Dealing with Stress

August 7, 2012

Kate Moss by Terry Richardson


…is the noise my brain makes when it feels like it’s literally 2 seconds away from exploding with information overload. And yours?

We’ve all been there. There’s too much to do and there’s too little time to do it in. There’s someone calling you and there’s a zillion people emailing you. Your mental ‘to do’ list is longer than your arm and you don’t know where to start.

So save from allowing your brain to explode all over your computer screen, how do you deal with stress? If you Google ‘dealing with stress’ there are a million and one websites with lists of things you can do to combat those dreaded stressful episodes, however these are the things that work for me…

Get up early

I’m personally more productive in the morning. I write better. I’m more focused. I can breeze through emails much quicker. Once it gets to about 2pm I start to feel lethargic and my brain switches off. The afternoon time is when I do menial tasks like compiling invoices and proof reading – i.e. the stuff that doesn’t need me to be creative. There are also less distractions early in the morning (when twitter is less lively!) A strong cup of coffee and I’m usually good to go.

Also after a good night’s sleep I feel fresher and feel more ready to tackle my ‘to do’ list head on. I can party into the wee hours with the best of them, but nothing beats an early night followed by some early morning productivity. How very Rock n Roll!

Get organised

Buy yourself a beautiful notebook and obsessively write lists and any ideas that pop into your head in it (mine is neon pink and that helps, believe me). Allow yourself to not worry about remembering the things that you can jot down. Get yourself signed up to Google Calendar and/or grab yourself a wall planner and physically document the thinks you have to do. No one can remember everything they have to do so don’t stress yourself out trying!

Decide what works for you. I personally use my Google Calendar to keep track of my advertisers (ie when each advert needs to go up or come down) and to note dates and times of any meetings, events or appointments I have. The great thing about using a Google Calendar is you can access it online anywhere and you can set up email alerts to remind you of each thing you need to do and when. I’ve also got an app for it on my phone which means I get the alerts directly on my mobile as well as in my inbox. Great for when I’m out and about! I have mine set up to remind me 48 hours before I have to do something.

I also have a physical diary which sits in front of me… on my desk… all the time (see?). It’s a week-to-view diary and in it I note what blog posts I’m planning to publish and at what time of day. I then tick off when they’re scheduled which is super duper satisfyingly – always! In a different coloured pen I also note down anywhere I need to be that week so I don’t loose track.

Similarly keeping on top of your email (or anything that piles up quickly and needs constant attention) is VITAL. Set a certain time aside every day and just do it. No excuses! Sure, it’s not the most enjoyable part of running a business, but it’s an important one. Not only is it paramount to communicate with your clients/collegues for your sanity as well as theirs, but you don’t want to be known as someone who never replies to their emails do you?! I’m an over communicator – but I figure I’d rather be known for that than the other option! If you’d like to read more about how I keep on top of my inbox you can do so here.

Catherine McNeil in LaCrasia Buttoned Leather Opera Gloves

Have something to look forward to

It could be dinner out, a take away, a cupcake (hum… I think I must be hungry) a mini break, a shopping spree… but whatever it is it has to be non-work related and something you’d consider a treat.  Why? Well why not!? Having something to look forward to is always a good thing and will help you power through the crappy times knowing there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Schedule some time off

Like, proper time away from work. A holiday, a week off, even a day out. Looking forward to something (see above) is good but getting there is even better. You’ll come back to work refreshed and ready to tackle things head on.

Make sure you prepare for your time away though. Get right on top of things before you sign off. Clear your inbox and make sure your clients and colleagues know your’re going away and won’t be responding to emails. Set up an out of office informing people of that fact and the date that they can expect to hear back from you. People will forgive you as long as you keep them informed! If like me, you have to have social media/blog updates daily, pre-schedule these too. It’s a little extra work beforehand but totally worth it so you can completely unwind. Of course you’ll have lots to come back to but you’ll feel better equipped to deal with it after a proper rest.

