Inspiration 5 Stress Management Tips for When You’re Feeling Swamped Sometimes the only way out is through, so it helps to have tools to dig By Gregory Parks As much as I’ve tried, I still find myself swamped. Buried, harried, and trudging ahead with fuzzy focus, I find myself relishing the few moments I get to myself in my apartment. The end is in sight, but it’s still off in the distance. As deep as I am in projects right now, I find that keeping these stress management tips in mind helps me weather the maelstrom: 1. Assess. Take some time to figure out where you stand. Learn where your conflicts are or might be and try to manage them in advance if possible. 2. Be open about it. Being up front with friends, supervisors, or team members about your decreased capacity is an act of responsibility. It reduces the chance for springing an eleventh hour surprise on people who have been depending on you, which could likely lead to greater stress—or to an even bigger blow to your ego, if that’s a motivator for you. 3. Pull back. If you can’t completely eliminate some of the commitments you’re juggling, see if you might be able to pull back a bit. You probably don’t have to head every subcommittee. You might not be needed at every rehearsal. And someone might be willing and available to cover for your class a couple of times. 4. Say “No” more. Give yourself time to recover and regain your balance and focus. Saying “Yes” might not have gotten you into your current predicament—after all, sometimes things time out and line up in a wonky way—but it isn’t likely to help by adding more to your plate. 5. Remember to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, be sure to eat, and if you can find or make time to do an activity you enjoy, do it. If not, find some moments where you can pause for a bit and breathe and stretch a little or maybe perform a short sequence of yoga poses. At times, it’s difficult to rein in the type-A behavior and we find ourselves tied to a to-do list that’s neck deep. Sometimes the only way out is through, so it helps to have tools to dig. Photo by Flickr user meganleetz. — Contributing writer Gregory Parks is a clown, improvisational actor, coach, and teacher living and thriving in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.