Reducing Stress: Taking Charge of Your Personal Life

Many of us compound our personal lives with more activities than we can realistically juggle and continue to perform well. One strategy for limiting our commitments is to prioritize all our activities and eliminate or limit those at the bottom of the list. It is especially important at the personal level to share these strategies with friends and colleagues so that we don’t cause misunderstandings or bad feelings when we become less available or less visible. Let the important people in your life know what you’re doing and why. They will understand. And they will respect your ability and willingness to take charge of your life and make these changes.

If you are involved in professional societies, benevolent organizations, charity fund-raising groups, or clubs of the sort
that require attendance at meetings or performance of other duties, ask yourself how you are really benefiting from these memberships and what price you are paying to continue them. Yes, charitable organizations are honorable endeavors and society needs people to devote time and effort to them, but what is this commitment doing to your relationship with your children? Your spouse? Your ability to do your job? Maybe this isn’t the best time in your life to pursue altruistic ventures. A plan to devote time during your retirement years or after your kids are grown might be more realistic and sensitive to everyone involved.
One way of limiting your involvement with organizations is to step down from the time-consuming leadership positions. You can still make valuable contributions even if you’re not holding office. You’ll also give yourself a great deal more flexibility in terms of time and effort.

Limiting and prioritizing also extend to the activities we engage in with children and spouse. If you find yourself getting caught up in the commitments of your loved ones to an uncomfortable extent, you need to cut back. Once again, this first involves communication. You must share your concern and your needs. Remember: It’s about you! Don’t make them wrong for your past inability to say no. Tell them what you can and cannot do. Prioritize with them. Get them involved in helping you meet your “stress overload challenge.” They really do want to help you stay healthy and happy; it makes their lives better, too.