Take regular breaks

Remember those BBC bitesize revision thingys? I remember using them for my GCSEs and loving how all the lessons were broken down into, what they called, ‘bitesized chucks’. The information was easily digestible and you never felt overloaded but more than that they encouraged you to take a break every hour! I rememeber thinking that was a little excessive and that I didn’t feel like I needed a break that often, but looking back I can see the logic. You’re brain can’t remain at the peak of it’s ability after a prolonged period of time. It needs a rest and a recharge to be in tip top condition.

While I don’t break quite that often anymore, making sure you allow yourself to take a few minutes here and there is good for the soul. Whether it’s half an hour away from your desk to eat lunch, a mid afternoon bath (my favourite) or a quick early evening stroll around the block, I guarantee you’ll come back to your desk with a new idea, or a better way of tackling something, or hell, maybe even a witty tweet. Inspiration and ideas never ever hit you when you’re sat at your computer willing them to come do they?

Shenae Grimes for Dirrty Glam

Get healthy

Everyone tells you to eat right, get some exercise and drink less alcohol. We all know doing so will make us look at feel better but blah blah blaaaah we all also know most of us don’t do it! I have made a conscious decsision to try and eat better over the past few weeks – mainly replacing the carbs in our evening meal with extra veg, and I do feel better for it. But I probably need to take this advice on board a lot more. I don’t exercise at all and I drink quite a lot. Although I also think a couple of glasses of wine in the evening are a great way to destress and unwind. And as long as I’m not cracking open a bottle of gin at midday, that’s a vice I’m OK to admit to!

Cut down on your commitments

Say no more often and focus on the things that really matter. It’s impossible to take on everything yourself so delegate where you can and spend your time on the things that really need your specific skills (ie you might need to be the one who writes your blog posts but can you outsource your accounts?) Similarly take a long hard look at everything you’re committed to. What really adds value to your life or your business (this doesn’t have to be monetary value) and what are you doing just because you feel like you should? You may need to make some tough decisions and drop things, but if the effort you’re putting into something doesn’t equate to what you’re getting out of it (or might get out of it in the future) then why are you still doing it?

Also try to focus on just one task at a time. When we try to multitask too often, neither job gets done to the best of our ability. Take your time and do things in the best way possible.

Walk away

Do you ever stare at your computer screen at something that’s stressing you out or annoying you and then wonder at 5pm why you feel like you’ve had such a crappy day? It’s not the fault of the person/thing/event that’s making you feel this way (OK so maybe it is but they’re not going to do anything to change the way you feel are they?)

If this happens step away – literally.  Get up, walk away from your computer and do something else. Even if its just for 10 minutes, changing your physical location will, I guarantee, change your attitude. Do something else – a blast of housework, paint your nails, organise your wardrobe, walk the dog… anything to shift your emotions and attention onto something else for a while (as a side note, when I’m angry, I tend to do housework really well… what’s that about?!)

Walking away for a bit also allows you to let stuff go. Stressing about things you can’t control is the worst (and the most pointless) kind of stress. Sitting there in a state of constant panic won’t change it… so stop it! You’re probably thinking “yeah but that’s easier said than done”. Sure it is, but why not try the above methods and see what difference they make.

And if all else fails…

Put on some loud music and dance like a loon

Seriously… you’ll feel better in an instant. Right now I’d recommend this…

In fact I’d always recommend the Deftones. Epic love.

Or if you’re in need of something more in the ‘chill out’ realm it’s gotta be anything by these guys right?

In fact I don’t think they’ve ever released a song I didn’t like. Yesterday I spent my morning listing to a YouTube playlist of 80 of their best tracks. I’ve never felt more chilled!

The fabulous people on my facebook page also had some amazing musical ideas. What an ace playlist that lot would be!

I’d love to hear some of your own de-stressing tactics. What works (or doesn’t work) for you? What musical interludes help you though the bad times? What are you stressing about at the moment and how can we help?