All of us are under stress to some degree. If you do not engage in purposeful stress management activities, ask yourself the following questions:
Why should I manage my stress?
Is stress management really important to me?
What would I rather be doing instead of managing my stress?
Is this alternative activity more important to me that managing my stress?
Can I schedule my life so that I can manage my stress and participate in the alternative activity?
If I do not want to manage my stress now, exactly what would it take to make stress management a priority?
What would I have to give up if I succeeded in lowering my stress level?
What (or who) would I have to confront if I succeeded in lowering my stress level?
When you slack off on purposeful stress management, such as exercising, it is often illuminating to examine the reasons you tell yourself this is happening. Typical reasons are:
I am too busy
I am too tired
Missing once will not hurt
Someone needs my help
This is not working
This is boring
I feel relaxed and unstressed today, so I do not need to exercise
These excuses are seductive because they are partially true. That is, you may really feel very busy or tired, somebody may want your help, and missing one session probably will not hurt. That part that is not true is the implication that because you are busy or tired or someone needs your help, you can not focus on stress management. A more truthful statement would be
I am tired; I could exercise, but I choose not to, I could exercise, but I choose to help someone instead
The important point here is that you take responsibility for your decision to choose one activity over another, rather than pretend that you are the passive victim of circumstances such as your fatigue, someone’s demands, or other priorities that keep you busy. You may find yourself repeatedly using the same reason or similar reasons for not exercising. A common theme with many variations is that I am indispensable. Things will not get done without me and may even fall apart.
For example, one very bright high-powered executive could rarely find time to exercise because her work was never done. She believed that she could not take time out for herself or the pile of work would grow rapidly into an unassailable mountain. After years of doing continuous overtime with no time set aside to relax, she was run down, depressed, anxious, having migraines and lower back pain, and getting her work done at a fraction of her previous rate. Her perfectionistic belief that she had to do all of her work before she had a right to relax had caused a gradual depletion of her energy. The result was inevitable physical and emotional signs of stress.
The excuses you give yourself for not practicing stress management are likely to be the same ones that you have used for years to keep yourself locked into a stressful situation. These excuses are based on faulty premises. For example, the executive mentioned above believed erroneously that she had no right to relax until all her work was done. But because the work of an executive is never done, she could never relax.
Furthermore, she had overlooked her innate right to relax and replenish her vital store of energy. This woman had defined her priorities as being executive-first, me-second, without taking into account the importance of relaxation and getting away from stressful activities for maintaining good mental health and physical health. This is a self-destructive pattern that, fortunately, can be averted through regular stress management.
I have been helping people reach their personal and professional goals for the past 14 years. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping someone reach their potential for success. I would like the opportunity to help you reach your goals. I am a Professional Coach with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a specialty in Goal Achievement and Transitions. Check out my website to learn more about me then call me for a free consultation.