The pressure was building up—until I realized one very important thing—the pressure I felt was coming from myself. I didn’t promise anyone else that I would blog weekly—that was a goal I set. I realized I controlled the pressure value, and to relieve the pressure, I only had to do one simple thing—release the valve. So instead of forcing myself to blog, disinfect the house, and recover, I opted not to blog.
Did the sky fall? No. Did I loose tons of readers? Probably not. Everyone is busy. In fact, I might have been the only one that noticed. I hope people enjoy reading these posts, but they’re not anxiously staring at their calendars waiting for the next one to come out.
Instead, I fully cleaned every inch of my house. And then, exhausted, I relaxed. And I felt great. In fact, I released myself of the pressure of the blog for an extra week just so I could catch up on a few other things as well. I reminded myself that this blog is for fulfillment—not pressure. The end result of this pressure release? Restoration—and a long list of blog post ideas that came naturally instead of being forced.
All of this was an important reminder to check my pressure gauge once in a while.
Does your pressure gauge reach the warning zone? If so, here are some tips that you can use:
- Find the source of the pressure. Is the pressure external and out of your control (such as an important work deadline) or is it within your control (i.e. a self-imposed project or deadline)?
- Ask yourself if there is a simple way to let out some of the pressure. If the pressure is within your control, you can simply determine how you can adjust the pressure on yourself. If it’s an external pressure—such as a work deadline—think of creative solutions to let out some of the pressure. For example, can you ask for an extension? Extra help? Delay another to-do item so you can focus on the immediate project at hand? In some cases, the answer may be to just jump in and start doing the project versus worrying about it. You’d be surprised how often this is the case.
- Make your decision—and move on. Whatever the decision is, make it, act on it, and then move on. Don’t keep yourself in Purgatory. So what if you skipped a workout one day. If it becomes a pattern, then maybe you need to come up with a different workout plan or schedule, but don’t beat yourself up for one day. If you needed to ask for an extension at work, ask for it, and then work to meet the new deadline. Don’t spend time wondering what others are thinking—it’s a waste of time.
- If you find your pressure gauge is high most of the time, ask yourself what pattern of behavior is causing it. Maybe you’re overbooking volunteer time for your kids’ activities because it makes you feel like a better parent (Note: then read my post on volunteering.) Or perhaps you’re stressed about your job because it just really isn’t fulfilling for you (Note: then read some of the career development books on my Recommended Reading page). In these cases, you need to work to address the larger pattern. In the first scenario, you could revisit how much volunteer work you can actually handle and scale back on your commitments. If you are unhappy in your job, you can proactively search out a new one. Both examples require tough decisions and some work, but in the end, they put you back in control of your pressure valve, and that’s good for you, your family, and your work team.
- Notice how other people’s pressure valve management affects you. This one is tricky, but important. If people around you are stressed, there’s a chance that their stress pours over into your life. You need to work to manage and address this. If, for example, you start to feel your kids’ stress, teach them how to manage their stress better (maybe by sharing these tips with them). If you notice your partner’s stress affects you, have a conversation with him/her about it and work together to come up with solutions. If you find your team at work gets stressed, talk through it with them and problem solve.
These are simple tips, yet hard to remember when you’re too stressed to focus. By practicing them often—even when you’re not feeling too stressed—so they can become habits. Remember, you are in control of your pressure valve. You have the power to relieve some of the stress. Monitor your pressure gauge, and adjust the valve as necessary.
And if you were actually waiting anxiously for a blog post from me these past few weeks, I apologize. But know that I’ve done my part to stop the spread of the sick bug this cold and flu season—which is better for you in the long run 😉