Stress: Crazy Busy No More

Stress: Crazy Busy No More

Do you ever wonder why the workaholic is an admired addict, when other addictions are scorned?

Jimmy Buffett’s song asks, “What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?”

“Stressed is desserts spelled backward.”—Brian Luck Seaward

This article will provide information to help you achieve ultimate business success without being “crazy busy.” These suggestions can help you prevent stress from stealing your energy, health, and productivity.

The first step

Congratulations for taking the time to read this article. If you are a successful businessperson who is often “crazy busy,” reading this is an indication that you realize “crazy busy” is an unacceptable way of living and that you are contemplating change. Staying high on stress, drama, and adrenaline (crazy busy) unfortunately is a way of life for many people. However, stress is harmful to your health. Controlling stress is as essential to a healthy lifestyle as is nutritious food and exercise.

Stress in context

These are truly stressful times. But all times are potentially stressful, are they not? Unfortunately, today’s society considers “crazy busy” as a normal, unavoidable state.

When you begin to think about becoming less busy, you may first think, “Is it possible to reduce the stress in my life?” Not only is it possible, it is critically important to do so. The benefits are worth it. The scientific community is learning more and more about the negative impact that stress has on health. Excessive stress is a drain on workplace productivity. When it comes to wellness, stress management programs are worth the investment.

What do we mean when we say, “I’m so stressed?” Stress is not real. You cannot fill a box with stress. You cannot put stress in your office rubbish barrel and throw it away. The American Institute of Stress says that no one agrees on one definition of stress, because what is stressful for one person may seem pleasurable or have little effect on others. We all react to stress differently.

If you were to ask a dozen people to define stress, explain what causes stress for them, or how stress affects them, you would likely get 12 different answers.Stress is defined as a physical, mental, and/or emotional response to an event that causes tension or an uncomfortable feeling in our body or mind. Simply put, stress is a result of a situation that has an effect on us, primarily because of how we think about it in our mind. We can choose to change how we think and therefore control the stress that we allow in our lives. 

For example, we think we must do this long “laundry list” of activities. We get so wrapped up in doing things that we lose sight of our values and priorities. Examine your “to do” list and choose only those things that are truly aligned with your most important priorities. 

Frog in boiling water  The frog in boiling water story is a wonderful analogy for what has happened to our society when it comes to the level of stress we consider acceptable. The story states that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water, then the water is slowly heated, it will not jump out. It will die. Translate the message in the story to our inability to notice and respond to a gradual increase in the stress in our lives. Smartphones, social media, instant gratification, and the arrogance of indispensability are resulting in a way of life that is increasingly stressful. The temperature of the water in our lives is reaching the boiling point.

Stress is a choice

People have lost sight of the fact they do have a choice. They can jump out of the water before it boils over and kills them like the frog. People are smarter than frogs! They can turn off their mobile phones. They can check e-mail three times per day, rather than every time a new message arrives. They can choose to more carefully select the priorities for how they use their time. Despite what you may think, you are not indispensable. 

Strategies for life management

If you are serious about reducing the stress in your life, here are some tips to help:

  • Make a commitment to reduce the stress in your life
  • Focus on the solution—do not stay tied up in the problem
  • Manage the source, or root cause, of your stress, not just the symptoms
  • Identify the root cause using the “5 whys” technique
  • Tell others about your plan to lower your stress and ask that they respect your commitment
  • Recognize that time management is a myth; instead, manage your priorities, using your time carefully and spending time on your top priorities
  • Get over guilt; set reasonable standards about what you realistically can accomplish without creating excess stress
  • Exercise your “saying no” muscles, and set boundaries that define what is and is not acceptable
  • Monitor your productivity and compare your priorities to how you actually spend your time—dawdling on social media sites, surfing the Internet, or taking personal phone calls will mean you will end up working late to get your project completed and miss out on family time
  • Do not forget self-care comes first, helping you to better manage those excessively busy days without “losing it”


Self-coaching tips

These tips also may help:

  • Start today by taking control of your stress
  • Focus on your top three priorities:

○ Write them down

○ Notice how you spend your time

○ Eliminate everything that is not a real priority when you are too busy

  • Select two tips from this article, and choose another after you have mastered the first two selected


References and additional readings

American Institute of Stress website. Accessed October 28, 2015.

Bornko J. Inner Peace for Busy People: 52 Simple Strategies for Transforming Your Life. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House; 2001.

Contributed by Jean Caton, MS, MBA, RD

Review date: 10/27/15

Updated by staff

Connect With Us

see the latest from Fleet Feet Rochester