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As part of a new study in the Journal of Marketing Research about how we experience clashing priorities, researchers zeroed in on two methods that could help us overcome mind games we may be playing on ourselves.
The kind of stress they examined isn’t just an idle complaint, either. Ongoing stress can cause harmful consequences such as poorer health, trouble sleeping, and depression, the researchers said in a statement.
When various responsibilities clash—working late on a project versus getting a proper dinner on the table by 6 p.m., for instance—we feel more time-starved than we actually are, the researchers found.
Study subjects were asked to list daily tasks and envision completing them. Then they were told the tasks conflicted with each other. When tasks conflicted, the study subjects felt anxious and more pressed for time than when the tasks did not conflict.
This was true even if the tasks didn’t actually compete for their time but were emotional, having to do with guilt, for example. (Think about the time when you’d really rather be at the park with the kids instead of in a meeting—or vice versa.)
How to find more time
So, what are the two methods they found to beat these time-crunch woes?
The first was slow breathing, not unlike you’d do in a yoga class. When researchers asked some participants to take 10 breaths, counting to 5 while inhaling, and 6 while exhaling. It worked, making them feel less constrained by the clock, reports New York magazine.
The second was to read the line "I am excited!" three times—and believe it.
Afterwards, participants did not feel as pressed for time as they had first feared, according to a statement.
Sure, it sounds a little corny, but who among us isn’t up for new ideas to make the day go a little more smoothly?
For more on how to beat stress, here are 5 surprising symptoms and 5 tips to help.