Micro-stress Survival Handbook

Micro-stress Survival Handbook

In today's fast-paced world, the mantra seems to be 'do more, sleep less', and as a result, we are bombarded with mini stressors that, when accumulated, lead to a full-blown burnout. And let's face it, that one week of annual vacation is nothing more than a reminder of how truly exhausted we are. It's a wake-up call that we need to tackle these stressors on a daily basis to survive in this not-so-simple world.

And guess what? Stress doesn’t play favorites. It can wreak havoc on both our professional and personal lives. So, let’s turn this into motivation to get rid of those daily stressors before they morph into a super-villain level of burnout.


Addressing the Flames of Micro-stress

(image credit:  Mohamed Nohassi)

The thing is, we rarely admit we are in stress for all kinds of “funny” reasons. So let’s do a quick check if the followings are how you feel:

  • Finding it hard to focus on one task for more than a few minutes? Well, multitasking is a skill, right?
  • Getting irritated by minor inconveniences that usually wouldn’t register? Sounds like someone’s developing a keen eye for extreme details!
  • Increasing your caffeine intake for... productivity, obviously.
  • Avoiding social interactions even with close friends or family? Well, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and your dog, sofa and bed miss me.
  • Losing interest in hobbies that usually bring you joy? It's not you, it's them, whoever the them is.
  • Procrastinating more than usual, even on essential tasks? There’s something to be said for living in the moment.
  • Feeling like you're always running out of time? Time is a social construct anyway.

The Bottom Line

(image credit: matthew-henry)

Even if you can't relate to any of these examples, they are just some common ones. The bottom line is, regardless of how your stress manifests, it's crucial to address it. If you don't have at least an hour of 'me time' daily, there is a high likelihood that you are experiencing chronic stress. That's right, one hour. I mean truly alone, not with family, friends, or colleagues - just you. 


Filtering Your Mental Chaos

(image credit:  engin akyurt)

Imagine your mental state as a glass of water. Throughout the day, various experiences - a stressful meeting, a pleasant conversation, a frustrating traffic jam, a delicious meal - are like adding different colors to your glass of clear water. Regardless of the color, it's all adding to the mixture, dirtying the purity of your clear water. Whether an event is pleasant or not, it's still stirring up your emotions and exhausting your mental and physical energy. That one hour of 'me time' is your opportunity to filter the water and get it clear again. During this time, you're not required to be productive, responsive, or anything other than completely yourself. How to spend it is a topic for another day, but as long as you're by yourself, you're on the right track. Good filter, bad filter, it’s still at least a filter. This hour is essential to help reduce micro-stressors, maintain balance, foster mental clarity, and promote emotional well-being.


Your Daytime Prescription

(image credit:  Yoann Boyer)

Set the dose

Even though you have a designated time to filter and reset. But that one hour is still just only an hour. The least impurity get added to your glass, the less murky the water become, and less to filter out in that one hour. Allocate specific times for checking emails and messages to avoid being ambushed by constant interruptions throughout the day. 


Unplugged Moments

Designate 'no-device zones' during that one hour is highly recommended. Devices are like a rod, causing disturbances that create ripples in your glass of water. When you're filtering the murkiness, the rod is invisibly causing chaotic ripples that not only slow down the filtering process but also cause disturbance. These ripples might not seem to be as obvious as murky water, but mentally, they are at least as, if not more, disruptive.


Set Clear Boundaries

Clear communication with your colleagues, friends, and family is like applying a semi-permeable filter to your glass of water. This filter controls both the type and amount of impurities that enter your water throughout the day. By managing the influx of impurities, the end-of-day filtering process becomes much more efficient and precise. The goal is to allow as few and as minimal variety of impurities as possible during the day, and to filter out as much as you can by the end of each day.

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