Focus Focus Fo....What Was I Saying?
We as a nation are looking at finances in a way we might not have ever done in the past. Having to analyze our bills, pay close attention to our usual spending habits, and learn the hard lessons of frugality and good credit scores in a short period of time can wear just about anyone down. It is never easy starting over and in many cases, we as consumers are having to “start over” in some aspects. With the crazy economy and unfortunate job loss tallies, we are often overwhelmed with the amount of life lessons we need to relearn. We essentially have to figure out how to live life again and that can be stressful.
When life gets overwhelming, we need to focus on things one at a time. Unfortunately for many of us, we live chaotic schedules and find we must often multitask to keep feeling accomplished. This multitasking may seem affective but will eventually take its toll. It is difficult to think that we actually need to slow down and re-prioritize our lives but that is exactly what we need to do in order to take stock of our lives, review our personal financial health, and keep our own health in check. With so many of “average” Americans on stress medication and blood pressure pills, it is more than apparent we as a society need to slow down. Slowing down on a national level isn't likely anytime soon but you can learn to start these pacing habits at home for the good of you and your family.
Here are some tips to help you learn how to pace yourself. Most of these tips can be easily inserted into your daily life right now and give long-lasting effects.
Prioritize – Okay, so you've got a lot going on in your life each day but do your really know what is going on? Taking the time to prioritize your life each day can help you actually see all the things your feel responsible for accomplishing. Putting your to-do's in ink may help you realize your to-do list is entirely too long. Look at the things that encompass basic needs: food, shelter, clothing. Prioritze from there. Make sure you are paying the mortgage and utilities, have something to make for dinner, and your family has clean clothes. After that, prioritize what is left over in the order of importance. Then look over your list and see what really isn't that important but still causes you stress. Having a list in ink also help you feel accomplished each time you check off another item.
Delegate – If you have seemingly a million things going on each day, the chances are great that all these tasks are not yours alone. Unless you get paid to do all of these tasks for others because it is how you make your living, you are liking picking up the slack for family and friends. Instead of stressing yourself out on behalf of others, start handing out to-do lists to others. Face it, those who burden you with things to do don't feel much guilt so neither should you. Make mini to-do lists for kids and your spouse. It may be initially hard to let go some control but if you want to live a more stress free life, you'll learn early on that you can't do everything and will respect everyone else's efforts.
Unwind – People who work all day, even through lunch times and other supposed periods of rest, are not doing themselves much good by not stopping for deserved break from time to time. If you go, go, go and don't stop to unwind, your body may be the thing that ultimately slows you down. Take time each day to eat at least one decent meal while not on the run and at the end of each evening, turn off the distractions (tv's, phones, music) and just focus on your breathing for at least 10 minutes before going to bed.
Just Say No – If you are a “yes” person, it is likely that you find it hard to say “no” and even more likely that most people already know you will say yes so they come to you for help. While there is nothing wrong with helping others, there is only so much you can do. If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed and someone asks you to do something, don't be afraid to decline. Simply explain that you have a lot on your plate at the moment and that you will be more than happy to help in the future if need be. If you are upfront and honest, most people will be more than understanding. Those that aren't will eventually get over it. It's up to you to protect your health, your time, and your life in general.
Press Stop – If you find that you are just entirely too stressed out about certain tasks you usually complete, such as paying bills or balancing your checkbook, just press the stop button and formulate a plan to find someone else to tackle the task. Have your spouse take over the bill paying or grocery shopping on a permanent basis if you just can't do it any longer. Stop signing your kids up for every extra-curricular activity at school and spend some old-fashioned quality time with the family instead of chauffeuring them around town all week.
Only you will know when you are at your breaking point and there is no point in getting yourself out of whack when you really do not have to be. If you allow yourself to change your thinking and you are really committed to making strides to reduce your stress and the chaos of your day, than you can incorporate healthier habits into your life right now. It is all a process but one that might be worth a try.