Stress Management for SuperWomen

Ten Rules to “Live Longer” 

By Keitha Story-Stephenson PhD


1. Learn to Say "No"

When you commit to 10 percent more than you can actually accomplish, it "feels" like you've got 50 percent more, thereby creating even more stress. By not taking on more of a workload that you can reasonably carry, you create more time for meaningful activity and therefore less stress.


2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Taking on more than your fair share of the responsibility for getting things done leads to fear of things "falling apart" when you take a day off. Giving more responsibility to your other committee members-and trusting that they’ll get the job done -- a huge weight of stress off your shoulders. Magnesium will also help relax the body.


3. Take Note of Your Time

Here's a huge secret: 90 percent of time management is simply tracking how much time you're spending on each type of task. Knowledge is power. Once you realize what's eating up your time it becomes absurdly easy to decide what's high-priority and what can be eliminated or delegated.


4. Unplug: Every woman knows that success is only possible through self-discipline. Well, here's where theory meets practice. Exercise the self-discipline to turn off your phone and computer when you're asleep and for at least two hours while you're awake for maximum stress reduction. Naps are Holy.


5. Identify the real problem. Women often say they just need more time or less sleep. From my personal experience and from looking at other women, I have found that this is frequently just the symptom. More often, the problem is over commitment, bad time management or poor financial management. It might take someone with more expertise to analyze the situation and identify your weaknesses and solutions. Joining a women’s group, or reaching out to other women socially that you respect can make a huge difference.


6. Separate the fear from the anxiety. Fear is rational, a healthy emotion that keeps us from doing reckless things and helps keep us focused. Some would argue that volunteering is reckless –time consuming-, but I think it’s more of a calculated risk. In all of life, you have to manage fear and overpower it. Whether the tight rope is 100 feet up or 1,000 doesn’t make much difference. Don’t look down. Look straight ahead. Focus. Take action. 


Anxiety, on the other hand, is unwarranted and irrational worrying. Do your best to recognize anxiety and eliminate it from your mind. I know, it’s easier said than done, but you do have to do it. Go to a professional if you have to -  Meditate, read, listen to music, walk, exercise. Many studies have shown that exercise reduces stress.


7. Forgive yourself. Life is not easy, and there is no way that you can live life and not make mistakes. Wasting energy on looking back and feeling stupid is an exercise in futility that you cannot afford. Stop feeling guilty. Save that for the way you treat your spouse or children when you are in a bad mood. Stop that, too. You can do it. Roll with the punches. Develop a short memory.


8. Keep perspective. Look around you. Life is not fair. Horrible things happen every day, most of them not to you. Self-pity is kryptonite to the superwoman within you. Try to stand like Superwoman for 10 min/day.  It helps to change your mindset. I have read many books on successful women. They all had serious problems along the way. Their success is as much about tenacity as it is about working hard or being smart and compassionate.


9. Accept responsibility. There is no one to point fingers at. It’s all you. If you didn’t know that when you signed up, too bad. Now you have to figure out how to make it work. This is America. Everyone loves the underdog. After you have accepted full responsibility, re-read No. 3. Practice self-forgiveness.

10.  I don’t want to sound condemning, but you need to think positively. If you think negatively, you will fail. If things are so bad that you can’t do any of this, throw in the towel. Get it over with. Take the hit. There is no shame in failing. You took a shot. It didn’t work. The sooner you can get it over with, the sooner you can move on.


Volunteerism is not easy, and it is not for everyone. It can provide great rewards. It does get easier. It should get easier. It takes time. It’s okay to rest and spend that time with friends and family.


Create the best you - one day, one act at a time.