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Managing Time and Coping with Stress

Especially at this time of the year, there is an obvious relationship between time management and stress. I can tell you that personally, in my house, my wife and I do everything possible to manage our time efficiently so that our stress levels are kept as low as possible. With four kids six years and under that may be easier said than done but we strive to be efficient with the limited time we have for everything that we need to do on any given day. Some days we are more successful than others However, we understand that there is a definite relationship between good time management and the management of stress.

Not only does stress management make sense for you and your family in terms of overall happiness and productivity but it is essential for growing and maintaining a strong marriage. Your marriage is the foundation of your family and your life. This may sound like a strange admission to come from a family law attorney but in truth, nobody understands that more than a divorce lawyer. We at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan see the consequences of failing marriages every day. Those consequences go beyond filing for divorce. Health issues, emotional issues, problems with your children, developmental delays in your kids- the list goes on and on. Your marriage needs to be strong for you and your children to be at their best. 

This brings us back to stress. We all have stress in our lives. I am not writing this blog post as a cure-all for stress. I'm not that foolhardy to believe that there is a way to eliminate stress from your life. Rather, we can and should talk about how to manage stress by managing our time more effectively. This is not a goal that is so lofty that only some people can attain it. Rather, it is a goal that all of us should be striving for in our lives. Different people have different kinds and levels of stress in their lives, I will grant you. However, we also know that there are different ways that we can manage stress in our lives given our strengths and weaknesses. 

This is what we are going to talk about in today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Managing your time is so closely related that to think otherwise would be making a huge mistake. I would even go so far as to say that if you are not able to manage your time effectively that you have no chance of managing stress. You cannot eliminate your children, your job, or any of the important parts of your life. However, you can stretch the hours in the day out a little further by making small, incremental changes to your life where you can. We hope that today's blog post can show you exactly how to do that. These sorts of tips may be exactly what you need to transition yourself into a place where you can reduce stress and manage time much more effectively. 

Not all stress is bad

Keep in mind that when we talk about stress, we don’t mean to do so in a way that indicates all stress is bad or negative. On the contrary, we need some stress in our lives to function properly. Have you noticed that when you have “nothing” going on that it can make you feel anxious? I've noticed this in my life. Not so much these days but before my wife and I had children there were times when it felt like I needed to be doing something more with my time. Children certainly fill that void and are the best way to allocate time, in my opinion. Do not underestimate the good that can be done by playing with your children consistently. That will reduce stress for you and increase a lot of self-confidence for them. 

In undergoing stress on occasion, it can encourage you to develop a new skill. If you find yourself getting stressed out every time that your wife leaves the house because you must care for your children on your own, then that is probably a good sign that you need to work on your parenting skills. Nobody enjoys caring for a crying baby or toddler but there are steps you can take to improve your parenting skills so that there is less crying and more bonding in those moments when you are the parent taking care of your kids. Stress causes a reaction – it is up to you whether that reaction is positive or negative. 

At the same time, you should not underestimate stress and the negative impacts it can have on you. Some stress does not lead to the development of new skills. Some stress is the type that very simply does nothing positive for you. Instead, this type of stress merely increases negative feelings in your life and takes up time that could be devoted to different areas that need your attention. The result is feeling stressed out but not solving any issues or developing any skills in the process. This is a terrible situation to find yourself in. These are the type of stresses or stressful situations that you would be well served to eliminate from your life, if possible. 

There is a relationship between a healthy mind and a healthy body. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or anything else besides an attorney. You can trust me when I say that there is a relationship between your physical body and your mental state. To strengthen your mind is to strengthen your body and vice versa. You should not feel like you are taking away from one area when you focus on another. The better you become at managing your time and stress, the more positive will your body and mind respond. They work in tandem, and I think this will be observable to you when your stress levels are reduced by proper time management. 

What is a schedule that you can maintain?

Before committing to events or anything else you need to ask yourself whether you can realistically commit to that scheduled event considering all the other activities that you already have going on in your life. Different people have different capacities for handling commitments like these. You may be very good at handling a busy schedule. Or you may need to keep your calendar light to reduce stress in your life. Extroverts tend to derive energy from events and people. Introverts tend to feel drained after attending parties or events where they are socializing. You should consider what happens to you in those situations before over-committing yourself to activities. 

Here is the other reality: when you feel drained or without energy, you do not perform as well and do not offer as much to the people that are around you. If you volunteer for every event, cause, and charitable endeavor that you can eventually you will find that you are not able to devote yourself as fully to those activities. This is true even as you are physically present at events. Just because you are physically present does not mean that your heart is there. Your energy levels may be so low that you cannot be yourself and do as much as you would like. Being judicious with your time and energy will help you not overextend yourself and increase stress needlessly. 

