Healthy Mind

Stick out your tongue, refuse to an­swer work e-mail, carry a lot of cash. Sounds risky, but th­ese ‘bad’ be­hav­iours may be the key to a less stress­ful ex­is­tence.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Six se­crets to a stress-free life

Some­times even the best rules need to be bro­ken – es­pe­cially when do­ing so will help you get ahead, get over an ar­gu­ment or get more free time. Here are tips on when it’s okay to colour out­side the lines.

1 THE RULE: Re­turn ev­ery e-mail right away.

Break it be­cause… if you’re a slave to the ‘ding’, you’ll have maybe only 5 to 10 min­utes be­tween re­ceiv­ing each new mes­sage to tackle a project – not ex­actly the best way to achieve deep fo­cus. To get more work done, block off one e-mail-free hour dur­ing the day. How do you avoid miss­ing im­por­tant mes­sages? Try set­ting the au­to­matic out-of-of­fice no­tice to turn on at the same time ev­ery day. Word the re­ply so that peo­ple know you won’t be check­ing e-mail and to call you if the mat­ter is ur­gent. Tip off your boss and co-work­ers that you’re try­ing to boost pro­duc­tiv­ity – not ig­nore them – dur­ing this time. Can’t spare an en­tire hour un­plugged? Check your mail­box only ev­ery 10 to 15 min­utes, and even then, scan the sub­ject line and sender. Fi­nally, don’t get pulled into a gos­sipy e-mail dis­cus­sion with your chatty friend from down the hall; save that for your af­ter­noon break.

Some­times, the smartest strat­egy is to set the fight aside and let tem­pers cool. Learn to rec­og­nize when you’re get­ting nowhere and then just ‘put the ar­gu­ment out of its mis­ery’. It can be as sim­ple as say­ing ‘Sorry, we’re so mad at each other, but I still love you’ or even ‘I don’t want this to be a huge is­sue’.

2THE RULE: Don’t go to bed an­gry.

Break it be­cause… end­lessly re­hash­ing a dis­agree­ment only amps up agi­ta­tion. Some­times, the smartest strat­egy is to set the fight aside and let tem­pers cool. Learn to rec­og­nize when you’re get­ting nowhere and then just ‘put the ar­gu­ment out of its mis­ery’. It can be as sim­ple as say­ing ‘Sorry, we’re so mad at each other, but I still love you’ or even ‘I don’t want this to be a huge is­sue’. Then pick up the sub­ject again when you’ve calmed down.

3 THE RULE: Mul­ti­task­ing = max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency.

Break it be­cause… no mat­ter how con­sumed with work you are, you de­crease your odds of be­com­ing more suc­cess­ful if you’re con­stantly fly­ing off in a mil­lion dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. Pick your num­ber one goal for the day, then start off by do­ing one thing that helps you achieve it. If your sched­ule keeps you crazy busy, do a lit­tle task triage by del­e­gat­ing smaller jobs and rel­e­gat­ing non press­ing items to the back burner. Put a dot next to the pri­or­ity moves on your to-do list and make sure to tackle them first. For ex­am­ple, iden­tify bold ini­tia­tives you can take to raise your pro­file with your boss. Ask your­self what is the brash­est thing you can do to bring in more clients, busi­ness or money, or fig­ure out one small step you can make to­ward get­ting a raise or pro­mo­tion. That way, you’ll feel like you’re ac­com­plish­ing big goals in­stead of just spin­ning your wheels.

4 THE RULE: Clean­li­ness is next to god­li­ness.

Break it be­cause… al­though hav­ing an or­derly home can re­duce anx­i­ety, get­ting your house in or­der shouldn’t stress you out. In­stead of be­rat­ing your­self for not keep­ing on top of your house­work, adopt a kinder and gen­tler (to you) clean rou­tine. Rather than de­vot­ing hours to get­ting rid of your junk, stop the clut­ter be­fore it even makes it in­side your house by em­ploy­ing rigid bor­der con­trol. Re­move two items from your house for ev­ery new one you bring in. Sure, it might be hard at first to pass up that set of vin­tage plates or those great new books, but fi­nally be­ing able to find your favourite sweater in your closet or see the coun­ter­tops in your kitchen will make it all worth it.

Stop wor­ry­ing about dis­ap­point­ing some­one else, and learn to say no to the things you can’t – or don’t want to – do. The next time some­one asks you to do some­thing you’d rather skip, try re­spond­ing, “Thanks for invit­ing me, but I al­ready have too much on my plate.”

5 THE RULE: Don’t keep a lot of cash in your wal­let – you’ll just blow it.

Break it be­cause… it’s eas­ier to lose track of just how much you’re spend­ing if you’re re­peat­edly with­draw­ing money from the cash ma­chine or charg­ing ev­ery­thing. Limit your­self to hit­ting the ATM just once per pay pe­riod, and take out enough to cover all your ex­penses. This will help to take your money man­age­ment out of the neb­u­lous realm of credit- and debit-card pur­chases. Draw up a bud­get for all pur­chases that can be made with cash, like food, restau­rant meals, trans­porta­tion costs, cloth­ing and en­ter­tain­ment. Then put the money you’ve al­lot­ted for each ex­pense into in­di­vid­ual en­velopes. On the front of each en­ve­lope, make a note of ev­ery cent you take out. That will help you keep track of where you spend your money. Once the gro­ceries en­ve­lope is empty, for ex­am­ple, you can bor­row from the en­ter­tain­ment or cloth­ing one – but with the un­der­stand­ing that you’ll have to skip see­ing a movie or put off buy­ing that new pair of shoes you’ve been eye­ing. And don’t fall back on plas­tic – cut up your cards or put them away. This will keep you from spend­ing the money you should be sav­ing.

6 THE RULE: Al­ways make time for friends.

Break it be­cause… forc­ing your­self to at­tend ev­ery so­cial gath­er­ing, re­gard­less of how over­tired, over­stressed or over­worked you are, will not only burn you out but will also make you re­sent your pals for in­trud­ing on your scarce time. Stop wor­ry­ing about dis­ap­point­ing some­one else, and learn to say no to the things you can’t – or don’t want to – do. We’re not say­ing it’s easy to turn down your cousin’s bar­be­cue or brunch with the girls. We’re say­ing it’s worth it. The next time some­one asks you to do some­thing you’d rather skip, try re­spond­ing, “Thanks for invit­ing me, but I al­ready have too much on my plate.” If the other per­son keeps in­sist­ing, just re­peat your an­swer. Tak­ing con­trol over your sched­ule will en­sure that you spend time on the friends and ac­tiv­i­ties you value the most, which will make you feel more em­pow­ered, in­vig­o­rated and hap­pier.

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