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How to manage our time and improve our health

Lighthouse column
By: By Angela Ponivas, M.S.W. Special to The News Messenger
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Life is so very busy. 

I hear many people say they hardly have time to stop for even a minute during the day. 

A friend of mine recently shared that he didn’t have time to eat lunch and grabbed a snack from a snack machine just to try to “power through” his day. 

It’s ironic to me that this is a current societal issue, because when you think about life prior to the mid 1980s, there were more steps and more time needed to complete a given task. 

For example, we used to manually type a document, sign it and then send it through the U.S. Postal Service for delivery. A contract might take a week or longer to execute, but today, we can finalize a contract in an hour with scans and e-mail. 

In the early 80’s, there was no e-mail, and if you wanted to reach someone by telephone, you left a message and waited until they got back to you. 

Today, the average person receives and responds to more than 100 e-mails within a day.

Everyone has a cell phone and most are expected to be reachable by phone or text at any given moment. 

One would think that the advances in technology would cause life to become more manageable and give us more time for balance, but for many, it’s like a treadmill that’s difficult to exit. 

However, if we do not learn to manage the stress and responsibility in our lives, it will take a great toll on our minds and our health. 

So, how do we manage our lives in a healthier, more effective way?

1) Stop pushing.

Stop trying to do everything as quickly and as perfectly as possible, and remind yourself to breathe. 

2) Stop digging deep.

In her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” Brene Brown writes about the "dig-deep" button.

"The dig-deep button is a secret level of pushing through when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and when there's too much to do and too little time for self-care."

Have you had a day, like my friend, when your body and mind scream to stop but you continue to push to try to get one last thing done? How about just not doing it? Outlaw the use of the button and only reserve it for true emergencies.

3) Leave space in your schedule for rest.

Give your body time to rest.  Try to calendar rest days, where you can slow down, not take calls and have relaxing, personal time. I truly believe a Sabbath day is built into many religions because it is best for our mental and physical health.

4) Stop rushing.

We waste so much precious cortisol and adrenaline (the key stress hormones) by rushing. Leaving just a few minutes too late so that you're watching the clock, weaving through traffic and trying to make every light to beat time can increase your stress hormones. What a difference it makes to not be in a rush, to be completely relaxed while driving somewhere. Giving yourself five extra minutes can totally change your experience while giving your body a huge gift. Save your stress hormones for real stress, not unnecessary stress that you create for yourself.

5) Don't withdraw all that is in your account.

As you get more rest and start to rebuild your reserves, you’ll gain more energy. However, just because you have more energy doesn't mean you need to spend it all. It’s like not spending all the money in your bank account just because it's there.  Strive to store a little in your savings account.

Again, life is busy and demanding.  Everyone wants things quickly and there’s tremendous pressure to perform but the better we become at managing our time and keeping first things first – ourselves - the healthier, happier and more productive we will be.

In the end, those who surround you will be happy that you made this choice. 

 

Angela Ponivas, M.S.W., is the Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center’s executive director. Her phone is 645-3300; address is 427 A St., Suite 400; and Web site is lighthousefrc.com.