How to stop feeling guilty about the things you don’t get done

Even without the holidays upon us, it can often seem like there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Add in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and it isn’t surprising that many people find themselves completely frazzled instead of festive.

Why do we stress ourselves out so much? Often it’s because of an overflowing to-do list. Each incomplete item on that list carries with it a whole load of guilt. Why, though? Will the world truly come to an end if we don’t have all our lights up by the Friday after Thanksgiving or every gift wrapped and bowed by the first week of December? Of course not.

While certainly, everyone has priorities, stressing over every to-do can leave us with no time left to take joy in the good times in life. Sometimes it’s best to be like Elsa and just let that stuff go!


Life Is Not a Competition

One of the biggest sources of stress for many people is the effort to not just keep up with the Joneses, but to knock them out of the park. The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to be better than anyone else. When you start seeing life as an adventure to be experienced instead of a competition, your stress levels may begin to melt away.


Downtime Matters

Too often, people equate having idle time with being lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, taking adequate downtime is one of the keys to performing at your best.

Making time to relax results in a more balanced level of cortisone — the body’s stress hormone. Too much cortisone can leave one feeling perpetually on edge. In addition, psychologically-speaking, downtime allows our minds a chance to play, and this can seriously boost our creative power. Oftentimes, just taking a break can lead to innovative new solutions, as resting from focusing on the problem at hand allows the mind to look at the entire situation in a new light.

So prioritize downtime for yourself! Set aside at least 15 – 30 minutes of day of unstructured time to be spent resting, practicing yoga or meditation, or simply losing yourself in a good TV program. Should feelings of guilt start to nag, remember that this downtime is necessary to reach peak performance when you are on the clock.


Is It Stress or Anxiety?

If the mere thought of slowing down, let alone stopping to smell the roses, makes your heart pound and your palms grow sweaty, consider whether or not you’re dealing with simple stress due to trying to do too much or if you’re suffering from an underlying anxiety disorder. Oftentimes, anxiety presents in subtle ways.

If you find yourself unable to relax, combined with other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, easily startling, difficulty falling or staying asleep, unusually heavy sweating, or regular headaches, ask yourself if anxiety could be the culprit. Talk to a physician if you think this may be the case. Should you be diagnosed with anxiety, know that many treatments are available.


Surround Yourself with Positive People

Another reason for unhealthy levels of stress can come from the people with whom we associate. Some of this may be unavoidable; for example, unless you are the boss, you likely do not get to choose your coworkers. Whenever possible, though, surrounding oneself with positive people results in a far brighter outlook overall.

Seek the company of those who seem to handle even difficult matters with calmness and aplomb. Much can be said about learning from example, and spending time with those who live by the same kinds of values we do can teach us valuable coping skills to use in our own lives. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, too. Oftentimes, people struggle beneath heavy burdens simply because they fail to ask for a helping hand when needed.


Remember, You Are Good Enough

Finally, bear the following in mind: if the measure of one’s individual worth was truly measured by one’s productivity, many fast food workers would be worthy of billionaire status while many actual billionaires would find themselves barely worth minimum wage.

There is a limit to what one person can accomplish in one day, one week, or one month. Stop beating yourself up for not being a superhuman, and instead, take the time to celebrate even minor accomplishments. Make it through the work week without a single episode of stress-induced road rage during your commute? Honour that accomplishment with a nice bath or a few extra minutes in the spa at the gym. Take a load off, and enjoy this crazy ride we call life!

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