The question that we need to ask ourselves is how can we get better at managing our workloads and seeing to it that we are not overextending ourselves? I know that it is easy for me to type up a blog post that recommends that you manage your schedule to manage your stress. Easier said than done, you may be thinking. However, I have thought about this as well, and have a solution to many if not all your problems regarding a busy calendar and how to maximize your time. Let’s talk about that solution to your calendaring/activities schedule crunch that often reaches a head this time of year. 

“No” is a complete sentence

I can't remember where I heard the following phrase, but it crosses my mind regularly: No is a complete sentence. This is a many-layered statement so let's examine it more in detail. For one, if you tell someone no that should be the end of it. Most people who have boundaries understand that no means no and that the conversation needs to shift in another direction. If you have people constantly asking for your time then those folks need to understand the power and importance of “no.” It is a simple word that can have powerful impacts on your life, stress, and schedule. Learning how to use this word judiciously and politely can save your marriage because it can save you time. If we agree that there is an inverse relationship between time and stress, then the word “no” can be the key to this entire discussion that we are having. 

At a certain point, you should only consider doing those activities that need to get done. Sometimes we can confuse ourselves into believing that any number of activities are necessary when they are not. It could be the request of a person close to you. Or you may feel like you are neglecting your children by not granting their request to go to this party or play this sport. Instead, what your child may truly be seeking is more time with you and less time with their phone. Pay close attention to your children and their demeanor. It can be hard to tell if your child truly wants to do an activity or if they are more or less searching for an outlet that you can fill with your time. 

Saying no to certain activities does not mean that you are going to have to say no to them for the rest of your life. It is smart to say no when you need to so that you can say yes when you want to later on. This whole process begins with you finding out how to say no in a respectful, courteous but direct manner. People may not be happy when you tell them, no, but you should do so because it allows you to maintain your stress levels and not increase them for an activity or potential commitment that would not serve you well. 

What are some activities that you should mark on your calendar to be completed daily?

We mark down all sorts of commitments on our calendars, but we are very unlikely to mark down certain types of self-care on those same calendars. Here are some tips that you can use in your planning for your day, week, and month that can help you to keep basic self-care at the center of what you do. This does not mean that you should be more selfish or should focus on yourself to the detriment of others. However, keeping these topics at the front of your mind will give you a better chance at accomplishing them. A big part of getting something done is remembering it in the first place. Write down these tips and you will be well-positioned to be able to work through any other problems in your life regarding excess stress, worry, and scheduling issues. 

Relaxation has a strange place in our culture. On the one hand, we tell people to relax. We work too much and take too little time to enjoy ourselves and our families. When we do relax, we often do so in a way that is stressful to our bodies (drinking alcohol, eating poorly, staying up too late). I think relaxation should be viewed as a necessary counterpart to work. If you can enjoy your free time, you will be more productive when it is time to work. You should also look for every opportunity to focus your mind and energy on relaxing whenever possible. This may be easier for some of you than others considering your schedules and other commitments. However, a mind that can alternate between relaxation and work is best equipped to manage stress during the day. 

How much exercise are you getting? Admittedly, this is a question that may need to be answered in part by you and in part by your doctor. I understand that some of you reading this blog post don't exercise much due to a combination of issues related to problems related to your health. However, exercise can improve the quality of life and decrease stress for almost everyone capable and willing to take part in a routine. What exercise looks like for you may be completely different than what exercise looks like for me. That's ok. Nobody is saying what your exercise routine needs to look like. However, you should consider the benefits of exercise in your daily life.

You can make exercise a social engagement if that will increase the likelihood that you will do so consistently. If making time to exercise is a problem for you then I am willing to bet that there is someone else in your life who is experiencing the same issue. Why not reach out to friends and family and invite them to go on a weekly walk or bike ride with you? Yoga and other activities like it can be done at home, with a partner, or at a studio. It is completely up to you how exercise fits into your life, but the experience of most is that exercise is a good thing and decreases stress. Carve out some time for exercise by eliminating activities that do not decrease stress and cannot do with the time crunch that you experience daily.

The last subject that I will discuss with you in terms of being able to manage your time and decrease your stress is getting enough sleep each night. Ideally, you should go to bed each night tired and wake up refreshed. Is this something that you can truly say is the case for you? If not, think about what you can do to get better quality sleep. Sleep has been shown to decrease stress and help you maintain a healthy outlook on life. Most people need approximately 8 hours of sleep per night. When was the last time you got that much rest?

You can try to eliminate activities that are performed immediately before bed like reading or exercising to give your body a chance to settle down and prepare for rest. Additionally, eating or drinking, especially alcohol, has been shown to harm your body's ability to rest. By getting enough sleep you can solve many of the issues that we have been discussing in today's blog post.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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