Aug 8, 2013

Overcoming Stress; or how I stopped being insecure about pressure and painted my nails instead.

Deadlines, obligations, accomplishments, and expectations... these words have been highlighted in my life lately with the big fluro yellow marker of stress. I need to let go a little.
Deadlines can be great for productivity, but not when the pressure outweighs the benefits. In Theories of Productivity I included the triangle theory - the idea that you can successfully prioritise up to three segments of your life at any one time, but accept that there are many more divisions which will have to wait their turn for attention (to read more, you can see that post here). The problem is, each of those departments wants to be at the top of the triangle all the time.

I love being busy. But I take advantage of that trait and pile it on too thick sometimes. 

Do you convince yourself everything needs to be done NOW? I do. 

My natural rhythm is to be an early bird. I love, love, love sleep and can't wait to curl up in bed each night and get excited to jump out of bed early each day. Not lately. I've stayed up until midnight on my websites tweaking, fixing and then mumbling curse words at WordPress. Then I drag myself out of bed early ('cause, you know, I'm an early bird) and walk around in a daze. Of course that leads to being unproductive all day, so I feel I have to stay up late to catch up and... well, you can see the pattern.

The solution

You didn't think I'd just depress you all for nothing? My solution was two part. 
  1. Get to bed! Sneaky me, set a challenge for the family. For one week we all must be asleep by 9pm and awake by 6am. They took the bait. Three days in and I'm feeling great and getting more done each day than I could in a week when I was tired.
  2. Paint my nails. I was never much of a nail painter. It involves sitting still too long for me. But during my weeks of no sleep and high stress, I realised that was exactly what I needed. I paint my nails and then I CAN'T move or touch anything, or do any tasks until they dry. I do several coats so it takes a good hour to dry properly. I've also noticed family members seem to value my nail-drying time more than my work time. They leave me alone, do things for themselves, even offer to do tasks for me, all because they don't want to ruin my nail polish.
I appreciate that last suggestion might be tricky for some guys - but find something that makes you stop thinking and just sit still. You need time to take a big breath before you dive back under the ocean of deadlines, obligations, accomplishments and expectations waiting for you.


My next read is Tim Ferriss' The Four Hour Work Week

This post is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group. To join up, click here:

34 comments:

  1. I needed to read this, Charmaine. We're alike in many ways, and I understood everything as if it were me writing the words.

    I love it when I'm at a blog and I've read the previous article that the writer references (the triangle/pyramid theory). I agreed with you then, too. Only one can sit up top and the others have to shift and wait their turns for that spot.

    I'm about to import my other blog to a WP site and have overextended myself trying to get the readin', writin', and other stuff done...but it all needs to be done NOW.

    So yes, been under stress. Of course, there's the real world life stress as well. I like it when the participants in that world make things easier. I'm jealous that you were able to get your kids to bed and up early. And they respect your time. Wonderful!

    But I won't paint my nails. :)

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. Give it time Mike, I've a nice shade of midnight blue just waiting for you ;)

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    2. Midnight blue? Oh, in that case...

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  2. Ha ha, those painted nails again! I don't mind painting my nails, but I hate the whole ripping it off thing when they start chipping. I don't find it destresses me at all, but it does feel good to ask husby to put my glasses on for me, lol!

    Nothing destresses me like a walk in the sun. Just read this morning in one of those things made of paper called a newspaper, that 58% of Australian women are Vit D deficient - which makes them depressives, get diabetes, osteoarthritis etc. Just as well I always ignored that 'stay out of the sun rule'...but then again, you haven't got the skin for it! Hard to know...

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    1. Yeah, I ignored that rule all through my teenage years with the mantra 'this is the year, the year I get a tan!' - always the optimist :)

      We do have some lovely walkways to take advantage of in Brissie though, so I should be doing more of that.

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  3. I love this approach... and I'm exactly the same, feeling everything needs to be done NOW... not good for destressing. hehe. I'm going to try out your tactic... :)

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    1. We'll start a zen of nail polish movement :)

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  4. I treat myself to a pedicure once a month, but that's partly because I do so much walking and it's a way to pamper and repair my feet. The reason I don't get my fingernails done too is so that I can get some grading or reading done when I'm getting a pedicure; I wish I could say that I had the willpower to sit still, but that only happens when I'm sleeping. (And even then I dream that I'm working.)

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    1. Last time I got a pedicure, the lass failed many times to clip my super strong nails and ended up fetching a grinder-like device. I've decided I have ogre feet that should not be exposed to pedicurists.

