When chaos strikes and your stress and workload increase, what’s the first thing to go in your life? Is it easy for you to keep healthy habits, or do they fall by the wayside? Do you toss the salads and order burgers and fries instead? Do you skip the free weights and do 12-ounce lifting for a while?
Staying up late backfires
Maybe your sleep schedule changes. You stay up later than you normally would. It makes it harder to get up on time, to think, and to get things done the next day, but it seems like a good idea at the time. You’re trying to get things done, after all, so you push and push, until you’re no longer getting good results, and you’ll pay for it the next day (or two). You may even run up against the Law of Counterproductivity, where you’re so fatigued you make mistakes that undo the work you’ve done.
A steady pace and a regular routine are more productive in the long run than pushing to the limit is. Leaving a little gas left in your proverbial tank, or, to put it another way, conserving some “spoons” for the next day is wise. Some call this “margin.”
Margin is important for keeping stress levels at a manageable level. It’s all too easy to take on too many tasks, leave ourselves with no time to take a breath, and wear ourselves out. It doesn’t do anyone any good in the long run if we don’t keep healthy habits, no matter how noble our motives. Things often take longer than we expect them to, and if we don’t leave some margin, we’ll be stressed in no time.
Keep healthy habits to combat stress
It’s not always possible to leave margin in your schedule, though. Sometimes there are urgent needs, or big projects that have short deadlines, and we have to devote a large amount of time to them. So how can we combat stress during those times when it’s just not feasible to leave plenty of time in our schedules to rest? Here are a few ideas that might help:
- Exercising, even if it’s just for a minute
- Eating some raw fruits and vegetables
- Drinking more water than normal
- Taking sublingual B complex
- Sticking with a worship schedule
- Praying through the day
- Breaking tasks into chunks and celebrating milestones
Once the pile of stress has been dispatched, it’s a good time to work that margin back into the schedule. It’s time to build a buffer against stress. For some people, it will include creative pursuits such as writing or painting. For others, it’s going to be trips to the gym. Whatever your cup of tea is, indulge in it. Take good care of yourself. It will pay off in the long run.