10 Tips To Alleviate Stress
Everyone has stress in their life. Living a life stress-free…well just isn’t in the cards really. Life would be pretty boring if we always got what we wanted and everything just ran smoothly. There are many stresses that greet us everyday and come in a variety of disguises e.g. work, family, traffic, being late, dog vomit on the carpet etc… Certainly some things stress us out more than others.
There are typically two situations where I find myself most stressed:
1. When things are outside of my control.
2. When I’m performing at a level lower than I know I’m capable of due to poor planning or organizing.
OK so for a control freak not getting stressed over things I can’t control is REALLY difficult. But over time I’ve come to terms with it. No matter how hard I try I know I can’t make anyone be a little nicer or a little more helpful. I also know that I can’t reprogram all the traffic lights on my route home so I don’t have to wait at red lights, and I’m OK with that, now. As soon as I realized the only thing I could control was me and my reactions I immediately started to feel less stress in that regard.
The other main stressor for me is not living up to my self imposed expectations. Yes this deals directly with the thing I do have control over, ME. I truly and honestly feel I set realistic expectations for myself to live up to. Some are a bit of a stretch (i.e. more challenging) but setting easily attainable expectations doesn’t test you, doesn’t really show you what you are capable of.
As an example, I know I am more than capable of hosting a dinner for 15 people and having the whole stage set before anyone even arrives. So, when I’m not organized enough or haven’t planned it sufficiently that’s when I start getting stressed. Dinner time slips, people help to get the food ready, they also set the table etc. All of these things cause me stress. I want the dinner to play out a certain way but it doesn’t, because of something I’ve failed to do.
Now I know that no one else has these expectations, that’s why I never make a big deal about the dinner or any other situation I happen to be in. But it is a stress that I feel. I’ve gradually learned to let go, relax and unclench a little. Keeping a few things in the forefront of my mind help me when stress creeps in. Give these a try next time you feel a little stressed:
1. Know what stresses you. Identify sources of stress in your life. How are you supposed to know what to change, leave out or avoid if you haven’t given this any thought? What stresses you the most? A particular coworker, talking to a relative, or driving. List these stressors and gain some insight into what bugs you.
2. Get ‘er done. Procrastinating can be a huge source of stress for most people. Constantly being faced with things you should be doing but are putting off is certainly no way to promote relaxation. Try taking on a “get ‘er done” mentality. If a task will take but a few minutes to finish do it then and there (e.g. fold laundry, pack or unpack the dishwasher, hang up jackets etc…). Tackling things that are prominent and in your face will help heaps!
3. Make a plan. If you are not able to “get ‘er done” in a few minutes, at the very least make a list of tasks that you need to get around to (e.g cutting the grass, calling the carpet cleaners, organizing the books etc…). Be sure to put a date or time next to the items that are time sensitive. Post reminders where you are most likely to see them so you don’t forget and add even more stress!
4. Lose control. The sooner you realize that you have no control over other people or situations the easier it will be to take things as they come and eliminate a lot of stress from your life. Ultimately, you control only yourself and your reactions to others and situations. So, the next time your coworker takes the last cup of coffee and neglects to make more don’t stress. Really what good is it going to do? Stress or don’t stress, either way there is no coffee and you need to make more yourself. So why not choose to make the coffee and not stress about it? Duh! right?
5. Eliminate clutter. It’s impossible for me to relax and enjoy my time in an environment that is cluttered. Feeling closed in and buried under a pile of “stuff” is not my idea of a good time. Clutter isn’t just physical “stuff” in a space it can also be clutter in my mind in the form of thoughts, mental lists and reminders. It helps a ton if you write it down and get it out of your head. This way you won’t stress about potentially forgetting something (see point 3 above).
6. Take a hike. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. The physical act of exercising can act as a distraction from what it is you’re stressed about. And what’s more is during exercise a family of hormones, called endorphins, are released in your brain and naturally generate a feeling of happiness. So head to the gym for a work out, pop in an aerobics video at home, get out in the fresh air and walk or run, what ever floats your boat. Point is moving will make you feel less stressed.
7. Be still. Taking time to be quiet without any distractions is a great way to reduce stress. The most effective form of this is meditation. Clear your mind, relax, find quiet and get into your own head. This helps gain perspective on what’s causing you stress in the moment.
8. Just say no. This is a toughie for some people but trust me IT WORKS! Reduce commitments in your life to only those things you really want to do, love to do or need to do. Learn to become OK with turning down invitations if you really don’t want to go and don’t sign up for any more classes, courses or retreats unless you really want to do them and feel you will benefit in some way. This one takes practice. You’ll know when you’ve really got it mastered when you can say no, mean it and not feel guilty.
9. Write it out. At the end of each day I document what happened. I usually find no matter how stressful of day it was only the good things shine through in my journal. These gems are what shine through the ore of the day and writing these out really help me put into perspective how good life actually is. There is a lot to be grateful for and if you’re living a very stressful life it’s difficult to see this sometimes.
10. Outline your day. I’ve been living off a daily outline for nearly a year now and it’s one of the best things I’ve done. As a creature of habit it adds predictability and helps get rid of the question: well now what? Another tip to outlining your day is to hone your daily task list to something that is manageable with a bit of stretch. I guarantee it’ll be rewarding and a lot less stressful.
What things tend to stress you out? What do you do to help keep stress at bay? Head on down to the comments share!
Photo courtesy of: stephmcg
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