Relationships Suffer When You're Stressed with Success
Tips and Advice To Keep You Physically, Mentally, and Sexually Healthy
Dear April Masini,
When I tell people about my life, it sounds great – I’ve accomplished so much -- but the truth is, I’m always stressed, I’m always treading water to stay afloat, and if I take half a day off – even during the weekend – to play, I fall behind. How can I get my life back?"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Success Stressed:
Whoever said, “You can do it all -- and have it all,” didn’t have children – and had a lot of domestic and secretarial help!
Doing too much is a huge problem today, more than ever, and the results can be as tragic as stress related heart attacks and other injuries, or exhaustion related accidents. Short of those kinds of acute injuries and health problems, relationships can fall apart from the stress of doing too much, and the long term result of doing too much can be long term – or chronic --- stress – both physically and emotionally. (Read more about relationship stress)
Why Do We Do Too Much?
Women are naturally caretakers, and they would very often rather take on too much to make other people happy than not take on too much and watch others be unhappy.
Women are often afraid of conflict, and would rather say yes to taking on too much, than saying no, and having to deal with disappointment or confrontation by the one they are saying no to.
Beasts of burden. Men are often expected to earn a living, help with housework and child-care in the age of double income with kid families. Rather than stop working when they feel stressed, they often just keep going, working through pain, exhaustion and very, very bad moods. (Check out some great relaxing gifts like a massage chair for the man in your life.)
Women often take on too much when it comes to work, raising children, and having a romantic relationship with a husband because they want a beautiful home, car, vacations, etc. rather than taking on less work and having less.
Children are over-scheduled by parents who want what they think is the best for their kids, so they sign them up for pottery, horseback riding, French lessons, boy scouts, girl scouts, religious school, little league, and book clubs. And don’t forget the expectation to get good grades, too!
Fear of failure. We become so invested in succeeding that we become committed to succeeding – at any price. The “Just Do It” folks never meant for you to just do it – even if it means your marriage or your relationship is going to crumble, or your blood pressure is going to shoot sky high. At least, I don’t think they did. (Read more about fear and how to get rid of it.)
We forget what success is. More is more, but it isn’t always the most. Sometimes having less things and more time with a loved one is success. Sometimes having a house you built yourself is more than a mansion that someone else built. Sometimes being President of a company, but having a nanny raise your kids is less than being a gym teacher part time, and raising your one child alone. Regardless, there is no right or wrong – but there is a personal answer that only you can come up with.
Do Less – and Get More Done
Ever spread yourself so thin that you got a little of fifteen projects started, but none completed? In that same amount of time, I bet you could complete and do a great, focused, job on three or even four projects. In fact, if you find that you’re addicted to list making – but not list crossing off, you may be a perfect candidate for scaling down, and getting more done.
Some people are able to work really well on multiple peripheral projects at one time, but most people are linear and need to complete one project at a time in order to do a good job. What keeps you from completing that one project?
The looming list! Knowing you have A LIST of things to do…can be like the sound of one violin string eerily playing in the background, a reminder that even when you finish what you’re doing now, you’re still not done! In fact, you have so much to do on that list, there’s no way you can get it all done in one day, one week or even one month!
Lists that multiply like rabbits. You have a list on your computer at work, your laptop at home, your palm pilot, your date book – and yellow sticky notes with reminders of other things to do keep cropping up everywhere! You’re surrounded by lists! Before you shriek for help, cure your list-mania by paring down to ONE list in the house and ONE list that you keep at work or carry around with you.
Focus. Don’t pick up the telephone. For some people it’s really hard not to pick up a ringing phone, answer a paging beeper, run for the mail or open e-mail as it comes in. All these faux chores can amount to procrastination tools.
Tips and Advice for Not Doing Too Much
Here are a few tips and pieces of advice to keep you healthy -- physically and emotionally:
See the big picture. Saying yes to volunteer situations, helping family members and taking on work projects may make you a hero in someone’s eyes for the moment, but what will happen when you can’t get everything done? You have a limited amount of waking hours. Keep in mind the best way to schedule your life. Include naps, down time, and meals that are eaten sitting -- not standing over a sink.
Don’t say yes out of fear. What are you afraid will happen if you say no to taking on more? Many people say yes because they are afraid that someone may think less of them when they say no. Where’s your self-esteem on the ego thermometer today? Who are you really taking care of when you agree to do something? If it’s not you, then what pay off do you get by taking care of someone else beside yourself? Remember -- if you have a husband, a boyfriend or children, whatever parts of yourself you give away to others, leaves less for your "family." And the weaker your family is, the less you have to give to other people.
Practice saying no without judgment. No doesn’t have to mean, "I don’t like you," "I disrespect you," or "I think you’re an unattractive person." No can be a simple business decision. It can be a simple decision made about your metabolism and daily sleep needs. It can be a mature decision based on reality -- rather than fantasy -- or what you would like to be able to do, but as a mere mortal, can’t. Next time there’s a call for volunteers, sit on your hands, and don’t you dare raise them. See what it feels like, and try it again!
Consider your values. Do you believe that someone who does more work is more worthy than someone who does less work? Is someone who works “smart” and efficiently, more worthy than someone who would rather use a paper and typewriter instead of a computer because they like the old fashioned feel of the key action? Loosen up about your values, and watch the world open up to you!
Make sure you find time to work on relationships as well. For some great first date ideas to get back in the game, check out my book Ideas for a Fun Date.