Modern life can be stressful but there are some key things you can stop doing that will remove stress from your life and give you back your sense of calm.
1. Stop being so hard on yourself. You will mess up sometimes. Learn from it, and let it go. You’re never going to be perfect and get everything right. Stop expecting yourself to. Instead, notice the things you are good at, that do go right, that don’t mess up. Notice your funny quirks, little talents and goofy features. Love them for their own sake. Notice all of the ways you’re pretty cool and stop sweating the other stuff you’re not yet good at.
2. Stop being so hard on the world. Unrealistic expectations are one of the root causes of unwanted stress and pressure. Life will not go smoothly so stop expecting it to. Accept life with all its glorious messiness. Kids will be noisy. Trains will be late and traffic lights will be on red at times. Accept it. You can’t control it so why get frustrated by it? Breathe and let it go.
3. Stop being so hard on other people. We are all as different on the inside as we look on the outside. But so often we get frustrated because other people react differently to how we’d want them to. Especially as more often than not, we’ve not even shared with them how we would like them to behave. Does it really matter if your Mum smooth’s down your hair whenever you see her? Or that the guy you work with talks about his reptile collection at every opportunity? We’re all weird, wonderful and unique in our own ways. Most people are not trying to deliberately frustrate you- they’re just trying to live their lives like you are.
4. Don’t give others the power to control your emotions. How many times have you said ‘he’s really winding me up’ or ‘she made me so mad’? If you take those thoughts to their logical end you’re suggesting that your emotions are in the control of other people. They’re not. You’re not a puppet waiting to have your emotional strings pulled by whoever you come into contact with. You can’t control other people but you can control your response to them.
5. Give up letting the reptilian you run the show. Our brains roughly consist of 3 areas – rational, emotional and primitive. It’s the primitive bit that kicks in when we feel threatened and produces what’s known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
It’s designed to help us fight off or flee from dangerous situations – like being attacked by a wild animal. Unfortunately it still kicks in even when it’s not life threatening – like your boss asking for the report a day early.
The reptilian brain is doing its job by shooting a load of adrenaline through your system but you don’t have to respond to it. You can learn to train your brain to recognize when a situation is truly life threatening and when it’s not. How to do this? Learn how to release the adrenaline and engage your rational brain. Questions are good for this – ask yourself how important the situation is on a scale of 1-10 (10 being life threatening), how important it’s going to be in 3 months time?
7. Give up on holding grudges. Forgive and let go. Holding onto blame and anger towards others acts like a poison in our souls. The crazy thing is, if I’m still angry at my ex-boyfriend who cheated on me 15 years ago the only person who’s even aware of that is me! He has no idea unless I tell him and most of us don’t do that – we stew and hold onto those resentments like a warm blanket while the other person gets on with their life in ignorant bliss. As Buddha said, holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Let it go and free yourself from the burden.
8. Stop settling for a life of boredom, dissatisfaction or frustration. If you really, really hate your job – find another one. If you hate where you live – redecorate or relocate. If you’re dissatisfied with your relationship do something about it – choose to love that person, work on your relationship or move on. Stop making excuses for not taking control and living your life (it’s the only one you’ve got after all.)
9. Remove all or nothing thinking. You don’t have to give your life a complete do-over to find fulfillment. Find some activities, passions and people that light you up inside.
10. Stop telling yourself you hate exercise – it might not be what you feel like doing, especially when you’re tense but it’s the bomb when it comes to releasing endorphins (happy brain chemicals,) and increasing alpha waves – the electrical brain patterns associated with calmness. Getting a little sweaty never hurt anyone.
11. Don’t run away from your feelings. Name your emotions, acknowledge them and accept them. Notice them without judgment. You’re going to feel sad, angry, downright demented sometimes – don’t judge yourself for the emotion, just be curious about where it’s come from and whether it is appropriate, effective and helpful to you. Only then can you begin to do something about it.
12. Give up pushing through exhaustion. If you’re getting overwhelmed or caught up in one particular issue or stressful situation – take a break. Go for a walk, listen to some music, read a book – just give your brain a rest from thinking about it for a while. You’ll be far better placed to tackle it again afterwards.
13. Stop sweating the small stuff. Remember what is truly important to you – yes things will get stressful at times but often we get ourselves stressed out about ‘the small stuff’ as Robert Carlson calls them. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being life ending disaster) how important is the thing you’re stressing about? How important will it be in a month’s time? 6 months time? 6 years time?
15. Surrender your phone/tablet/laptop. The temptation to be connected at all times means we are never truly unplugged. We don’t have to wonder or ponder anything – we can just look it up. We don’t need to day dream – we can keep ourselves occupied at all times. Which means we never truly switch off either. Our brains need time to rest, to recharge and to be calm. Give yourself the givt of boredom now and again.
16. Ban technology from the bedroom. Sleep disturbances are endemic with more and more of us experiencing insomnia, interrupted sleep or just plain sleep deprivation. A key cause of sleep disturbance is technology like phones, TV’s laptops and tablets in the bedroom. It’s not just that we’re using tech late at night but what this does to our circadian rhythm (the system within our bodies that tells night from day and keeps our sleep patterns in check.) Our bodies are diurnal – meaning they are awake in the light and sleep in the dark – the light from tech devises, coupled with the fact that we are using them right up to the minute we want to sleep means our bodies don’t get chance to wind down in preparation for sleep. Your bedroom needs to be a sanctuary for rest and rejuvenation. Think of it as a calm oasis in a hectic world.
17. End excessive worrying. Worry is mental rehearsal for disaster. It hasn’t happened yet. It may never happen. All that you have is this present moment. Oops, it’s gone. Ok this present moment….no THIS moment…you see what I’m getting at? As my 3 year old daughter says ‘It’s tomorrow today.’ We can spend so much time worrying about what might be that we forget to focus in on and notice what actually IS.
But the real trick…?
Putting it into action.
Another word for stress is pressure – and you can learn to handle it. Pressure is an inevitable part of life but it doesn’t have to hold you back. Learn some killer strategies to deal with what life throws at you, and practice them on a daily basis. Think of it like brushing your teeth or taking a shower – stress management needs to become part of your daily self care routine.
We know that life is short – we’re not here that long and it’s way too precious to spend it stressed out, overwhelmed and unhappy -especially when there are some simple, effectively ways to manage it.
|Written on 6/15/2013 by Jo Casey. Jo Casey is a writer, trainer, and coach who specializes in helping people build their resilience in the face of stress. She’s created the free Decompress & Boost Your Resilience In 5 Minutes A Day video course and is a guest contributor to a number of personal growth blogs. Visit her at http://www.jocasey.com|
Photo Credit: bottled_void