We all play losing games at times and do things that are self-defeating or even self-destructive, things like not eating well, not getting enough sleep, working excessively long hours and getting too little exercise. Mismanaging time is another losing game. Procrastination, leaving for meetings at the last minute and spending too much time on low-priority tasks can considerably heighten your stress levels. Overload and feeling that there’s not enough time; are often cited as the leading complaints. Interestingly enough, we bring a lot of this on ourselves.
Particularly prone are perfectionists (who do things meticulously), workaholics (who live to work and then wonder where their lives went), over-thinker personalities (hard-driving, aggressive, competitive types who are always in a hurry), caretakers (who are so busy looking after everyone else they neglect themselves) and pleasers (who can’t say no and often compromise themselves avoid conflict or to be well-liked).
What can we do to change our losing games?
Set limits. Don’t let work encroach upon your relationship and/or home life. Learn to say “No.” There are times you simply have to draw the line. Honesty with tact will stand you in good stead.
Take time-outs. Most people think they can go all day without a break - and still turn out good work and enjoy what they’re doing. We have cycles of high and low energy throughout the day. They’re called ultradian rhythms and each lasts about two hours. We all experience the lows (where we yawn, lose our concentration, make mistakes), but most of us try to push through these lulls, or jazz ourselves up with coffee and/or pills. It is actually recommended that taking a 20-minute break every couple of hours will give your body a chance to rejuvenate itself for the next cycle. Power naps, short walks, meditation, day-dreaming, socialising, listening to music or doing low-concentration tasks are all ways to take short timeouts. By taking a 10 or 20-minute break every couple of hours, you can significantly increase your productivity and more than make up for the lost time.
Make room for leisure. Many people feel guilty when they indulge in leisure because they consider it selfish. I used to think leisure meant rest and relaxation. In fact, it comes from the Latin root licere and it means permission. Anything you do out of freedom and choice is technically a leisure activity (as opposed to the duty and obligation that run so much of our lives). The reason there’s so little leisure time is that we have stopped giving ourselves permission to have it.
Put money in perspective. Living in debt can be another losing game, and changing the way we think about money can help. The argument is raised that after we meet our survival needs and acquire some comforts and even a few luxuries, the satisfaction we get from purchases actually decreases the more we buy. In short, more spending; brings less fulfillment. So ask yourself, “how much is enough?”
Know yourself. For many people, their job is a big part of their identity - which is fine to a point. But such close identification can lead to problems. Losing your job is bad enough, but if your self- image is tied up in the job you’ve just lost, you can also lose a sense of who you are. Similarly, if your self-image is bound to your professional performance, a bad day at the office can send you home feeling worthless. To those who over identify with their role, remember this motto: “Your job is what you do, not who you are.”
Stress has become a fact of life - but it need not become a way of life. Most of the stress that most of us experience is actually self-generated. The key is to recognise when you’re playing a losing game and stop long enough to consider an alternative. What have you got to lose?
Be kind and gentle with yourself – it’s infectious ~“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” -Philippians 2:5-8