My secret to a life with less stress seems like an appropriate message to share this time of year. The holidays always kick stress levels up a notch, don’t they? Lots of people are struggling to get a million things done. They are exhausted, frustrated and seem to just want it all to be over with. I see your posts and I understand! However, I do not feel the same way and here is why. I know how to ask for help.
My secret to life with less stress at home
My mother is still one of those “Superwomen” you know around the holidays. They have lists a mile long of things to do. They stay up all night shopping, cooking and wrapping. After a certain point it gets hard to tell if they enjoy the holidays or just feel obligated to do everything themselves. They also never ever ask for help.
If you think anyone who tries to help you is getting in your way or slowing you down – watch out! They may stop wanting to help and some day you will need it.
My children are 4 and 6 years old and I ask them to help me all of the time. Yes, I do not need their help but I want to raise helpful people. It takes me twice as long to bake cookies than it would alone. They “help” clean with their little dust pans and often make a bigger mess than we started with. That is 100% fine by me. My kids want to do what I’m doing and feel proud when they accomplish something. One day I’m going to need their help – it is my job to show them how.
My secret to life with less stress in a relationship
There are so many posts around the holidays from women who count their husbands as an “extra child”. I love you ladies but this makes me cringe. I have to wonder if they ask their husbands for help? My guess is no. Maybe they just assume they won’t get it done right. Done is better than perfect in my book. I could not possibly work full time, raise children, write, and exercise if my husband wasn’t my equal in this home.
It is super important to talk to your partner about money (here is how to do it) but that’s not all. You also need to be able to ask your partner for help too. If it feels uncomfortable try to reverse the situation. If your partner had a bad day and needed a workout to unwind I bet you would tell them to go! The other night I had a stressful day at work and we needed to get some shopping done. I asked my husband for help and he went to Target while I sat on the couch and watched Love After Lockup.
My secret to life with less stress at work
At one point in my career I managed a 16 person team with employees in 4 different states. Trying to keep everyone engaged and happy at work was a big part of my job. Obviously that wasn’t my only responsibility. There were plenty of other things to get done that were critical to our department. To be successful I knew was what each person was really good at. Also, I knew what they would like to do more of if they got the opportunity.
As a leader in the office your job isn’t to dazzle everyone with how much you can handle. If you want your most talented employees to stick around start delegating important work and give them all the credit they deserve!
I went on maternity leave twice and focused entirely on my babies. The reason why I could was that I had seen all of the amazing things my team was capable of already. No question they would work just as hard in my absence. I wasn’t afraid they wouldn’t need me anymore either when leave was over. Most people just want to work for someone who isn’t a jerk. Don’t be paranoid – help people develop their talent so they can take over when you land your next promotion.
My secret to asking for help the right way
There is an art to asking for help. First – you need to communicate it. Do this out loud or even in an email or text (no mind reading). Also, you need to communicate it to the people who can actually help you. Venting to random strangers online is amazing (have you followed me on twitter yet?) but it may not help your situation.
The second and most important thing you need to do when you ask for help is to explain why. Now I admit I love a good social experiment so one time when I was presenting at a conference I made a difficult request to the audience. When I began speaking I asked if they could do me a favor and not touch their phones for the full hour. I went on to say I get distracted when I look at the audience and they are on their phones. At the end I asked if anyone had looked at their phones and they were proud of the fact that they didn’t. One attendee told me it was the first time he hadn’t looked at his phone for an hour (while awake) in years!
Now, at the end I fessed up that I asked them to not look at their phones to prove a point. This was a Compliance conference and I wanted the group to understand that when you ask people to do difficult things it is much more likely they will if you tell them why. Makes sense right? If someone cuts you in line it is annoying. If they ask to cut you because they have to rush to pick up their child at daycare it is a different story. We’ve all been in a hurry. The person who explains why they need help is much more likely to get it.
My secret is asking for help the right way
Now some people don’t have a big support system nearby. If that is your situation there may be resources in your community that can help you. Look around and see what’s available. If you are an introvert it may feel really awkward to ask for help at first. Start by asking someone to show you how they did something. It’s flattering and it can start making that conversation more comfortable.
Finally if you are that “superhero” mom or dad around the holidays but feel like it is getting unbearable take a step back. Maybe you can get away with doing less by explaining to the people you love that you feel stressed out and want to enjoy the holidays more. It is OK to be the person that signs up to bring napkins sometimes!