Much of the stress we experience comes from our hyper-connected lifestyles, as we try to cope with the fast amount of information being thrown at us each day, explains Anne, who holds a master’s degree in organizational communication. “Our short-term memory can only store two to four items at once. When we are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s not necessarily because we have so much to do; it’s trying to remember it all and keep it at the forefront of our minds.”
People who operate at high levels of intensity for long periods can actually get addicted to the “high” they get from chemicals the brain produces in response to stress, Anne explains. She shares these steps to help people beat feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out:
Discover Your Priorities: Create a “balance wheel,” a chart made up of important parts of life, such as career, family, finance, health, relationships, etc. Divide the circle into equal slices, like a pizza, with one “slice” for each category that is important to you. Then put numbers from 1 to 10 in each section from the inside to the outside. Mark where you currently feel you are in each category, with 1 being poor and 10 being perfect.
Rank Your Priorities: Identify the areas of your life that really matter and prioritize where you would like to be on your balance wheel. The goal isn’t necessarily to go from a 2 to 10, but instead to make incremental changes, like going from a 2 to a 4.
Focus on Your Priorities: Identify your top three to five priorities and spend 80 percent of your time on them without apologizing for it. Schedule time and if necessary, save money for your priorities. Make sure you have emotional and physical energy for them.
“In the midst of all you do, make sure that the priorities in your life aren’t passing you by while you’re reacting in stress mode,” Anne says. “Most of us have gotten pretty adept at prioritizing our schedule. Scheduling our priorities should be our real goal.”
Anne Grady is an author, corporate leadership consultant and expert in personal and organizational transformation. With humor, passion and straight talk, she grew her business as a nationally recognized speaker and consultant while raising her severely mentally ill son. Anne shares lessons she has learned in her new book, 52 Strategies for Life, Love and Work.