April is Stress Awareness Month, which is kind of a funny name when you think about it. Most of the professionals I know seem pretty aware that they’re stressed, all year long.   

Granted, the people who come to me for help getting a grip on time management and productivity are naturally going to be stressed! They’re largely realtors, consultants, business owners, attorneys and other professionals who have a ton of weight on their shoulders.  

There are probably people out there who build thriving business empires without going through periods of overwhelming stress… but that’s rare.  

While stress might be something you carry around every day, it does seem fitting that April is the month designated to talk about it.  

Spring is a notoriously crazy time of year for a lot of professionals. You’re dealing with taxes. In real estate and some other industries, spring is the busy season, so there are lots of long days. If there are kids in your house, you’re dealing with spring break and making summer childcare plans and trying to keep kids on track for the end of the school year. Then there are the cleaning and planting and organizing and all sorts of other household tasks that need to get done in spring.  

There’s so much going on and so much pressure that you might not even have the time or bandwidth to really look around and say, Yikes… I’m really stressed.  

So Stress Awareness Month is here right on time, isn’t it?  

Because yes, stress is normal! That’s true for all professionals, and maybe especially when you’re running your own business. But “normal” doesn’t mean “good” or “healthy” in this context. Despite what the hustle culture mentality might have you believe… being the most overworked and sleep-deprived person around doesn’t mean you’re the most successful. It might just mean that you’re never able to slow down and enjoy all the best parts of the life that you’ve worked so hard to build! 

In other words? Stress isn’t a badge of honor, or a sign that your business is flourishing. It’s a huge threat to your physical health, your mental health and your overall ability to be resilient. Stress doesn’t help you improve time management or achieve productivity. And, being overwhelmed by stress is not a requirement for building a thriving business, or taking your current business to the next level.  

How would you have answered these survey questions about stress?  

To illustrate just how prevalent extreme stress has become, let’s look at some of the findings from the American Psychological Association’s recent “Stress in America 2023” survey. 

Here are just some highlights that paint a concerning picture about how stress and stress management are showing up in people’s lives lately: 

  • The percentage of people who rate their stress level “between an eight and a ten” rose in nearly all age groups from 2019 to 2023. Among adults 35-44, nearly one-third rated their stress levels at least an eight. One in three parents also rated their stress levels this way.  
  • 33% of respondents said they “have too much stress in their day-to-day lives to think about the future.” 
  • 28% said they “have struggled with or had difficulty planning for their future in the past month because of stress.” 
  • 67% of respondents said they “feel like their problems are not ‘bad enough’ to be stressed about, because they know others have it worse.” 
  • 62% said they “don’t talk about their stress overall because they don’t want to burden others.”  

Alarming stats, aren’t they? If you see your own experience reflected in some of these numbers, remember this: it’s never too late to change the way you engage with stress. Work on tackling it now so you have the time and energy to actually enjoy a productive spring.    

3 Strategies for Minimizing Spring Stress  

#1) Build forecast flexibility into your daily and weekly plans. Look for ways to align your schedule with the weather to maximize your time enjoying the outdoors on those perfect, sunny spring days. Let’s say you’re looking at your schedule for the week ahead, and the forecast looks great for Monday and Tuesday but rainy and cold later in the week. Can you frontload those first few days with your in-person meetings and errands, and schedule more office work for Wednesday and beyond? At least you’ll be able to get some vitamin D and enjoy a relaxing breeze while you’re driving around town getting things done.  

Or, maybe you rearrange your plan for the day on the fly so you can get outdoors for a walk during the one break in the rain. Allergy sufferers might use this same general strategy to maximize time outdoors whenever the pollen counts are low. It’s all about using your flexibility to get outdoors and soak up as much mood-boosting sunshine as you can (without letting anything important slip through the cracks).  

#2) Spring clean your time management routines. The last time we talked about spring cleaning your time management routines, we were still in the height of the pandemic—so it’s probably time to revisit the idea! In this context, “spring cleaning” really means, “assess how well your current routines are working for you so you can tweak them in ways that help you better control stress.” Think about specifics and patterns. Is there a time of day that routinely ends up feeling super chaotic? A specific routine or process or client meeting that always ends up raising your stress and anxiety levels?    

#3) Sample some simple stress relief hacks to find the ones that work for you. Getting up to go for a relaxing walk around the block just isn’t always feasible in the middle of a busy day. So this step is all about experimenting with some simple strategies that you can use to quickly soothe anxiety and lower your stress levels, wherever you are or whatever you’re doing. As I often say, we’re all wired differently, which is why this might take some experimentation! Aim to do activities that stimulate the vagus nerve, which should help switch off that fight-or-flight mode that happens during stressful moments. Massaging your feet, placing an ice cube of your neck and humming along with soothing music are all examples of easy vagus nerve stimulation techniques, per the Cleveland Clinic.  

Need More Support Managing Stress and Maximizing Productivity?  

Join me for Time Matters Boot Camp, starting April 15th! This 90-day program is designed for professionals who are overwhelmed, stressed by time management and just don’t know what they’re doing wrong or where to go next. Every participant creates their own customized productivity toolkit of routines and strategies that will work for their specific life and specific business.

Click here to learn more, or set up a time to chat about whether boot camp is the right fit for you.  

Be well, 


Sarah Reiff-Hekking