“I don’t have time!” Five ways to reframe your thinking and reduce stress

Reframe your thinking to reduce your stress

5 ways to reframe your thinking and reduce stress

How saying “I don’t have time” creates stress and anxiety in our lives. How to reframe your thinking.

I’ll admit that I used to be one of those people. Always huffing and puffing and stressed out. I had a million things on my plate and there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to get it all done. I would be tired and always complaining that there was too much to do and too little time. And this was before I had a child.

Once the baby arrived, that stress multiplied. I was working two jobs, starting my private practice and staying up late to nurse a baby. I thought this would temporary but somehow it never seemed like I ever had the time to complete things off of my to do list. The list in fact kept getting longer. Ultimately though, this was not sustainable, because I was arguing with loved ones, I was tired all the time, I was becoming less fun and more whiney. The one thing that made me, ME, was laughter, and that was disappearing. I couldn’t lose that. I didn’t want my son to see an angry me.

Working and juggling children and a household can be hard

How to Reframe Your Thinking

Does any of this sound like you? Is that your mantra? Let me ask you how you’re doing with that. Are you happy any time those words come out of your mouth? I had to figure out how Beyonce was getting it done or how the mom on YouTube managed to do it with 4 kids. I wanted their secret beyond having more money and having hired help.

Unless they could somehow stop time and get things done, I had to figure it out if I wanted to be a good mom, wife, friend, therapist. And over time, I came to learn and adopt some new thoughts, habits and routines that has stopped me almost altogether from using that phrase.

I said ALMOST. Listen, we are overworked and overscheduled but we carry fatigue like a badge of honor. It’s the American way! We work hard! We want to do what’s best for our children and sometimes that means that things get sacrificed. Our lives are complicated, our houses are bigger, we have more stuff and we have less support around. So yes, getting it all done in 24 hours is hard and seemingly impossible, but it’s not. So here is some food for thought – We need to change our stinkin’ thinkin’.

1. Reframe your thinking: Stop saying “I don’t have time”.

I often tell people, don’t tell me what you don’t want, tell me what you do want! But in this case, I suggest to you that you replace the statement “I don’t have time” with “I have 5 minutes”. Seriously! Reframe your focus to the time that you do have so that you can get something done.

Now before you start screaming “Are you kidding me, 5 minutes isn’t s*** with all that I have to do around here”, consider this… 5 minutes is a long time when the cashier at the drive thru tells you that you have to wait 5 more minutes and your kid is screaming that they’re hungry NOW.

Reframe Your Statements: I have five minutes

5 minutes is a long time when you realize that you are going to be 15 minutes late to work for the third time this week. 15 minutes is a long time when you have to wait for the bathroom and you have to go really bad. 5 minutes is also a long time when you are frozen in time by that song that brings you back to your childhood. 15 minutes is a long time when you get to hug your best friend after not seeing her for months.

The point is, in 15 minutes you can get something done, something that gets you close to getting it done. I don’t know when it is we decided, especially moms that we had to “get it ALL done”. I feel like I remember the saying in the 80’s to be “Get ‘Er Done” but nowhere did it say ALL. That got snuck in there and now we feel this tremendous pressure to get it all done.

Reframe your thinking and expectations

Yes, the tasks that we face may take longer than 5 minutes, but it’s better than nothing. And if you can see tasks in 5 minute increments, you are more likely to tackle more things over the course of a day. So, consider a typical example. You want to create home cooked meals for your family so that you save money, spend less time ordering out and eating healthier. The old you would have said “I don’t have enough time to make home cooked meals, that stuff takes 2 hours.

New you says, “I have 15 minutes, what can I put together tonight?”. Maybe you google something and find an instant pot recipe where it takes you 15 minutes to cut up the ingredients and dump it in for a decent home cooked meal. Maybe you recruit family members to take 15 minutes and cut up fruit, while another takes 15 minutes to set the table while you’re cutting up the main meal ingredients. This leads me to point number 2

2. Reframe Your Thinking: Recruit others to take up the 15 minute challenge.

Stop thinking that you have to do it all by yourself. Yes, you want things to be done in a certain way, and that way may be the “right” way, but you doing things your way ensures that you don’t have time to get it all done.

