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Manage Chronic Stress By Setting Priorities And Creating Boundaries

Written by: Lisa Hammett, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do you feel like a hamster on the wheel, constantly going, going, going but never getting anywhere? Are you stressed, overcommitted, burned out, and exhausted?

If you’re like many business owners and executives, this is reality, most days, if not every day. This is a classic sign of life being out of balance, which leads to chronic stress. When our lives are out of balance, there are typically one or two areas that are monopolizing our time. If not adjusted, this lifestyle can lead to serious physical and emotional health problems as well as relationship and productivity challenges.

Finding balance is about setting priorities. When I was in the corporate world, I allowed my job to take precedence over everything in my life. I was always working or thinking about work. I had very little energy left for my husband. As a result, my health and marriage suffered. Setting priorities creates the precedence of what is most important at a given time. It is a form of boundaries. Let’s take a deeper dive into boundaries and why they are necessary.

For many individuals, being likable, helpful, and supportive, are qualities that are important. When we say yes, it is often with these attributes in mind. Saying yes can be very rewarding when we feel needed and appreciated. It can also be a source of stress if we are feeling overwhelmed and overscheduled. Stress is one of the greatest inhibitors to joy and happiness. There are exceptions. Healthy stress, when working toward a deadline, can be a great motivator. When stress begins to impact our well-being and relationships, it’s time to set boundaries.

Saying no is one of the best boundaries you can set for yourself. We often think saying no means we’re a bad person, we’re not being helpful, or we’re being selfish. Saying no is not selfish. It’s saying that we’re putting ourselves first and we value our time. When we set healthy boundaries, we are not only taking care of ourselves, but we’re better able to take care of those most important to us.

When we say yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. By always saying yes, we’re allowing others to control our schedules. If we feel there is not enough time in the day for what is important, that is on us. We control our schedule. It is our choice how we spend our time.

A big Ah-Ha for me was when I realized that setting boundaries earned respect from others. One of my biggest takeaways from the pandemic was the need to have downtime. As a hyper-achiever and an extrovert, I gain energy from people and am busy. This is the complete opposite of my husband, who is an introvert. He needs downtime, away from others, to rest and recharge. Being around a lot of people and having a very full schedule depletes his energy.

During the lockdown, when I was forced to slow down, I began to recognize how much I enjoyed the time to relax and practice self-care. Self-care for me includes puzzling, reading, and going for long walks. When I had time to do these things, I was much happier. When the world opened up, I found my schedule becoming very full again.

I recognized how much I missed these simple pleasures. I now make it a practice to not overschedule myself on nights and weekends. I schedule time for self-care. I’ve jokingly told my husband that I’m becoming an introvert. If I find my schedule becoming too full, I politely decline invitations. When I am transparent about my reasons, I generate respect. Others appreciate my honesty. I am not criticized for saying no. As a result, I’ve let go of my fear of being judged by others for saying no.

Do you have a fear of saying no? If so, it’s time to let it go and set boundaries to create balance in your life. No one cares that you say no. They’re more concerned with their actions. If you don’t believe me, that’s fear telling you otherwise. Here are some tips for establishing balance:

1. Create a schedule. Take a piece of paper and divide it into 3 columns.

a. Left column. High priority tasks (ex: work, kid activities, doctor’s appointments, self-care, grocery shopping, etc.) Yes, I did include self-care. It’s mandatory!

b. Middle column. Medium priority tasks that need to be accomplished in the next few weeks but are not urgent.

c. Right column. include all low priority tasks (ex: clean out the closet, organize spice drawer, etc.)

On the backside of your paper, jot down all the repetitive tasks that occupy your day. Include getting ready for work and all the time suckers, such as social media, email, TV, and computer games.

Once you’ve created your lists, place your High, Medium, and Low priority tasks on a month at a glance calendar. It will provide an excellent visual of available time blocks. If you have limited or no availability, it’s necessary to assess how much time you’re spending on time suckers. You may be surprised at how many hours you are spending, scrolling social media and watching Netflix.

2. If you regularly have back-to-back meetings throughout the day, schedule 20-30 minute breaks between meetings to run to the restroom, grab a snack, refill water, stretch your legs, and check your email. If you’re thinking 10-15 minutes will suffice, consider what will happen when a meeting runs long. No breaks!

3. Be sure to set office hours. If you don’t, you’re telling your co-workers you’re available anytime.

4. Set clear boundaries. Stop being a people pleaser.

5. Let go of what you can’t control. Focusing on things outside of your control will only increase worry and stress. This will make it difficult to focus on those things within your control.

Creating boundaries can be challenging at first. However, just like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets.

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Lisa Hammett, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lisa Hammett is a leader in health and wellness, stress management, and goal setting. After a 26 year career in the corporate retailing world, which left her stressed, burned out, and at her heaviest weight, she left the industry for a successful 16-year career in direct selling. During this time she developed her love of coaching. She also started her health and wellness journey, losing 65 pounds, and has kept it off for 11 years. After losing the weight, she became a health coach, for a global wellness company, and has been coaching members for the past 10 years, to achieve their weight loss goals. In May of 2021 she launched her Success Coaching practice, to help individuals who were struggling with anxiety, depression, and weight gain due to the pandemic. Her business has since expanded to life coaching. Client success stories include: weight loss, improved health, stress reduction, creating a balanced life, development of sustainable healthy habits (mind and body), development of a laser focused Vision for goal achievement, building strong confidence, improved relationships, and business success. Lisa is currently writing her first book, “From Burnout to Best Life.” which will be published later this year.



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