STRESS Made Easy - 3

"Slow down or you will get hurt" she said, "Take your time or you'll make a mistake" he said, "Less haste, less waste" they said. "What do these people know about me" I said. Parents, they know nothing about today's busy life. Probably not, but their advice stands the test of time.

It is all great advice to get up early and exercise to start the day, to have a list of tasks so that you can remain focussed, to have a diary of your day's appointments, to have a coffee date with a colleague, to be involved in a club or committee, to volunteer for a community group, and the list goes on.

The busier we get the busier we get. No, that's not a grammatical error, the busier we get, the busier we get. A classic example; those people who get up early to go to the gym or to meditate or to do some recreational activity before work. Ever noticed how you tend to wake up earlier and earlier each day? I did it, I was going to the gym at 6am, then at 5.30, then at 5. All the time telling myself I can cram more into my day.

The busier we get the better we feel. Why, adrenaline. Our adrenal glands produce adrenaline by transforming tyrosine into dopamine. What's dopamine, a 'feel good' chemical that is associated with our reward system. The bad side of dopamine, it destroys your health with overuse.

Suddenly, the list of tasks that we made becomes obsolete, our appointment schedule is out the window, when we have coffee with a colleague we talk solely about work or maybe cancel it altogether, we start to skip club meetings or arrive late, and spend less and less time in our passion, community work. Does this sound like you?

As we get busier and faster we start to do many things at once and often it takes us longer because we make mistakes or do them badly. As we make mistakes we work harder to correct the errors and so more mistakes occur because we are rushing. Slow down, just slow down.

If you need to get something done quickly, by all means go for it. But don't rush it, control yourself. I was fortunate enough to have worked with the most elite tactical groups in the police, military, prisons, and with the FBI. They all used the same mantra - "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast". Say this to yourself when you an urgent task to take care of, watch how fast you get it done.

It is important to break the 'busyness' habit. How, mindfulness. Not mindfulness in the traditional sense. In our topic of 'busyness' this means concentrating on doing one thing at one time and doing it well. Keep your brain focussed on the one task at hand.

What else can you do to slow yourself down? Have 30-minutes of 'you time'. Spend just 30-minutes doing what you want to do, doing something that makes you happy. Try not to have any external stimulation such as a phone, music, driving, or some other distraction. Just you, in your own thoughts, for thirty minutes.

I am sorry to have to tell you this, the world will keep going without you for that thirty minutes. It's all about perspective.