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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Take Back Your Time!

By January 20, 2013

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National 'Take Back Your Time' Week is January 21-25 this year. I'm keeping you up on some of the observances and holidays that you might otherwise miss, as they relate to stress management. You can read more about my philosophy behind it in this blog post about Emotional Awareness Month.

Do you find yourself spending most of your life doing things you must do: things for other people, things for your job, things to keep your life running, things, things, things? How many of these things are done to bring a smile to your face and enjoyment to your life? Or, put another way, how much of your daily life is actually fun?

If you're like most people these days, you're overworked and overly stressed. People are working longer hours, and are needing to remain more focused as they deal with downsizing and an economic crunch that's being tangibly felt. And feeling overworked can take a heavy toll and lead to burnout. (Burnout can be brought on by a combination of long work hours, unpredictable job requirements, and a few other burnout risk factors that many people are experiencing with increasing frequency these days.)

Partially as a way to stave off burnout, and partially as a means to relieve general stress and make life more enjoyable and meaningful, I recommend that we all celebrate 'National Take Back Your Time Week' by culling our schedules, cutting out some unnecessary drudgery, and replacing it not with more unnecessary drudgery or reruns on t.v., but with revitalizing, life-affirming, or just plain fun activities that will soothe our souls and bring us more smiles. (See this related post for fun ideas.)

"That sounds great, Elizabeth, but where do we begin?" you may ask. This is the difficult part of the equation, of course, which often keeps people from making changes in their lives. Don't let this hurdle discourage you! Sometimes it's easy to see what time drains can be plugged--if you're watching several hours of television per night and getting no exercise, an obvious change can be made there. Sometimes time can be created by being more efficient in your everyday activities--taking shortcuts while fixing meals, or multi-tasking (but not too much).

Other times, difficult decisions must be made and certain activities must be dropped to make enough space for you to have a life-affirming hobby or maintain a healthy habit--ingredients for a stress relieving lifestyle. This can be a challenge, akin to de-cluttering your lifestyle; however, it's important to realize that when you don't make time for self-nurturing and just plain fun in your life, you're trading away the enjoyable life that you could have for a life that drains you without replenishing your emotional energy. You're choosing more stress, and perhaps the negative effects that come with chronic stress. When you think of it that way, it may be easier to cut out enough 'have to' activities in your schedule to add a few 'want to' activities.

The following articles can help you carve out some space in your schedule--to 'Take Back Your Time'!--so you can have more room for fun and stress relief in your life:

What are your best time management tips? How might you free up 30 minutes or two hours? Put your best ideas here in the comments!

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