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Reduce stress by planning your week

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What time does your alarm go off in the morning? Earlier than you’d like, we’re willing to bet. As soon as it goes off, what goes through your mind? For many of us, it’s a mix of work deadlines, when we’re going to manage the food shopping, how we’re going to fit exercise in this week, getting the kids to school on time and wondering how many days it is until the weekend.

The common theme running through all these life stresses is time. Or more specifically, not enough of it. Finding the time to fit everything into our weeks is top of the list as the thing that stresses us out the most. We struggle to meet targets and deadlines, our to-do lists get longer, our patience shorter and we rush from one end of the week to the other, willing it to be Friday night.

But with some careful planning, we can make the most of our time to get things done, allowing us more time to relax and do the things we enjoy. Then, in an act of virtuous cycling serendipity, we’re then better equipped to face tasks and tackle them with renewed energy.

And the secret to these extra hours in the day? Good old fashioned list writing…

The effect of stress on the skin

Long term stress takes a physical toll on the body, but it also impacts the skin. The stress hormone cortisol can cause the skin to become more oily and if you already have problem skin, such as acne or eczema prone skin, it could become worse.

Stress can also cause the skin to break out more, and cause conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis to flare up. A lack of time can also mean that we scrimp on our normal facial routine and we may even be tempted to collapse into bed without removing our makeup or the daily dirt and grime that builds up, causing dull, tired looking skin.

Reduce stress by putting it on paper

It might feel like you can’t literally spare a moment in your busy schedule to sit down and write a list. But doing so really will free up time - much more time than it takes to write the list. Putting your tasks on paper will allow you to free your mind from them and be an instant stress reduction.

Separate your tasks

We find that having various lists will help - be that on a fancy interactive spreadsheet or the old fashioned method of a notepad and pencil. So you could have one for the weekly food shop, one for tasks relating to work and another for those relating to the kid’s homework and after school clubs.

Prioritise your tasks

Be it a work, family life or house related list, prioritise the tasks in order of importance. For some, this will mean getting the bigger tasks completed first, for a sense of achievement. For others, this will mean getting a lot of smaller tasks completed before tackling the bigger ones.

Is it urgent or is it important?

Distinguish between tasks that are urgent and important. We tend to focus on the urgent tasks even if they are not important. This can lead to the important tasks being pushed back indefinitely and they never get done. Give yourself time every day to focus on the important task, that will help you ensure that they will get done.

Break it down into manageable bite sized chunks

The idea is to record your to-do tasks in bite-sized chunks. So instead of writing down “Do housework”, write each stage, such as “Change bedsheets, iron shirts, clean bathroom, water plants” all as separate lines. Or work-wise, instead of “Write report” break it down into sensibly sized sections. 

You can then plan to complete each step and having the satisfaction of marking it as complete.

Keep it together

Try to keep all your notes together, so that they’re not just scribbled on a scrap of paper that you’re likely to lose. Putting things down on paper is an instant stress reliever, especially if it makes you realise that the number of things you have to do isn’t that overwhelming after all.

Plan your days to help you relax

Scheduling tasks is the most critical way of managing your time. We find that Sundays work well to set aside time to plan and schedule. Take the tasks from your list and assign a time to complete them. You’ll also need to allow spare time for any unexpected, urgent tasks that come your way.

Scheduling your tasks will allow you to see what you can achieve within any given timeframe. Having a plan in place will let you see that it can be achieved and allow you to relax.

Scheduling time for your tasks will allow you to focus on the task at hand. If you don’t schedule the time you might find it difficult to focus and jump from one task to another and not finish any of them.

Do what works for you

We’re not telling you to live your life too rigidly or structured. But sticking to your plan will help you to tackle it all, and feel less overwhelmed, making you more productive.

The feeling of ticking off each task is so empowering. Plus, seeing your progress tracked literally in black and white (or whatever colour you choose) each week will drive you forward to accomplishment and success. Your mind will relax, and you’ll be more focussed on the task in hand.

So try making a to-do list this Sunday. At the very least, your skin will thank you for it!

Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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