Calling on all procrastinators! Did you know that planning can relive your stress? Wow, ground breaking news isn’t it? Now, for all of you type A control freaks like me, we already know the best way to avoid getting bogged down is to be prepared, create lists upon lists, and to make everyone else around us know how ready we really are. But that in itself can also be stressful.
In 2011, a self-help author, Robert Epstein conducted a study that determined that 25% of our happiness depends on how well we are able to manage stress. During his study he determined that the stress management technique that was most effective at reducing stress was planning. According to Epstein, there are benefits to “fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen.” He also states, “That means planning your day, your year and your life so that stress is minimized.”
Most of us have good intentions. Meal planning has been a personal goal of mine for some time. Although I am not at the point where I plan for the week ahead and get all of my shopping done on the weekend, at least four of my family’s dinners are pre-planned each week. That is a big improvement from trying to decide what to make at 5:15 pm when everyone is a hungry. So for me, that is a big success and it has certainly reduced my stress. It’s important to celebrate the little things and recognize them. It helps us learn behaviours that we want to repeat, and avoid the ones we don’t.
Take some time to assess what causes you to scramble and feel frazzled. Write down the last-minute tasks that stress you out and one at a time start planning how you will tackle it next time. It could be as simple as packing your lunch the night before or laying out your career goals for the next five years.
When planning your time, set aside specific days for shopping, cooking, visiting friends and other activities. Planning ahead can also mean that you can enlist help from people when you need it. You can also see some financial savings from planning. When we are pressed for time and have to shop, we sometimes make poor purchasing decisions or don’t have the opportunity to shop for the best deals.
Remember, planning is prevention. Speaking of planning, I know it’s only September, but have you started your holiday shopping yet?