Let’s look at a couple strategies to help manage our stress throughout the day:
Reduce decision making
Every time you make a decision about something, from what you’re going to wear in the morning to life or death decisions, you begin to chip away at your body’s battery. This is called decision fatigue. If you don’t manage this energy well throughout the day, you might find that 5 p.m. hits and you’re completely wiped out. Start planning ahead and reducing the number of decisions you have to make throughout the day: lay out tomorrow’s clothes, figure out your train route before you leave the house, order the same thing for lunch every day. Did you know that Steve Jobs wore a black turtle neck every day for this very reason? He didn’t want to chip away at his mental energy even a little, so he made it simple.
Nourish your body with sleep and nutrition
Nourishing food and rest are integral to maintaining a healthy stress level; without these two components, you’re fighting a losing battle. Sleep and sleep deprivation are directly linked to stress levels and can have a compounding issue on your physical health.
Adopt a “done is better than perfect” attitude
If you identify as a perfectionist, perhaps it’s time to put concerted effort into amending your MO and work on finding a happy medium in your work and creation. Too often, fear of not getting things quite right can lead us to paralysis or overwork, which add undue stress to our system. Remember, what is imperfect to you is probably still pretty darn good to someone else.
Mindfulness like meditation and breathwork has many noted benefits for stress intervention. Because these tools address our central nervous system—the part that’s agitated when we’re stressed—they act as natural parasympathetic nerve system starters and bring us down in a healthy way. Meditating first thing in the morning juices up your energy and stress resilience battery a little, and meditating when you’re actively experiencing stress can help cool your nervous system in the moment.
Predictable routine helps to take the guesswork out of things and is another tool for reducing decision fatigue. If you know that you wake up at 5 a.m. everyday, turn on the coffee pot, and sit down to journal for a bit, you don’t have to think about it and you don’t begin draining your battery right away. It is especially helpful to establish routines first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, to ease you in and out of your day instead of plugging into work and family and responsibilities right away.
Practice delegating and saying “no.”
Is there something on your plate that you can outsource to someone else? Can someone else do it just about as good as you can, for less literal or energetic currency than it takes you to do it? Delegate it out. Scrubbing toilets, sending emails, contacting clients—whatever it is that you can share responsibility of with someone else, hand it off. Additionally, practice saying “no” to requests for your time and energy. Protect that energy fiercely and do not say “yes” to something that is not aligned with what’s most important in your life and work.
Bloem. C. (2018, February). Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Everyday. Inc. https://www.inc.com/craig-bloem/this-1-unusual-habit-helped-make-mark-zuckerberg-steve-jobs-dr-dre-successful.html
Sanders, R. (2013, April.) Researchers find out why some stress is good for you. Berkeley News. https://news.berkeley.edu/2013/04/16/researchers-find-out-why-some-stress-is-good-for-you/