Life can be stressful, but have you ever noticed that some people seem to be perpetually calm? Even in the most out-of-control situations, while the rest of us are frazzled and pulling our hair out, they’re the picture of serenity. Turns out, they’ve got a few tricks up their neatly rolled sleeves. Here are five that I scoped out so you can avoid the “frazzled trap.”
Keep a detailed calendar (but don’t let it rule you).
Preparation is key, but it’s just as important to be adaptable. Make a schedule and stick to it, but expect and roll with the occasional change. Whether your colleague is taking forever to get back to you or your regular barista is a little more slammed than usual, remind yourself that some things are out of your control.
Build in wiggle room.
You know how you always think it takes 20 minutes to get to the gym? But then it takes you five minutes to get out the door...and there's a roadblock on the highway and you need to stop for gas...and suddenly it's 30 minutes later and you're only halfway there. Build in a cushion (I like an extra 15 minutes) to keep yourself from being late and stressed out when you do arrive.
Learn how to say “no.”
Overextending yourself is one of the easiest ways to stress yourself out. If you spread yourself too thin, you’re going to get things done—poorly. Master the art of just saying no and understand that the possibility of disappointing someone with your “no” is better than disappointing them with subpar work. If “no” doesn’t come easy, memorize the following: “Under normal circumstances, I’d be glad to help, but I’m so short on time this week I couldn’t give [insert task here] the attention it deserves.”
Be an expert at delegating.
Remember when you wanted to manage your kitchen renovation, summer vacation and office events? Make like ”Frozen” and let it go. Figure out which tasks you could outsource to others and trust them to get the job done until they prove you otherwise. Bonus: Delegating makes you a great mentor. Be unafraid to let others make mistakes and learn from them; you’re doing both of you a huge favor.
Make self-care a priority.
This means getting enough sleep and allowing yourself the occasional manicure or happy hour with friends—basically just treating yourself. We’re not suggesting packing up and moving into a grass hut at a beach resort, but when it comes to not being frazzled, a little "me time" goes a long way. Make a standing monthly massage appointment, schedule time on the weekends to do NOTHING (which means read, go for a walk, sleep...you get the picture). Self care isn’t negotiable.
When your level of stress approaches overload, it might feel like the only thing that would make it stop is an on-demand airlift to a tropical island—or perhaps running out of the office with your arms flailing, screaming about how you can't take it anymore. Unless you win the lottery, neither is likely to happen. Give these quick, effective–and low-stakes–ways a shot before doing anything drastic, like allowing yourself to get burned out.