work life

Planning to prevent stress? Yes!

In a new study out of Harvard, “25% of our happiness hinges on how well we’re able to manage stress.” Okay. Nothing groundbreaking there.

But what did the Harvard prof discover fights off stress the best?

Planning!

A couple highlights from the article:

“Epstein points to his friend, the late Harvard behaviorist B.F. Skinner, as a master organizer. (To the rest of us, Skinner is probably better known for his highly influential research on the effects of reinforcement on behavior.) ‘Skinner was amazing at managing stress. He was quite a planner. Not only did he plan his day every day, but he had a 10-year planner,’ says Epstein.”

“‘The most important way to manage stress is to prevent it from ever occurring,’ by planning, says Epstein. Of course, for some people, the idea of making checklists and calendars, organizing and planning ahead sounds, well, stressful.”

I love to plan. Every year, I set out annual goals, which I break into quarterly goals, which eventually become weekly and daily goals.

Does all that planning diminish my stress? To be honest, I have no idea. I’ve never not been a planner. While I do have a decent amount of stress – I’m anal with a Type A personality, after all – my guess is that it would be much worse if I didn’t have a clear-cut plan.

So planning = happiness?

Maybe not for all personalities, but it’s definitely something to think about.

Next time you’re stressed out, try whipping out a notebook and jotting down a quick list. Who knows? Maybe it’ll help alleviate some of the pressure!