Stress is inevitable. We all feel it. We all try to ignore it. We all succumb to it eventually.
Instead of letting your stress control your life, you can take control of its effects. This guide explains how to schedule your stress so that you can manage the chaos to come.
What We Mean by “Schedule Your Stress”
One reason your stress may feel unmanageable is that you’re trying to ignore it rather than embrace it. If you let your stress pile up, it’s going to hit you when you least expect it. We’re proposing that you allot specific times for stressful activities, so you can brace yourself for the emotions that follow.
Researchers have studied the effects of “stimulus control” on people with anxiety and insomnia. They found that 30 minutes of planned worry time reduced the effects of anxiety, insomnia, and overall stress. Study participants had a pre-determined time and place for their stressors each day, and at the end of two weeks, they felt more in control of their worries.
How awesome would it be knowing that you are only going to be stressed out for half an hour in the morning? You won’t have to spend the whole day knowing something stressful is coming up. You have a designated time for stressful activities, which means you can process your emotions from start to finish.
Scheduling predictable stress makes it easier to handle unpredictable events. You’ve worked through your emotions as much as possible, so you have more room to process new feelings. This is not a foolproof method, but it does make stress more manageable overall.
Why You Should Schedule Your Stress Early in the Day
You can schedule stressful encounters for any time, but early in the day works best for most people. This gives you less time to dread what’s to come and more time to feel relief in your accomplishments. If you schedule the stress too close to bedtime, you’ll likely be up most of the night worried about it. Get the worries out of the way in the morning to set yourself up for a great afternoon.
Set Boundaries to Make Stress More Manageable
In addition to scheduling your stress, you should put boundaries in place to reduce the risk of unscheduled stressors. For example, you may set a firm boundary for when you stop answering work calls, texts, and emails. If anyone tries to reach you outside of those hours, ignore the outreach and respond the following day. The stress that may have disrupted your evening is now pushed into the next day’s stress window, giving your brain the rest it needs to handle what’s to come.