Are you self-creating stress?

My happy place. I always make time to get out in nature with the dogs.

My happy place. I always make time to get out in nature with the dogs.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about balance, and my constant struggle to find it. Especially right now, with the month of May being full of birthdays, camping, trips and other activities. My weekends are pretty much booked full for the next two months. Part of me is excited by all these fun things and experiences I get to be a part of, but the other part is wondering how I’m going to find the time to take care of general chores, tackle yard work, write blog posts, write my regular freelance articles, help my online fitness clients, work at my 9-5 job, and make time for family and self care.

According to the American Psychological Association, busyness is the reason why the majority of American’s have high stress levels that interferes with their health, and as author Scott Dannemiller points out in this Huffington Post piece, the majority of the stress we experience is brought on ourselves:

Dr. Michael Marmot, a British epidemiologist, has studied stress and its effects, and found the root causes to be two types of busyness. Though he doesn’t give them official names, he describes the most damaging as busyness without control, which primarily affects the poor. Their economic reality simply does not allow for downtime. They have to work two to three jobs to keep the family afloat. When you add kids to the mix, it becomes overwhelming, and the stress results in legitimate health problems.

The second type of busyness also results in health problems, but it is a sickness we bring on ourselves. Like voluntarily licking the door handle of a preschool bathroom or having a sweaty picnic in the Ball Pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

It’s busyness we control.

Self-created stress.

I definitely think I self-create the majority of my stress.

But busyness does not have to mean stress if we reframe the way we think about it. I need to let that part of me that feels excited for experiences — for a full life — take over instead of letting that nagging voice of busyness seep in every time someone invites me to a get-together or new plans are made on a weekend where no solid plans existed. Of course you have you find a balance between downtime and scheduled activities, because laundry still has to be done, bills have to be paid, and quiet time is needed to rest andΒ  recharge (especially for us introverts).

I have to admit, this past year I’ve gotten a lot better at saying “no” to extra paid work and events I’m not fully interested in, and have all but stopped feeling guilty about it. It’s something I’ve had to work hard on, and I think I’m at a place now where I can manage everything I’m doing without having a meltdown. Even though I have something going on every weekend this month, I’m not feeling as concerned or stressed about it as I normally would with all my side projects and other things going on — thanks in part to having more of an appreciation for experiences and realizing I don’t have to “do it all” or have things go perfectly as planned. Only blogged once this week? Meh. Didn’t get around to washing the floors on Sunday? I’ll do it next week. Haven’t sat down to meditate in over two months? Running is my meditation, and I still do that twice a week — but I did fit in all my workouts, ate well 80% of the time, did a few yard chores I enjoyed, got to bed early all week, walked the dogs a few times and spent quality time with my loved ones. You win some, you lose some. And I’m totally okay with that.

What’s on your mind this Thursday? Do you self-create the majority of your stress? Does busyness stress you out or make your life full? How have you found balance?

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Thanks Amanda for the link-up πŸ™‚