How to Manage Stress Under Time Constraints

Time pressured environments exist in all parts of life, from school and college to the workplace and even in pastimes such as sports and shows. Learning to manage stress under time constraints is considered to be a skill for many a worker, student and performer, regardless of your personal makeup or ability to cope with such artificially imposed pressure. In order to cope with stress induced by workplace, study or other sources of time constraints, this article will give you some tips to minimize the impact and keep yourself intact.


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    Stand back from everything at least once a day. When you feel as if things are out of control, it's easy to feel stressed. By standing back and taking stock of things, you can regain a sense of personal control, even if the deadlines and expectations are outside of your management purview. In taking stock, consider the following:
    • Prioritize. It's a cliché for good reason––sorting out what really is urgent from what others insist is urgent because they want it off their to-do list is important. Which items on your to-do list should be at the top, which can happily bubble along in the middle and which will be just fine if left until later? Prioritizing can bring you peace of mind but also alert you to potential time pressures that you may need to seek help with or change deadlines for.
    • Take the long view. Consider how things are supposed to pan out in the longer term. Then compare this to how you've handled similar events in the past. This is a way of helping yourself to recognize potential problems and to know that things will eventually turn out as they should, provided you stick to the fundamentals and follow through with these.
    • Communicate. If things appear to be overwhelming, talk to people who are in a position to alleviate the burden you're carrying. This may be a supervisor, a manager, a coworker, a fellow professional, another student, a friend, or anyone else who is relevant. Carrying the load alone may be at the heart of your stress. If you're in a position to delegate, consider doing it.
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    Find a way of calming yourself that really works for you. There is a range of de-stressing approaches available, including exercise, meditation, yoga, volunteering, prayer/reflection, mindfulness, therapy, taking a short break, participating in a hobby, and so forth. Find the approaches that work for you and include them in your day. If you feel guilty for making the time for this in place of whatever is causing you the pressure, remind yourself that you will be giving the task or outcome your full attention after you've calmed yourself and restored your sense of balance.
    • Consider meditating. Give yourself the company of only yours alone for at least 15 minutes. Several thoughts may conjure up in your mind, let them. When you think freely, you will feel relaxed. Talk with yourself. Call yourself silly or whatever, feel free.
    • Take a few minutes to think about all that you have been gifted with. Be grateful for all you have and how lucky you have been in life. When your attention is attracted towards the good things in your life, good things can be attracted to you because you're open to the opportunities when they present themselves. Of course, you need to make the effort to avail yourself of such opportunities!
    • Try introspection. Introspection is viewing yourself and analyzing what you find within. This can help you to realize what you have done which has made you feel stressed. Analyzing the root of your stress will usually also present you with the solution for dealing with it too. Telling yourself why you are stressed gives you the same feeling as you would get if you have solved the cause of stress.
    • Listen to music. Listening to songs can uplift your mood. Choose music that helps you to feel better.
    • Take deep breaths during the day. This can often give you quick relief and remind you to stand or sit up straight and to take a moment to regain your composure. Close your eyes and focus only on your breath. Take at least six seconds to complete one inhalation and exhalation. Doing this can help you to feel your mind becoming light and free.
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    Learn to view time as a whole rather than as something that is always running away from you. Time constraints are imposed upon everyone, in the workplace, at college and school, in sports and competitive environments and even at home due to the fact that time is viewed as limited. By seeing time as a whole, this can help you to see the longer term view and not just what is happening to you right now; view the past, the present and the future, see the linkages and remind yourself that everything is connected and that what matters is not so much making the most of the time in aid of someone else's deadline but in ensuring that your own skills, talents and self-expression are woven into the threads of time in meaningful ways. In other words, if you feel pressured by other people's demands and time limits on you, make time to fulfill what matters to you at least once every few days amid that chaos!
    • Schedule "you time" in a diary or calendar. Fight time running away from you by working with it, using appointment block-out times to go and do the things you care about, to be with the people you want to spend time with and to stop yourself from being overly engrossed in someone else's deadlines instead of attending to your own needs.
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    Give it up. Sometimes it reaches a point where the time constraints are not who you are. If you find that rushing about meeting urgent things all of your life, and that you are aging, ailing and chafing at the bit to throw a tantrum, your body is telling you to slow down. Regardless of the socially condoned impetus to keep working harder and push yourself harder, there is a need for a reality check at some point. Maybe the time constraints are something that don't fit with who you are anymore, and the stress is simply a warning signal that change is very much needed. Some things to think about include:
    • Is this time constrained job, study, outlet, experience, etc., really what you want at this point in your life? Remember that it may have worked for you initially but every person changes. Perhaps it isn't the right thing anymore.
    • Is your stress a symptom of you being a square peg trying to fit the proverbial round hole? If you tried one thing and threw yourself into it wholeheartedly, only to discover you're probably something else completely, why keep forcing yourself into that wrong hole? If you do, everything will stress you, not just time constraints but you will feel as if your life is fleeing from you.
    • Is it the workplace? In workplaces where people who "can't cope" are easily replaced with the next group of eager recruits, the pressure can be immense to work too hard and try to cover up the fact that you're not coping. If this fits your concerns, you could consider tackling the problem by raising the need for change (but this often comes with its own stress) or perhaps consider moving into an area or new job, or even demoting yourself, to work where the pressures are less. It's not a failure; it's looking after yourself.
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    Seek assistance. In some cases, an inability to manage stress under time constraints may be symptomatic of things you can change, with help. Perhaps getting help from someone who can teach you better ways to organize your work or studies will make a big change. Or, maybe getting counseling about managing lots of different things at once will help you.
    • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause a lot of time perception problems and cause you to feel overwhelmed. If you're experiencing troubles with sleep, speak to your doctor first, who may be able to refer you to someone who specializes in sleep disorders. Remember that inability to sleep can be compounded by stress but it may have some other underlying cause too.
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    Go for a walk. Getting outside and simply walking is a wonderful way to shake off stress and clear your head. Get away from the office, the desk, the homework, the screaming kids. Give yourself a break outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and let your thoughts roam freely. A break such as this now and then will allow you to think freely.
    • Try for a beautiful environment wherever possible, such as a vibrant neighborhood, a museum district, the local park or a hike in the woods.


  • Read more. Reading slows you down, while TV, videos and online entertainment seem to chew up time and speed up your thoughts. Reading will help you to de-stress and remain calm. If you're used to warp speed living, it might take a while before reading feels okay; just give it time.
  • Look at how others cope. Can some of their coping strategies perhaps work for you?
  • Do what makes you happy. Also often said and seldom adhered to, this is a real antidote to stress. Be sure to pencil in time to do the things that you truly care about.
  • Get involved in charity work for a cause you care about. This will introduce you to a world of very different pressures, where too much time can be a burden for some. It can really change your perspective.
  • Drink water when you feel stressed. Sometimes a lack of hydration leads to feeling stressed.
  • Fake it. Smile even when the pressure is on; it can help you to feel better and it can be catching. It's also useful when you haven't a clue what's going on and you just want to appear calm and all-knowing; it saves opening your mouth to confirm anything.
  • Some believe that chocolate cures everything. It is yet to remove deadlines but no doubt someone is working on that, under pressure somewhere.

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Categories: Stress Anxiety and Crisis Management