Reduce stress using the “168 hour week rule”

Everyone has stress. Here’s a great way to manage yours!

Stress comes in many forms; job related,Man writing personal, physical and mental. The dictionary defines stress as, “A physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation; a state resulting from a stress; especially one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.”

Although there are many symptoms of stress, here are some: Migraine headaches, muscle spasms, nervousness, hyperventilating, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression and hives. Believe it or not, these are just some symptom that people experience. Children even experience stress with the demanding schedules they have through personal and school obligations.

We all experience stress. In our hurry-up, rushed daily experiences, stress is a major part of life and impacts mental and physical illnesses. Numerous studies have proven that if you don’t reduce negative stress, you will pay the price mentally and physically.

We have to find ways to manage stress because it won’t go away. There is good stress, like attending a wedding, and negative stress which can result from finances, jobs and parenting. We can manage these stressors by setting some realistic goals and expectations. You can learn how to keep negative stressors in perspective by setting some boundaries.

Michigan State University Extension recommends the 168-hour week rule as an effective way of managing stress relief:

  • You’ll only have to chart this schedule once, initially
  • You will have to periodically update the chart as life changes and events occur.
  • There are 168 hours in a week, 24 hours in a day. This is finite. It cannot and will not change.
  • Chart out a one week schedule noting everything you do in that week, minute by minute; hour by hour.
  • Chart for seven days.
  • Take your Chart with you wherever you go.

Chart example:

  1. Monday (Date)
  2. 6-6:45 a.m. - Get up, shower, prepare for work
  3. 6:45-7 a.m. - Breakfast
  4. 7:00-8 a.m. – Travel to work
  5. 8-8:30 a.m. - Work
  6. 8:30-9:30 a.m. - Doctor Appointment
  7. 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Return to work, break included
  8. 10:30-noon - Work
  9. 12-12:45 p.m. - Lunch and exercise break
  10. Continue until bed time.
  11. Write down everything you do until the next morning.
  12. Important: Include the number of hours you sleep.

Repeat daily events for weekdays and the weekend. At the end of seven days, count the hours you have charted.

When I first did this I had 268 hours charted for my week. Impossible! Charting helped me see where I could pare down and reduce my stress using other stress relief management tips, such as:

  • Combine events
  • Prepare a weekly menu using a smart phone app or the internet
  • Prepare meals for the entire week using a slow cooker
  • Freeze daily portions
  • Defrost in the refrigerator or microwave before dinnertime
  • Make family lunches on the weekend
  • Arrange carpooling/sharing with other parents to pick up/drop off children at after school obligations and events

By the end of your second week, you will notice stress relief through better time-management.

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