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Stress management – Managing your time

Kirjoittanut: Irene Lai - tiimistä SYNTRE.

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One of the words that I keep hearing the most nowadays is “stress” and I can’t help but thinking that most of the times we do not give as much chances to talk either about where it comes from and how to manage it. Instead, it is common to avoid that feeling, not to share it and not to comfort adequately the colleague, the friend, the neighbor that mentions to feel it. It is common not to know how to react when someone touches upon the issue especially going deeper into detail and into reasons why it is like that, so the best we can do is putting an “everything is going to be fine” and it becomes only easier to cut him/her off trying to change topic. COVID19 surely helped everybody feeling stressed and overwhelmed more than necessary such that “Anxiety” had been voted children’s word of the year 2021 (Mail Online website). Where the word stress come from? As Online Etymology Dictionary writes, the word stress has quite a long history: “c. 1300, “hardship, adversity, force, pressure,” in part a shortening of Middle English distress (n.); in part from Old French estrece “narrowness, oppression,” from Vulgar Latin *strictia, from Latin strictus “tight, compressed, drawn together,” past participle of stringere “draw tight” (see strain (v.)). Meaning “physical strain on a material object” is from mid-15c. As an abstract force in mechanics from 1855. The purely psychological sense is attested from 1955” (Online Etymology Dictionary). It is an abstract concept, but I am sure that everybody knows what the dictionary is talking about. That feeling of constriction, that constantly present tight pressure, that anxiety’s hold which is always lurking.  How many times you feel overwhelmed per week? If the answer is every day or almost, maybe hearing that you are not definitely the only one may sound you reassuring. The urgent need to get things done is a pressure that our complicated and full life requires us to feel. It is everybody’s everyday life, and yet I think that especially women are nowadays supposed to be holding many different positions in their life. Psychologically speaking, culture too may become an important source of stress so. Last but no least is good to recall that chronic stress has serious health implication too. A constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.
Chronic stress is associated with other disorders too, such as anxiety, depression, obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Gastrointestinal and immune systems are not immune either to other psychological and/or somatic manifestations by a chronic systemic inflammation. That said, beyond the reason and the effects that anxiety and stress can cause us, the only question now is: is there a way out and where?



Is there a survival kit? 


Of course, the first thing to do is finding the primary source of stress and to work on that, but sometimes in spite of a clear answer nothing can be made to change the situation and all the stress and the anxiety caused by that will remain there where it is. As many other things, the solution starts actually from our behavior and our attitude towards problems. The best survival kit is once again embracing all those feelings in this case too and working on them, listening to them and to ourselves. This can permit us to know what work best for us and to channel eventually this energy into something else, such a passion or a more free-ourselves-time. Speaking of that, time may be an important stress trigger too and it is common to feel defeated in planning or only having too much on its own plate. Moreover, the more stressful or unpleasant a task, the more likely everybody would be ready to postpone it and this only increases the general stress. Luckily again with the proper attitude and with the right tools everybody can get through it. There are a lot of methods out there for staying organized and people who like structure and who love planning ahead may prefer a calendar but more than that a guaranteed and an indispensable tool to manage time is a well-done to-do list. Let’s dive into it. 




Managing your time. 


Time management skills take time to develop and look different for each person, but it is possible. The trick is to organize all the tasks and to use the time effectively to get more things done each day. This can help to lower stress levels and improve productivity, professionally speaking and not. Critical to the general productivity is identifying the urgent tasks that need to get done that day. Once you know where to spend your energy, you will get things done in an order that works for you and your schedule. As mentioned before, a to-do list is what needed to make the schedule up and to structure the available time. The first thing to do is making a list of all the tasks and activities for the day or week and then rating them by how important or urgent they are. Only one list is not enough to handle everything, but three lists can be actually useful:  

  • one for urgent tasks and things that must be done immediately because of a certain deadline; 
  • one for basic but meaningful and important tasks, such as spending time with family, helping friends, or getting exercise; 
  • one for future tasks, the not-so-much important ones but still that must be done at a certain point; 

This method is good for self-motivated people with different kind of priorities who love crossing the easy items off their list and to keep them organized. It surely helps to relieve anxiety about future tasks too and to feel in general more productive and in control of things to do. Someone could find these lists and all the scheduling overwhelming itself, especially noticing that many things have to be done. A good reminder is to avoid perfectionism and to remember that not everything has to be finished right away. I personally when I use this tool am able to get more done and start tasks that I had been procrastinating. 






Our lives have become constantly challenging and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed most of the times. There are different ways of managing every day’s stress and no method is really better than the other one, but essential is finding what the best works for us. Tracking our own overall productivity and stress levels could be useful to see which method works best. The only thing to do at first is to experiment and organizing to-do lists can help prioritizing tasks, managing commitment and controlling procrastination. In addition to that, since sometimes also lack of commitment could be a source of stress, a proper to-do list might help making commitment and being more responsible. First of all, identifying the priorities and prioritizing the important tasks is fundamental. This already helps feeling more confident and more productive. It means learning what is important and recognizing our own limits. In fact, deciding how to spend your time is also avoid committing to things that are not important for you. Consider how you can redirect your time to activities that are important and meaningful. Spending too much time on things that are not important means procrastinating on more urgent ones in a long-term and it may turn into feeling frustration. There are always things that are not needed to get done at all and that are only taking time away. Learning how to manage your time, activities, and commitments can be hard, but absolutely needed because doing so can make your life easier, less stressful, and more meaningful. 








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