We live in a unique time. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived relatively simple lives compared to the lives we lead today. For the most part, our ancestors’ lives were free from daily stressors; the greatest stress they faced was possibly getting chased by a wild animal. Otherwise they lived within small communities with few daily responsibilities other than finding their next meal. Today, on the other hand, we are constantly bombarded with stress. From the moment we set our alarms at night, we begin our next day with this age’s silent killer: stress.
So how can we prevent stress from having such a large impact on our lives? Here are 3 ways to stay productive when you’re stressed.
Have a Mindful Morning
When our alarms blare in the morning, our brains are blasted from a state of sleep from a state of shock, which is a rough way to begin your day. The reason why we begin our next day stressed from the time we set our alarms the night before is because of anticipatory stress. Anticipatory stress is caused by a feeling of impending doom and anxiety when thinking about a future event. This stress spreads throughout your body, which is why you often feel tired and groggy the next day.
Making time for mindfulness in your morning will allow you to reset your day with rest and rejuvenation. Mindfulness in your morning includes waking up with time to have a healthy breakfast, a good exercise, time to journal, and a moment to meditate before you begin your day. This will allow you to regain control of the beginning of your day and remain productive throughout your daily responsibilities.
Fight Procrastination by Eliminating Perfectionism
When people think of procrastination, often they attribute it to being lazy. However, procrastination has been found to be less of a result of laziness rather than a symptom of perfectionism. As we feel stressed, we build up our own expectations of completing a task or project. Therefore, we will sometimes procrastinate our responsibility until we feel we can do it perfectly, which then results in further stress.
Brené Brown has said, “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” Part of fighting procrastination is by accepting that failure is part of the journey to achieve greatness. Set goals to complete your tasks throughout your day and relieve yourself of the pressure to do each task perfectly. As you work to understand that failure is a necessary part of the process, you will be better able to make small—albeit imperfect—strides to accomplishing what you need to do. You can be more disciplined in your energy, time, and efforts to perform your responsibilities with greater ease.
Consume Media With Care
A major issue many are seeing these days is burnout. Burnout is a state of losing all interest, motivation, and incentive, often due to chronic stress. A large culprit of burnout is excessive media consumption and screen time. Unique to our age, we have information at our fingertips at all hours. Subsequently, this means we are constantly being bombarded with stressful messages and news. This fills our day with repetitive stress triggers which can feel nearly impossible to avoid.
As you plan for your day, set aside time to be free of screens and media consumption. When do you use your phone, watch a show, or read the news, be mindful as you do so. Give yourself time to be mindful between screen usage to allow the stress triggers to calm. Doing so will allow your body to better return to a restful state. We can choose to consume mindfully and intentionally to lessen stress triggers and be more productive throughout our day.
Staying Productive in an Era of Stress
While we may not have to worry as much as our ancestors about getting chased by a wild animal, we have our own share of stress triggers in our day. However, we also have more resources and research to assist us in our efforts to remain productive in a stressful society. As we prioritize mindfulness in the day, we will live more intentional, healthy, and productive lives.
ABOUT DR. PATRICK PORTER:
Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D., is an award-winning author and speaker who has devoted his career to neuroscience and brainwave entrainment. As the creator of BrainTap®, Dr. Porter has emerged as a leader in the digital health and wellness field. BrainTap’s digital tools and apps bring mindfulness and meditation practices to the next level and have made tremendous advances in helping mental, physical, and emotional health issues.
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