We’ve all had weeks from hell. They’re unavoidable in the modern world, it seems.
The worst thing about them is that you can see them coming on the horizon, but there is nothing you can do to avoid them – you just have to let them speed towards you.
It feels like the entire weight of the world is careering towards your shoulders; you know that once it arrives at your door, it is going to be gnarly.
Everyone has these weeks from hell at least once a year, or more likely once a month. Things mount and mount until they boil over into a carnage-filled bog of doom.
You need to file your tax returns, a project deadline looms, your cranky Aunty Alice is visiting for the week, your girlfriend is sick, the boiler is broken and you’re having a bout of gout. All at the same time.
Hell on earth, my friends. But, there’s no avoiding it. Sometimes things just come at us all at once. You can try and look at it positively if you want: if all the bad things happen at once, at least it gets them out of the way… I know that kind of positive slant won’t cut the mustard. This week is a toughy and there’s no sugar-coating it.
There are some simple ways to make the week more bearable, though. I’m not going to pretend you will sail through it, but it might dull the horror somewhat. For starters, just feeling like you have some kind of survival technique in the bag will give you a head-start. Psychologically, you’ll feel slightly ahead of the curve (whether it’s true or not).
Let Some Things Slide
When your stress levels are sky high, it’s difficult to remember that not everything in your life is super important. You need to let less important things go, just for this week.
Maybe the floor does need a hoover, but you can do that next week. You said you would go out for someone’s birthday drinks – but you hardly know them, you don’t have to go. How much fun would you be any way?
Whilst you’re sliding through the week from Hades, make sure you prioritise.
If you’re really up against the world, you won’t want to take a break. You will be working solidly – moving gracefully from task to task, or, more likely, flapping and screaming between tasks.
Constantly pushing as hard as you can without rest can be a false economy. It is much better to take short breaks every hour or so to give your brain a rest. A break means that when you do start working again, you will be more efficient and get more done over all.
The breaks only need to be a 5 minute walk, or a quick sit down outdoors. It just allows the pressure to subside a tiny bit.
Bond With Others
You are probably not alone in suffering this week from hell. The last thing you want to do is turn against the others who are experiencing the same level of trauma. That will make it worse for them and ultimately you.
If you stress out co-workers and family members that are in this mess with you, they will be less inclined to help and become yet another negative force.
Try and get on with everyone. Crack some jokes – gallows humour and all that. Camaraderie is key. Laugh through the pain.
Be Nice, Stress Head
Following on from the point above, this works a treat – do something nice for someone else. It is so easy to focus inwards when we are stressing out. But stop it. Think about someone else – ask them how they are, ask them if they need help etc.
This will make them feel good and consequently, they will be more of a positive force going forwards. But on top of that, you will feel a rush of positive energy too, because you’ve done something unselfish in a time of duress.
Do Not Multitask
For years and years, multitasking was heralded as the only way to do business effectively.
As time and research has moved on, this does not seem to be the case. What seems to be best is to finish each task you are on – do it properly – then move on to the next.
Doing more than one thing at once slows you down and makes you more likely to make errors. So, if you can, stick to singletasking.
Ask For Help
Plenty of us struggle with this one. We feel like asking for help is the equivalent of giving up and failing. That’s not true. There’s nothing wrong with delegation.
It might mean letting go of a few things and relenting some control, but if it gets the week cleared out of the way in a slightly less painful way – what’s the problem?
When we’re up against it, we need to lower our pride levels, accept the help, and be grateful for it. People don’t mind lending a hand if they can see you are struggling, especially if you don’t ask for assistance all that often.
Avoid The “What Ifs”
In general, the thing that makes us stress out the most is the thought of failing, or the thought of missing a deadline. So, rather than focusing on the “what ifs,” focus on the now – focus on the task in hand. Get that done first, then move on to the next.
If you are working as quickly and efficiently as you can, there is no sense in worrying about not completing the task. If you are working at top speed, that will have to be good enough. Focus on the task.
Small Rewards (Or Big Ones)
Throughout the week of doom, make sure to give yourself some treats. Whatever it is that floats your boat, have some of that. Whether it’s an extra dessert, a trip to the cinema, a concert, a hot bath – make sure you fit it in.
If possible, plan something nice to do once the week has finished, too. Perhaps a quiet weekend away somewhere. It won’t always be possible, of course, but see if you can fit something in to pamper yourself.
It can be a godsend having something to focus on beyond the week of suffering.