You were not designed to do it all. Ask for help, whether it’s from a service, a family member, a neighbor, your coworker, your friends. Give others free reign and let them take responsibilities.

Can you hire some help with cleaning your home? Have you asked another mom take your child to practice? Can you let your partner be in charge of dinner? So that means if you put your spouse in charge of dinner and they choose to put cereal and milk on the table with their 5 minutes, they completed the exercise and you saved money and didn’t order out.

3. Reframe Your Thinking: Consider where your time is being spent.

Are you scrolling needlessly on social media? How often are you checking your email? Every hour? Do you pick up your phone every time it “dings”? Are you saying yes to things that you don’t enjoy or feel like you have to do? Are you doing things that are time wasters instead of focusing on what’s important?

Consider doing a time study of your life. If you have an iPhone like I do, it tells me every week how much time I have spent on my phone. Before, when I used to scream “I don’t have time” but saw that I spent 5 hours a day on my phone, either checking email or scrolling or YouTubing or whatever, it put things into perspective.

I was also saying yes to attending networking groups when I HATE networking groups. What could I have done with those 5 hours instead? So now I changed how I do things. As much as possible, my mantra became, I have 5 minutes, what can I do in 5 minutes?” I would set a timer and go!

Instead of reaching for my phone in the morning to check emails, I put in a load of laundry, pull something out of the freezer and do some form of meditation. I don’t check my email until 9AM and typically again at 1PM and 4PM and that’s it. I only go to networking events that I look forward to participating in (and bonus most of them are now virtual so I don’t have to drive far).

Are there areas in your life where you can substitute a time waster for something productive? Can you plan out your days better to do things that you actually enjoy?

4. Reframe Your Thinking: Get into routines.

When you have certain habits, things take less time. Often things take less time than we anticipate and we put it off, leading to more work later. It takes 2 minutes (literally) to clear out your dishwasher and put things away. If you had an empty dishwasher could you put the dirty dishes from the sink away?

While you’re getting your kids’ bath ready. Instead of scrolling on social media (because you tell yourself they’ll be up in 5 minutes) or screaming at them to get ready for their bath (because it took longer than 5 minutes), can you do 10 pushups, and 10 squats? Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier, hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off and meditate.

I have learned that small habits lead to bigger habits and overall makes it easier to get things done. I have also found that when routines become established they require less time in the long run.

5. Reframe Your Thinking: Recognize that your energy will go in ebbs and flows.

Some days you will feel superhuman and get all of the things done. And some days you will barely get the basics taken care of. Recognize that and honor the energy of life. Do not think that because you needed to rest that you wasted your time.

And on days where you could kick butt and take names, get as much done as you can.

Let’s be honest and acknowledge that life gets the best of us sometimes. It is in those moments that we just have to ride its’ wave. But we do not serve ourselves and our mental health by seeing life as passing us by. So often, it feels like we have no control over our lives. And this can make you feel hopeless and helpless. But it does not have to be this way.

Time is a commodity that cannot be replaced. Let me repeat this, because it’s important. Time is a commodity that cannot be replaced. Money can be replaced. Stuff can be replaced. But your time, and how you live are things that you cannot get back. You want your life to be filled with moments of pleasure and ease. Do you ever take the time to ask yourself why you do what you do? Is it to impress other people? Do you think that this is something that everyone does? Are you afraid to pursue your passions? Does impostor syndrome make you overcompensate? Do you feel like you’re not good enough as you are? Does resting make you feel uncomfortable?

In Conclusion

Reframing our relationship with time starts with recognizing why we’re filling our time with so much stuff. It starts by recognizing that we CAN do things to control the situation, and get our time back. I’d love to hear how you’ve made out. #therapy #mentalhealthmatters #anxietyreduction #stressreduction #progressoverperfect

My name is Eddie and I am a therapist in Bordentown, NJ who specializes in trauma, anxiety and Mom stress. I provide online counseling throughout the state of NJ and specifically in Mercer and Burlington County, NJ (Bordentown, Chesterfield, Robbinsville, Hamilton and Princeton). Find me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Find me on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

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