Stress, Stressors, and Time

Are You Stressed-Out About Time?

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

Thinking About Time Stress

Yesterday's the past,
tomorrow's the future,
but today is a gift.
That's why it's called the present.

Bil Keane
Thinking about stress and stressors means thinking about time. Are you stressed-out because you think don't have enough time to do what you have to do or to do what you want to do? (The following excerpt is from Stress Relief That Works.)
Stress, Stressors, and Time

Stress and Time

Of all the stressors in our contemporary world, one that afflicts many of us is the perception that we don't have enough time to do what we "have to do" and we can't spare the time to do what we "want to do." This is why thinking about stressors means thinking carefully about your relationship with time. How do your thoughts about time create stress in your life?

One characteristic of stress is impatience. Impatience tells you that you don't have enough time. Impatience is the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll's book, Alice in Wonderland,  rushing through life proclaiming:

Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late.

In Disney's animated version, the White Rabbit sings a little song:

I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!

Is this you? Do you go through life proclaiming, "I'm late, I'm late, I'm late" for just about everything you do? A dominant verb of the "I'm late, I'm late, I'm late" perspective on life is that you have to grab things because you're running so fast to get things done. How many times have you seen this in advertising? Because you're so busy, busy, busy, you can grab and go, eat and run. Since you don't have time to cook a real meal, you can pop frozen dinners into the microwave.

Does your to-do list stretch from now to forever? Are you always behind schedule, behind quota, always late? Who set the time schedule? Did you? Did someone else tell you that "you have to" get it done? If you can't manage to keep on time according to your own timetable of doing it faster, you're setting yourself up to feel that you're constantly failing. "I'm late, I'm late, I'm late" creates a daily experience of stress.

If you spend your life rushing and grabbing, always on the go, and always telling yourself that you're late, you're surrendering the quality of your life to an idea—a thought that rules your life—the idea that you don't have enough time.

Beliefs about Wasting Time

What are your beliefs about wasting time? Do you share the sentiment expressed in these words from the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling?:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run…

This is a tough demand. Even the idea of "distance run" conjures up the image of the runner who is running, running, running. A minute has only sixty seconds. If you have to run for sixty seconds each minute, you have no time for anything else.

Although "If" is a rousing poem, this relationship with time sets an impossible objective. It's a belief based on the idea that if you aren't "doing something productive," you're wasting time. A question worth asking is NOT whether you're running every moment of your life, but whether you're living—truly living—your life. Can you live your life well if you keep running, running, running, filling every minute with activity? Or do Kipling's words define a life that's poorly lived?

[Original Post November 30, 2015]

If you are feeling stressed-out and want to read the whole book, Stress Relief That Works: How To Think Your Way from Stressed-Out to Peaceful is available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy right away!

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