Saturday, December 4th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


When our youngest son was little, he had a stressful game that was appropriately called "Perfection." The game consisted of putting differently shaped objects into the correct slots. Each fit into only one slot and no other. What made the game so stressful was that the player had a limited amount of time to get all the pieces in the right slots before an alarm went off. When the alarm sounded, all of the pieces would fly out of their slots. 

When Karen or I played the game, we went as fast as we could before that timer went off. When it was our son’s turn to play, he would take his time putting the pieces in their slots. He was in no hurry. We would think, "The alarm is about to go off," but he didn’t seem to be stressed by that idea. When the alarm was about to sound, he would nonchalantly reach over and turn the timer back, giving himself more time.
One of the ways we create stress for ourselves is by not allowing enough time to complete tasks.

We all have known people
who wait until the last minute
to plan an activity.
We may be one of them.

There are several things we can do to reduce the stress we make for ourselves. The following are some suggestions I have found to be helpful:

Learn to plan: We all have known people who wait until the last minute to plan an activity. We may be one of them. For example, we may put off getting things together for our child’s birthday until an hour before the party. Frantically, we run around trying to get things done—uptight and yelling, creating stress and tension for everyone in our home. Lack of time management can be a major stressor.

Because some of us do not structure our time, we always seem to be running late for appointments. If we are the type who hates being late, we find ourselves uptight and driving like a crazy person trying to get to our destination on time.

Conclusion: Disorganization and putting projects off until the last minute leads to stress.

Advice: Get organized and plan ahead.
What to do: One of my favorite professors was a popular speaker who shared how he dealt with his busy schedule. When he was asked to speak, he would look at his calendar to see if the day was open.  But he did not stop there. He then figured how much time it would take to prepare for this presentation. Starting at the requested date, he worked backward to see if he had enough preparation time. If he did not find enough time to prepare, he would decline the invitation.
So to relieve stress, make sure we have enough time to prepare.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700