Note: I’m delighted to welcome Sandra Pawula as a contributor to the Find 20 Minutes series.
What could you do with 20 free minutes?
- Bang out 500 words of your novel
- Strengthen your body with push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, toe touches, and maybe a bit of hoola hooping
- Sketch your surroundings
- Write a letter
- Weed a flower bed
- Play catch with your kids
I’ve led a very high-stress life and have suffered personal consequences: a frazzled nervous system, chronic health issues, and a deflation of joy.
When you’re on the stress treadmill and the speed seems to incrementally increase, you’re just trying to keep up and stay alive. Do you know what I mean? So I never thought for a moment how much time stress might be stealing away from the very essence of my life. But, now I see vividly that stress may be one of the worst time thieves alive.
Here’s how less stress will help you find 20 minutes and, maybe, far more:
1. Be more productive. Chronic stress can lead to fatigue, exhaustion, lack of focus and motivation, sleep deprivation, anxiety, or depression. It’s pretty hard to do your best work when you feel like a zombie, and it sure takes more time. When you’re less stressed, you’ll have the energy and enthusiasm to meet your tasks head on and finish them in record time. That leaves at least 20 minutes for lolling about or whatever else you wish.
2. Make fewer mistakes. Chronic stress can impair memory and concentration. Remember the last time you forgot to “save” and it took hours to recreate that email or document? Or when you showed up at the wrong time for that critical appointment with your boss? How many times have you misplaced your keys, wallet, or glasses in the last few weeks? What about those notes you need for writing your book or the pattern for your current knitting project? Hours and hours are lost making and fixing unnecessary mistakes. Less ongoing stress means more clarity of mind and that adds up to extra time.
3. Spend less time at the doctor or psychotherapist. Studies show that 60-90% of doctors’ visits are for stress-related illnesses. The list of suspected stress-connected disorders goes on and on starting with heart disease, stopping off at diabetes, and taking a turn at immune-related dysfunctions. Eating disorders, anxiety, or depression – all thought to have a link to stress – can have you spending countless hours with a shrink or even hospitalized.
4. Indulge in fewer fights. Stress can make you feel edgy, to say the least, and consistently lead to regrettable outbursts of red-hot anger. You’re a good person, but you can’t seem to get a handle on yourself. Or maybe you always feel irritable or on the edge of tears. All this leads to miscommunication, which often sets off terrible fights. Once the argument is finally done, not only are you wiped out, it can take hours or even days to repair the emotional mess. And sometimes, it’s impossible to fully rebuild the trust. Reduce your stress to take off the edge and have more time for happy and healthier relationships.
5. Live a longer life. Stress might take hours, months, or years off your life due to its link with so many different disorders, diseases,and plights. People subject to chronic stress often turn to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs for relief, none of which are likely to extend your life.
Get smart now. Get smart early. Reduce stress to find 20 minutes and maybe even hours or years of your precious life.
Sandra Pawula is a freelance writer, mindfulness advocate, and champion of living with ease. She writes about finding greater happiness & freedom on her blog Always Well Within. Her new e-course, Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress begins on Sept. 9th, and you can register right now.