isn’t going to help reduce your stress. In fact, it will likely add to it. If you feel yourself gearing up for a fight, walk away. Friendships can recover from time apart a lot easier than they can from a harsh fight.

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Make major life decisions

Good life decisions rarely come from rash actions. While packing up all your belongings and running away to Madagascar may seem like a dandy idea at the time, you’ll regret it later. The only exception to this is making decisions that directly impact your stress level, like taking a new job or ending a toxic relationship.

Let yourself go

As tempting as it is to give up showering, shaving, and getting dressed, avoid letting yourself go. Taking care of your basic hygiene needs not only makes you more pleasant to be around, it gives you a sense of control over your routine. You may not be able to control the stock market, but you can choose which shampoo you’ll use in the morning.

Procrastinate

Don’t put things off because you are too stressed out to focus. Instead, force your mind to hone in on each task on your to-do list. Getting things done gives you a sense of accomplishment, which helps reduce your stress a bit. On the flip side, putting things off creates a backlog that adds to your stress.

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Forget to relax

You can’t focus on your stress every minute of every day. Force yourself to relax for at least an hour each day. Watch TV. Read a book. Meditate. If you find yourself going back to your problems, push it out of your mind and promise yourself to think about it later. Spending 24-7 trying to resolve stress is just going to cost you an expensive trip to a padded room.

Keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing

Face it, your methods of dealing with stress apparently aren’t working if you’re still feeling stressed out. The colloquial definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Don’t be insane. Try something different. If it fails, try something else.

Avoiding doing these things when you’re stressed out will go a long way to getting you out of your rut. Even better, it will ensure that you don’t completely burn bridges that you may need once you’re back on track.

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Featured photo credit: thornypup via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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