Feeling stressed when you go to sleep will keep you up. Stress activates and makes the body alert and awake, so it’s vital to learn how to lower stress both during the day and in the evening prior to sleep.
Stress is a general term for anything that places a physical strain or pressure on your body. It can come from outside sources like your job, a relationship, traffic, overload from too many tasks, the weather, etc. Or it can come from internal sources, like your thoughts (worry), your emotions (anxiety, anger), or having an illness or injury. Most people experience both types of stress.
Stress is not necessarily bad. Exercise and sex cause stress. So do rollercoasters, first dates, weddings, travel and other usually positive experiences. What we are targeting is the stress that impedes your functioning and enjoyment of life and disrupts your sleep.
There are many effective ways to manage stress. Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover several ways. Today we’re going to tackle overload.
One common cause of stress is taking on more than you can handle.
Solution: cut down or cut out activities, tasks and relationships that are not as important or that are creating an excessive amount of stress. (“Excessive” is an extended level of stress of 6 or higher on a 1-10 scale. You can assess this by asking yourself what your level of stress is at any given moment).
How to do it:
- Write down everything you do in a week. Sometimes this alone will shock you by seeing just how much you have on your plate.
- Rank all of these tasks in a list from most to least important (i.e., first, second, third, etc.)
- Then start with a blank schedule and place each item in order of importance into the schedule making sure you allow sufficient time for each, as well as time for rest/fun in the evenings. Once you have filled up your time, whatever is left on your list must be cut.
This exercise shouldn’t take more than an hour or two and can be broken up over several days, if needed. Taking the time to do this will actually save you tons of time (and lower your stress) as soon as it’s completed and implemented.