Reduce the Stress of March Madness
14 Mar, 2017
It’s almost spring, and with it comes the beautiful songs of birds in the trees, kids playing outside and neighborhood sounds of mowers and rakes. And, if you’ve got basketball fans in your house, add to that the noise of TV announcers discussing brackets, fans cheering in packed basketball arenas, and the squeak of players’ shoes on shiny court floors.
The “Madness” of this month is truly exciting – with bracket-forming, team-cheering, and plenty of office discussion. However, March can also bring a truly different kind of madness. Between Spring Break planning, quarter-end deadlines, preparing for school finals, the impending Tax Day and the mountain of Spring Cleaning you’re itching to get to, March Madness starts to take on a whole new meaning.
How should we handle feelings of being overwhelmed as they come? What do we do when our to-do list is so long, we barely have time to read it, much less tackle its content? Fortunately, we have some relief to offer.
NO, we can’t come over to dust your blinds or file your taxes, but we do have some suggestions to calm your inner March Madness.
- Mindful Meditation – You probably know the feeling all too well: you arrive at the office with a clear plan for the day and then, in what feels like just a moment, you find yourself on your way back home. Eight or nine hours have passed but you’ve accomplished only a few of your priorities. And, most likely, you can’t even remember exactly what you did all day. First, start off your day right. Researchers have found that we release the most stress hormones within minutes after waking. Why? Because thinking of the day ahead triggers our fight-or- flight instinct and releases cortisol into our blood.
Try this: When you wake up, spend two minutes in your bed simply noticing your breath. As thoughts about the day pop into your mind, let them go and return to your breath.
Next, when you get to the office, take 10 minutes to boost your brain with a short mindfulness practice. Close your eyes and sit upright. Place your focus on your breath. Experience your breathing: inhale, exhale; inhale; exhale. To keep your attention from wandering, count silently at each exhalation. Most important, allow yourself to enjoy these minutes. Throughout the rest of the day, other people and competing urgencies will fight for your attention. But these ten minutes are all your own.
- Just how busy are you . . . really? Consider that the average American uses their mobile phone for a staggering 4.7 hours per day, including checking social media 17 times per day; and playing mobile games for over 30 minutes as well. If you’re like many people, you don’t even think about all the times you check your phone or play a mobile game.
As we know, a quick Facebook visit can turn into one spirited chat with a friend, four quick videos on how to make something out of nothing, which of course you never have time to do anyway. If you make the first four hours of your day phone-free, you might be pleasantly surprised at the amount of work you can accomplish.
- “What gets scheduled, gets done.” If you want to get something done, write it in your planner. Once you plan something it’s difficult to avoid doing it. If you find you are still ignoring a task, ask yourself whether it’s really important. Planning your tasks is the best way to avoid been pulled in all directions by your own distracted mind, or by others looking for your time and attention. If you have allotted an hour for a project and someone comes looking for your help, you will be more likely to tell them to call back later or to schedule a time to speak to them.
March’s madness, indeed! Busyness is sometimes inevitable. However, keep in mind that there are some ways that you can take control of your schedule, and keep it under control. With fewer things to clutter your to-do list, you might actually be able to step outside and enjoy the beautiful sounds of spring.
In health and happiness,