Ready, set, go – red-light, green-light.
Perhaps you have heard of the red-light; green-light analogy when it comes to things that occupy your time. I remember the first time I came across this concept. Again, I credit the psychologist, Meryem Brown, for enlightening me. Let me explain, as I found this concept really helpful in managing my stress and energy levels.
For me, green-light areas are studying/learning (as long as there is no exam associated with it!); teaching; and being on the emergency floor working alongside my wonderful colleagues. Some of these colleagues would add baking to my green-light area, as the more stressed I become, the more food I supply at work! These things are no effort for me, and I will continue to take on new tasks in my green-light areas, even when an outsider’s perception (especially my elderly mother!) would be that I am stretched to my limit. Red-light areas, on the other hand, are those things I “need” to do, that by their very nature, sap my energy and leave me feeling tired and unfulfilled. Again, this is very individual. Red-light areas for me include helping my husband to manage the human resource issues in his small business; tidying my teenager's bedroom and going to church meetings – doesn’t make these activities unimportant or low priority – they just serve to exhaust me. Add to this list managing our home finances. This means I need to ensure that in fulfilling my roles within responsibilities that are red-light, I balance my activities with green-light engagement. When I forget this principle, I feel constantly tired and frustrated regardless of the sufficiency of my rest or days off. Yet, if I couple these red-light areas with green-light areas, the fog lifts and I feel energised and enabled.
So, here is my challenge to you this week – take a moment to identify your green-light and red-light areas, then purposefully plan to include a green-light activity on a regular basis, especially when your red-light responsibilities raise their demands! My experience tells me this has the potential to change your day!
Dr Faye Jordan
Dr Danielle Scarfe