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  5. Very awesome idea. I am going to look into your triangle idea. I definitely have more ideas and goals than time. I'm not sure about painting nails, I can't seem to do very many beatification sorts of things... My efforts fail miserably and have thus become infrequent. Still, I'll bet there is something else that I could do that mighty have a similar function. Thanks!

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  6. Very awesome idea. I am going to look into your triangle idea. I definitely have more ideas and goals than time. I'm not sure about painting nails, I can't seem to do very many beatification sorts of things... My efforts fail miserably and have thus become infrequent. Still, I'll bet there is something else that I could do that mighty have a similar function. Thanks!

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    1. Drea, wax the floor to the couch, then you have to stay there until it dries :)

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    1. Thanks for dropping by dream... write... publish Robin, I popped over to your Google+ page - you have some amazing artwork on there!

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  8. Painting nails is definitely therapeutic. Scrubbing the nail polish off the floor when I accidentally dropped the bottle, is not. ;)

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  9. I am most definitely not a morning person. However when I am forced to get out of bed and wake up, I find that early morning is the time of the day when my mind is at its most imaginative time. Go figure.

    Glad you're part of the IWSG.

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    1. Thanks Chemist Ken! I'm happy to be part IWSG too :)
      Our family is divided in two, two early birds and two late owls, I was surprised to hear this morning that our late owls are now adjusting to the challenge routine and thinking about keeping it on (although I do kinda like having time alone in the mornings, so I won't encourage too much).

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  10. Love the early morning, and I do need to go to bed earlier, but hubby gets home at 11:00 and expects dinner. I'm still up early, but then have to nap to keep moving. Oh, and hubby paints the toenails, he's cool! For me the best de-stresser is a walk!

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    1. Yolanda, I couldn't imagine my Hubby wanting to paint my nails! He'll do little jobs for me while I wait for them to dry though. Come to think of it, I remember his 'painting skills' when he had to paint a wall - yeah, I might keep the brush out of his hands! Walking is always a lovely way to unwind too :)

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  11. Hmm? Not sure about painting my nails. On the other hand, if Steven Tyler of Aerosmith can do it, then I suppose I could, too! ;)
    Hi, Charmaine. *waves wildly* I don't like being busy, but I do start to stress as things begin to pile up, especially at the day job. I hate to "hit the deck running" so I usually start my day early as well.
    Thanks for sharing. Take care of yourself, my friend!!

    -Jimmy

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    1. Hey Jimmy! *waves back*
      Cool to see you popping in! Yeah, it starts to wear down the old grey cells when we burn the candle at both ends, but after a few days of early nights and early mornings, I'm feeling like my usual hyperactive self again :)

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  12. I love your nail idea- talk about killing two birds with one stone!

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    1. Wow, I guess I was multi-tasking after all :)

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  13. Hi, Charmaine,
    I think I need to paint my nails too. That's the only way I'll stop moving around doing too much.
    I also think I need to get hold of that book. :)

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    1. Yes Joy, I was surprised at how much I enjoy just painting the nails - never thought it'd be my 'thing', but I guess it's a bit like meditating for me :)

      And I've just started the book(4hr Work Week) - already grabbed me with the line 'To have more quality ad less clutter'. Gold.

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  14. My solution? No, not the nails, too old for that, I just re-read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, works every time for me. :0)

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    1. I just googled that book suggestion Carole, 'The Power of Now' does look like a good de-stressor! Thanks :)

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  15. I should try this tip. I think it is great that you are an early riser as one gets more done this way, but I am too lazy to get up too early. But this was a great post and I should and need to follow your good example.

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    1. Trick yourself, try a challenge for just one week - you can do 7 days of early to bed, early to rise! But go to be way early, that way you'll be nice and bright when you wake up :)

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  16. It's so hard to balance all of life's demands. I'm not sure I'm doing it well. I feel like I got so behind on my goals this summer. I'm slowly but surely digging through the to-do pile and feeling caught up a bit again. But I also try to remember to just stay flexible, and yes, paint the nails sometimes.

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  17. Julie, it helps to remember everyone struggles to balance life in this new world we live in. In the old days we were villages, but now our lives have segmented departments and they all want to be the priority! I let go of their demands and remind myself I can only do what I can do, and they'll just have to accept that.

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  18. No plans to paint my nails, but guitar playing requires I hold still, so hope that's close enough.

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  19. Ah, come on Alex. I'm sure your wife won't tell on you! We'd never know.

    Love it, Charmaine! I'll have to try it. One of the biggest reasons I don't paint my nails is because I don't have time to sit still for an hour. LOL.

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