Stress management

Questions for the soloist dealing with stress

- February 20, 2010 2 MIN READ

Stop for a minute and take a breath. Now look around you. It’s no surprise to discover the world is a busy place. Chances are we’re going to have to get used to that idea.

Now let’s look at what you are doing … or not doing.

I have three questions for you:

1. Have you scheduled regular time out?

Don’t snort. Everyone needs time to reflect, rejuvenate and renew focus.

If you’re constantly buried in activity, how do you know where you’re going? Or if you’re heading in the right direction?

I know a soloist who takes two weeks off every ten weeks. ’How does she do it?!’ people ask in disbelief. Her response is ’I’ve learned to live with less.’

This woman isn’t poor by any stretch, but she’s not a millionaire either. But taking more time out does mean having to learn to live with less of something else.

Moral of the story: Get okay with sacrificing for the sake of time-out. You’ll end up with more in the end. (Oh, and if you can feel your blood pressure rising at the very thought of taking more time off, it’s time to learn how to manage your holiday stress!)

2. How long are you working every day?

I have a client who tends not to clock off til 11 o’clock every night. And he throws this information into conversation quite a bit.

Personally, I’m not impressed with the ‘long hours’ spiel. If the guy was taking large portions of time off during the day, that’d be a different matter. But he’s not.

The number of hours you work DOES NOT directly equate to your degree of productivity, as Alain de Botton observed while researching his recent book The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

Moral of the story: Stop being silly. Work fewer hours and focus better when you do work.

Want more articles like this? Check out the stress management section.

3. What do you really need?

I have friends – lovely friends – who own the latest Mercedes, Audi and/or Lexus. These friends have homes that belong in Vogue Living Magazine. They have the best technological gizmos the galaxy has to offer.

I don’t have these things (but I do have more time off) and they STILL talk to me. Isn’t that nice?

Moral of the story: It’s okay to have nice things if it’s not going to push your worry button (i.e. ‘I have to make more money somehow to pay for this!’). So only buy toys that aren’t going to turn into an extra source of stress. And if your friends no longer relate to you because your toys don’t match theirs, then let them play in someone else’s sandpit.

Am I ever stressed? Of course I am, on regular basis. But I keep going back to these three simple touchstones for dealing with stress to help pull me back in line. And, of course, my hammock and tequila kit is on constant stand-by for those ‘emergency situations’…

Stress is a cunning adversary – it can sneak up on you. What ways have you come up with for dealing with stress?