One of the hardest things I've found about self-publishing is the amount of stress you have to deal with. You are literally doing it all by yourself! That can truly take a toll, never mind trying to work and go to school at the same time! (Help.) But, stress can come from anywhere, not just self-publishing. School, work, relationships... all of these things can be more stressful than they should.
The most important thing you can do when the stress-mess hits is to make sure you are taking time for yourself. The book will still be there when you get back. You can't do everything at once! Honestly, one of my biggest weaknesses is trying to do too much too fast. I have to consciously tell myself to stop, slow down, take a break, etc.
So, here, I've put together a few tips on how to manage when it feels like there's so much to do and not enough time. I've also included some self-help tips and tricks for those days when you've already had enough before even getting out of bed in the morning.
Managing the Things:
1. Put things in order. What is the most important thing you need to get done? What can wait until tomorrow, or even next week? Prioritizing can help you get your ducks in a row, and make everything seem less overwhelming. Then, picking one or two things to do per day can make everything seem more manageable!
2. Make a list. I like to color code mine myself based on the purpose of each task.Writing everything down that you can possibly think of that needs to be done can turn those things from intangible, never-ending concepts, into a finite, concrete, itemized list that you can tackle one thing at a time. Pro tip: make little check boxes beside each item you need to complete, and check them off as you go! Ahhh... so satisfying.
3. Plan ahead. Know when you're going to have days that you simply cannot get things done, and be okay with that! On the flip side, know when you'll have days with lots of free time, and use (some of) that time to catch up where you feel like you've fallen behind. Doing a little extra editing one day can make you feel a lot less guilty about that lazy day you took!
4. Eliminate distractions. I am so guilty with this one. If you try to do too many things at once, each thing can distract from the other, and make your work overall less productive. And, obviously, other work isn't always the only distraction out there. Put away your phone, close Facebook in your browser (literally, as I'm typing this, I just got a Facebook notification from my browser! I need to follow my own advice. *closes Facebook*), go sit somewhere comfortable and quiet, and just focus on the task at hand.
Taking Care of Yourself:
1. Get enough sleep. I cannot emphasize how much this will turn your world around. If you're like me and you're a night owl, try to get into a routine that makes you sleepy. Don't use electronics 30 minutes before bed, read a book (duh!) before you fall asleep, and listen to some white noise as you're closing your eyes.
2. Go cloud watching. Not the best in the winter, but depending on where you live, I highly recommend it! This is one of my favorite things to do when I'm stressed, and it's especially fun if you have a creative mind!
3. Start a compliments jar. Every time (that you remember) that someone compliments you, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. Try to write down as many details as you can, including who said it and where you were. Then, when you're feeling bad about yourself, or about your work, or just in general, start going through those compliments. I guarantee you'll feel a bit better!
4. Be selfish. Do something just because it makes you happy. Eat that extra piece of chocolate. Snooze your alarm one more time. Stop and get ice cream. Read that one last chapter before bed. The world will still go on, even if you did all of these things and more.
5. Dance, even by yourself. I know this sounds silly, but one of my favorite things to do is to create a playlist of songs I just can't help but dance to (I highly recommend this playlist on Spotify), go hide in my room, blast the music on a little speaker, and just dance by myself. Even if I just do that for five minutes, it can bring me out of any funk I find myself in.
6. Write your thoughts. And this one I mean specifically for the writers out there. Sit down, with some paper or your computer or whatever, and just start writing down what you're thinking. Make it as poetic or coarse as you want it to be. Give these thoughts to a character. What would that character do? How would they handle those thoughts? Maybe they would cry and scream and run away, or maybe they would take control, relax, and try to bring themselves out of it. Either way, I've found that doing this can be therapeutic, and can also help jump-start my creative juices when I'm in a writing lapse.
7. Home spa day! Take a bath, not a shower. Make the water as hot as you can stand it. Put some bubbles in the bath, or a bath bomb if you have one. Soak, for as long as you want. Put on a fluffy robe, and go a read a book on the couch or in bed. Make some tea (black, with honey, or milk and sugar). Love yourself.
I hope this article has helped you as much as I intended it to. If any of these ideas have helped you de-stress, then I've done my job. If you think any of your friends could use some of this advice, don't forget to share this post!