It is possible to have more control over your life and a lot less stress. The shift does not have to be overwhelming, in fact, you can simply begin with 3 small changes.

The feelings of anxiety and stress come from a place where we have a sense of hopelessness in our ability to manage our lives as if we are at the mercy of the whims of the universe.

The feeling of a lack of control is perceived by your brain as a threat and triggers our ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode. This response is wired into our system as a way to reduce uncertainty and unpredictability, i.e. ‘If I stop (freeze) everything that I’m doing right now in this stressful situation I may be able to think more clearly to find a way out of it’. The problem with this is, it does not always work and is often not a very healthy response when there are deadlines to be met.

Hence why we feel more confident and secure when we have things under control, we think and feel more clearly and are better able to be more productive. In the workplace, jobs where an employee has high responsibility but little control increases the amount of stress they experience. This stress also increases the risks of burnout and heart attacks.

Finding a sense of calm by taking back your power can be done with three small changes.

Dedicated time for focused work

For starters, it helps to prioritise. Although you have a long list of emails, notifications and alarms flooding your space, pause and decide which of those need to be addressed first. Take a deep breath and remember that you are control of what comes in and out of your space but deliberately focusing on the things that are meant for you (you do not need to subscribe to another newsletter). Decide how you want to focus your attention.

No more notifications – except for people who are a priority

You do not need to know when the next level of Candy Crush is ready (you will get back to the game, promise). It causes more stress to have your phone buzzing constantly that to set aside time to address your notifications and alerts without the added pressure. Silence those interruptions that take up brain space which would then gives more room to focus on your tasks at hand. You will begin to see you that you have a better workflow and levels of productivity.

Time’s up – declare an end to the day (no matter what)

Your stress-hormone (cortisol) is steadily increased with heavy work schedules, back-to-back meetings and that pile of work that is always waiting for you. There is always work to be done and your stress will run free as the day is long but it does not have to. Resist the urge to stay on the hamster wheel by physically and psychologically removing your self from your desk or workspace. The more time you spend on self-care the happier you will be and the lighter the load becomes. This is when you will be able to conquer that mountain of work, bit by bit.