How Time Management Helps with Stress and Anxiety
a guest post by mental health and wellness writer Aly Semigran
“There aren’t enough hours in the day.”
It’s a sentiment felt by a lot of people in our increasingly busy, work-a-day world. Time can feel like an especially daunting part of daily life for those struggling with stress and anxiety.
Whether it’s looming work deadlines or running late for just about everything (lunch dates, doctors appointments, and train schedules, just to name a few), time seems to be getting the best of you, right?
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, time management not only makes your everyday tasks easier, but as a result it can improve overall feelings of stress and anxiety.
Stress can be mental, physical, and/or emotional response to a person feeling like they are struggling to cope with demands. These demands can come from personal and/or professional settings, as well as our day-to-day activities and responsibilities.
While some stress can be a good motivator, long-term stress can have major effects on a person’s health.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a mental health disorder in which those feelings of worry, anxiety, fear, and yes, stress, are strong enough to interfere with a person’s daily life and overall well-being. Anxiety cannot be cured, but it can be treated with things like therapy, medication, journaling, meditation, exercise, healthy sleeping habits, and healthy eating habits
Because your mental and physical health is of the utmost importance, making time in your day for managing stress and anxiety can make a big difference. Lack of time management can further fuel stress and anxiety, making it a vicious cycle when it’s not maintained.
So how can you do it? Well, you can start small. If meditation is a helpful tool in your stress and anxiety management, you can make it a part of your pre-work or post-work routine. Rather than, say, turning on the television to watch the news or scroll through Facebook (which, let’s face it, is probably a cause of some of your stress, anyway), take 15 minutes to have a meditation sesh.
If meditation isn’t your thing, you can use those 15 minutes to practice yoga, play with your dog, or read a chapter that book you’ve been dying to get to. Whatever it is that will give you you time and bring you joy, make that a priority in your day.
This way, you don’t have to take on another 15 minutes to your morning, rather, you can use that time for something better and more productive to your mental well-being. Plus, those 15 minutes add up to something really big in the end. It may not seem like much at the moment, but in the grand scheme, it really is.
Another aspect of time management is using the time you have for the thing in front of you. In other words, when you are taking your lunch break, actually take your lunch break. Don’t use that time to absentmindedly eat while you also answer emails. That time should be reserved for you. Time management, in the end, is all about making time for you and your needs as a person.
When creating this new time management for yourself, you can create a calendar and/or to-do list in order to keep yourself on track and on task. You can have this on your phone or laptop, but if those things are triggers for stress, it may be helpful to have a physical notebook or calendar for your time management schedule.
You can also look back throughout the week to see what works and doesn’t work for you. If you need more time for your morning activities, simply bump those 15 minutes up to say, 25 or 30, and make your bedtime a little bit earlier. (Trust us, more sleep is always a good thing when it comes to managing stress and anxiety.)
If you’re balancing a lot of things in your life, be it work and school and family and relationships, it can feel like one of these things can take precedence over the others. While you may not be able to attend to matters of all these aspects of your life in a given day, you can over time. For instance, you can make it a priority that one hour a week (let’s say, 11 am on Saturday works best for you) that you hop on the phone to chat with your best friend. This way you don’t get stuck in a non-stop phone tag tug-of-war, rather, you make it a part of your schedule.
What’s most important, however, is not to be hard on yourself, especially when you’re first starting out. Self-doubt can be the root cause of, or a reaction to, stress and anxiety, so why put even more of that on yourself? The fact that you are even reading this means you want to make active strides towards better time management to relieve your stress and anxiety. That’s a huge step forward in and of itself.
You may not always hit your time management targets in a given day, week, month, or year (or you may just get side-tracked or distracted), but the continual trying is what matters. So take a deep breath, set your goals, and remember that in the end, that clock on the wall wants to work with you, not against you.
About the Author
Aly Semigran is a Philly-based writer who covers everything from mental health to pet care, from entertainment to wellness. She is a dog mom to an awesome shelter terrier named Ruby.