Three Steps to Overcome Terminal Seriousness

Practicing Self-Preservation
Article Text: Terminal seriousness has been assigned a bad rap. Just because we don’t set aside time for fun doesn’t mean that we have forgotten how to enjoy life. Besides, what’s wrong with working long and hard to achieve our goals? Busy hands and occupied minds keep us out of trouble. Structure and organization increase our productivity. So why not insist on maintaining a tight schedule?
If you relate to this line of thinking, you are well on your way to developing terminal seriousness. Managing stress doesn’t mean striving to become organized and efficient, so you can continue piling commitments on your plate. Overloading your schedule squeezes out even a hint of flexibility. Encountering just one unexpected event wreaks havoc on your well-laid plans, and your well-oiled machine instantly turns into a juggling act.

Juggling is what you have grown accustomed to? With super-sized work loads and down-sized resources, multi-tasking is your middle name? Congratulations! You have earned your certificate in Terminal Seriousness and are enrolled in your next crash course, Stress-Related Illness-911.

Statistics show that close to 90% of visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems. Stress zaps our energy, cripples our performance, affects the quality of our relationships, tears our body apart and makes us just plain miserable. How can we escape stress? We can’t. But we can preserve our health and our sanity by incorporating a simple prevention concept into our daily habits.

In grade school during Fire Prevention Week, the Fire Marshall taught us a life-saving procedure called “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” Here’s a version we can apply to protect ourselves from the damaging effects of stress:

Stop! Our natural biological clock tells us that we need a break from work every one-and-a-half to two hours to maintain peak cognitive performance. Often we are determined to finish something we start, and won’t stop until we do. However, if we take regular work breaks, we discover we can easily make up for lost time by quicker performance with less chance of error.

Drop! Experts tell us that we need 15 minutes of quiet time per every 24 hour period. Quiet time is defined as “no noise or activity” and includes clearing the clutter of our minds. It’s an easy process, but not so easy to do – be still, close our eyes, breathe in deeply, exhale slowly, and just “be.” If we learn how to drop everything for at least one fifteen minute period every day, we can renew our focus.

Roll! A sense of humor is our ability to see the funny in our everyday ordinary life, especially when there is no funny. Humor allows us to look at a situation from more than one viewpoint and gain a new perspective, so we can “roll with the punches” of trying times. When you sacrificed your time, health and relationships to achieve your certificate in Terminal Seriousness, you were misinformed. The benefits of structure and organization are meant to equip you to assume control of your schedule, not so you can overbook to the point that your life spirals out-of-control. Multi-tasking is not a valuable skill. It is really a disguise for the opportunity to mess up several things at once. And fun is not the reward for getting your work done.

If we’re not careful, we gradually fall back into our old training. Or we can commit to work at making a new habit and Stop, Drop, and Roll to a healthy level of self-preservation.

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Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois, works with individuals and organizations who want to learn how to use the power of humor and the magic of laughter to handle the demands and pressures of work and home, adjust to constant change, deal with difficult people, cope with the unpredictable swift pace of life, product positive outcomes and have more fun.

Learning to laugh and “hangin’ on with humor” rescued Lois from the distress and despair surrounding her daily life, and initiated her recovery from a brain injury. Lois’ keynotes and trainings entertain, inspire and stimulate audiences to examine their own response to challenge and adversity. Hilarious personal stories, “Lessons from Lois” impart life-changing insights and equip participants with humor strategies and practical solutions to overcome the seriousness of their life challenges and feel happy.

Her universal message renews hope and motivates others to consistently do small things so they can achieve amazing results one day at a time.

©2012 Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois – Permission to reprint or repost this article is granted by including the above byline and Lois’ contact information.