Do you often find yourself glancing at your watch, frustrated to learn that you’re running late? Maybe you blow the horn at other motorists more or hurry so much at home that you spill things. Your stress seems to mount by the second as you contemplate your late arrival, but did you ever consider that it could be your stress making you late in the first place?
You may already know that stress takes a toll on you physically. Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure goes up. When tension and anxiety build, you may experience headaches, insomnia or depression. But behavioral signs such as chronic lateness and rushing can also indicate that you’re on stress overload, so it’s a good idea to keep track of how often you’re racing the clock. If it’s more often than you’d like, chances are you’re also irritable with your friends or family, finding fault with co-workers and just not having much fun anymore.
If you constantly overbook yourself, you may be able to unload some stress just by cutting back on the things you say yes to. “Yes, I’ll bake that cake for the fair.” “Yes, I’ll watch the kids this weekend.” But if you’re one of those people who seems to have a lot of “nervous energy” and who constantly needs to be going and doing, scaling back on your obligations could be challenging. Take a look at what all your overscheduling might be costing you. Are valuable relationships suffering? Are you reaching for the wine or the cookies more? Are you constantly angry or upset?
To fight stress, be realistic about what you can reasonably accomplish given your time constraints. Ask others for help and avoid last-minute rushes by giving yourself enough time to prepare. To relieve pent-up energy and tension, exercise—it’s a lot safer than trying to beat traffic lights.