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Expanding and Contracting: Managing Your Stress Level
By Mary M. Byers
My work is seasonal. I make about 30% of my income for the entire year in one month! That’s
the good news. The bad news is that it can be stressful getting through such a busy time. That’s
where the concept of “Expanding and Contracting” comes in.
Expanding and contracting requires making a conscious decision regarding how big your life
view is going to be at any given time. For example, I once had a speaking engagement in my
home town. Since my mother lived there, I decided to take my children along so they could
spend some time with grandma.
Several weeks before the engagement, my world view was still large. I could look at the
calendar for the entire month, make plans for later in the summer, and keep an active “To
Do” list for the week. As the engagement approached, however, I narrowed my focus to
getting my presentation ready and getting myself and the kids packed. The day before our
departure, getting out the door and to Grandma’s house was ALL I focused on. As soon as my
presentation was over, however, I was able to expand my focus again and begin planning for
our next trip—a family vacation.
You’ve probably used these concepts of expanding and contracting without even knowing
it. Think about the last time you had friends over for dinner. When you called to extend the
invitation, your life view was still large. As you approached the day of the meal, your view
contracted as you began to plan the menu and make your grocery list. The day of the event,
your view likely contracted even more, to the point of being focused on straightening the house
and getting the food prepared. After your guests arrived, your view could begin to expand again
and by the time they left, you were probably already thinking ahead to what the next day would
Expanding and contracting your view is extremely useful in staving off stress. As I view my
calendar some days and an overwhelmed feeling starts creeping over me, I simply take a
deep breathe (or two, or three, or ten, depending on the situation!) and ask myself, “How can
I contract my focus?” Doing so keeps me from being paralyzed and gives me a focal point
toward which to direct my energy. It’s an extremely effective means of staying sane when you’re
running a home and a business under one roof. Having a laser focus is necessary sometimes
just to get you through the day.
What techniques do you use to help you get through your work-related
post. Until then, now that I’m done traveling for awhile, I’m expanding my focus again and it
Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully
making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at http://www.makingworkathomework.com/.
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