There is an insidious problem that can sneak into your life and turn it upside down. It can wreck your health, your relationships and your career. As you probably guessed, I am talking about stress. Yes, we’re all exposed to it, but we don’t have to become infected.
Stress is a major problem for many people — a hectic, stressful job, a chaotic home life, bills to worry about, and bad habits such as unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking can lead to a mountain of stress.
If your life is full of stress, there are some simple things you can start doing immediately to get your stress levels under control. There was a time when I was stuck in a stressful lifestyle and it really began to affect me. So I made some drastic changes.
Changes that helped me overcome stress
I quit my job. I simplified my life. I started exercising more and eating healthier. And little by little I began to eliminate my debt. I also learned some habits that, when applied on a daily basis, can really transform the way you live, in a positive way.
How did I do all of this? One thing at a time. I didn’t do a major overhaul of my life. I changed one habit a month, and gradually over the course of a year or two changed a lot of things in my life.
I won’t guarantee that all of these will work for you. They worked for me, but each person is different. Pick and choose the ones that will work best for you, and give them a try. One at a time.
10 simple ways to overcome stress
1. One thing at a time. This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress, and you can start today. Right now. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Clear your desk of distractions. Pick something to work on. Need to write a report? Do only that. Remove distractions such as phones and email notifications while you’re working on that report. If you’re going to do email, do only that. This takes practice, and you’ll get urges to do other things. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better at it.
2. Simplify your schedule. A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Simplify by reducing the number of commitments in your life to just the essential ones. Learn to say no to the rest — and slowly get out of commitments that aren’t beneficial to you. Schedule only a few important things each day, and put space between them. Get out of meetings when they aren’t absolutely essential. Leave room for down time and fun.
3. Get moving. Do something each day to be active — walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, hit the gym. It doesn’t have to be grueling to reduce stress. Just move. Have fun doing it.
4. Develop one healthy habit this month. Other than getting active, improving your health overall will help with the stress. But do it one habit at a time. Eat fruits and veggies for snacks. Floss every day. Quit smoking. Cook something healthy for dinner. Drink water instead of soda. One habit at a time.
5. Do something calming. What do you enjoy that calms you down? For many people, it can be the “get moving” activity discussed above. But it could also be taking a nap, or a bath, or reading, or having sex (which can also be considered a “get moving” activity if you do it for longer than 5 minutes). Other people are calmed by housework or yard work. Some people like to meditate, or take a nature walk. Find your calming activity and try to do it each day.
6. Simplify your finances. Finances can be a drain on your energy and a major source of stress in your life. If that’s true with you, figure out ways to simplify things. Automate savings and bill payments and debt payments. Spend less by shopping less. Find ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money.
7. Have some fun! Have fun each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Is there something simple you like to do for fun, but you don’t do it because you are always too busy? Maybe you like to shoot some hoops or take a walk and watch the sun go down. If you have kids, take some time to play with them. find something to do every day that has nothing to do with work and any other responsibly, and take some time to enjoy yourself.
8. Get creative. Throwing yourself into a creative activity is another great way to reduce stress. I like writing, but others like to paint or play music or sketch or make pottery or do interior design or build things.
9. Declutter. This is a favorite of mine. I like to take 20-30 minutes and just go through a room, getting rid of stuff we don’t use or need anymore. I look around at anything that’s cluttering up a room, and get rid of it or find a better place for it. When I’m done, I have a nice, peaceful environment for work, play, and living. Do this a little at a time — it can be one of your “fun activities”.
10. Be early. I will admit that it’s hard to be early when you have to get 6 kids ready (seriously — try it!). But being late can be very stressful. Try to leave earlier by getting ready earlier, or by scheduling more space between events. Things always take longer than normal, so schedule some buffer time: extra time to get ready, to commute, to do errands before you need to be somewhere, to attend a meeting before another scheduled appointment. If you get somewhere early, it’s good to have some reading material.
Letting go of Stress
When stress continues over a sustained period of time it can have devastating results. Recognizing the value of eliminating stress doesn’t do us much good if we don’t have the right skills to actually do it.
If you are looking for even more ways to deal with stress here’s a great training video full of excellent tips on how to overcome stress and anxiety.
How do you keep stress manageable in your life?
What is your greatest source of stress?
The lines are open!
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