We all naturally have times throughout our day where we feel more stressed, and/or feel lower energy levels. Sometimes this has to do with our body rhythms, and sometimes due to external factors. Today we are going to think about when you feel more stressed and when you need rest throughout your day, so you can intercept the contributing factors. You might even be able to turn your times of stress into times of rest.
For the next several days, pay attention to when you feel more stressed during the day, and when you feel tired or overwhelmed and need a break. Write these notes in your planner or notebook so you can refer to them later and notice any patterns.
First let’s look at when you feel stressed:
Are you feeling anxious first thing in the morning? (If so here are some tips to help that.) Does your commute stress you out? Are you feeling overwhelmed when you first get into work, or at the end of the day when you are supposed to be finishing up but things are still left undone? Are there certain times of the day when it seems like things are coming at you from all directions?
Now let’s look at when you need rest:
When do you feel tired or lower-energy? Do you have a hard time getting going in the morning? (Is this due to not enough sleep, or a lack of motivation to get on with your day?) Do you have an after-lunch or mid-afternoon slump? When you get home, do you collapse onto the couch and feel useless for the rest of the evening?
After a few days, see if you notice any patterns. Do the same feelings happen at generally the same times of the day?
Now think about what you can do to prevent that. Some tips:
The key to a good morning is to prepare the evening before. Set out your clothes, look at your planner to know what’s coming up, and give yourself plenty of time in the morning so you start the day feeling calm and prepared instead of rushed and stressed. If your commute stresses you out because you’re always rushed, give yourself extra time so you can turn that time into rest and transition time. Maybe listen to an audio book, something engaging but that you don’t have to concentrate too much on, to make that an enjoyable time for you.
If you have discovered that there is a certain time of day when things seem to come at you from everywhere at once (often I find it’s my first hour of work), avoid trying to do any deep-focus work during that time because you know you will get interrupted. Use that time to do something less concentration-intensive, and block off a different time to do focused work.
If you consistently feel tired after lunch or in the afternoon, take a short walk to shake off the cobwebs and get the blood flowing.
When you are stressed or tired, take a 5 minute break to reset. Here is a list of 5 minute breaks to help you refocus. You can also do 5 minute meditation exercises to let your mind have a break and reduce stress.
Make sure you give yourself transition time, especially when going from one role to another or before and after times of deep focus.
At the end of your work day, have a routine to help you close off your work mode for the day and transition to non-work. Look at what you didn’t get done today, and what you need to get done tomorrow. Make your to-do list, and check your schedule for tomorrow and the rest of the week. Make a note to yourself of how to get back into your in-progress work so you can jump in mid-stream.
Heading off your stressors before they happen will help you feel more calm and focused. When you are less stressed, you’ll have less of a post-stress crash. This will help even out your energy levels throughout the day and let you be more productive at a steady pace.