I have some news for you that may come as a shock. Stress is a choice. I know it seems crazy but it’s true. We usually think of stress as the thing that happen to us in life, but stress is actually our perception of what happens to us. Here are 4 strategies to help gradually change your stress perception to lead to a calmer life:
- Take short moments to yourself. It might be ideal to take a vacation or a spa day when things seem overwhelming in life but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Even just 5 minutes of quiet, alone time can be recharging enough to keep you calm and level headed through the craziness of everyday life. Commuting in the car might seem like anther stressful thing in your jam packed day but it’s actually the perfect place, especially if you do it alone. Turn the radio off, take some deep breaths, feel the steering wheel in your hands and practice being completely present in this mundane, often stressful, everyday task.
- Prioritize. When it seems like you have a million things on your to-do list for the day, take 1-2 minutes in the morning and divide your tasks into three categories: must-do, would-be-nice-to-do, and can-wait-until-another-day. If you HAVE to drop your kids off, go to work, sneak in a lunchtime workout and stop by the grocery store then just stop there. Other errands that can wait, should wait until another day.
- Plan to fail. You’re probably used to the phrase, “fail to plan, plan to fail” but I prefer this one. What this means to me is that I start with the expectation that things are not going to be perfect and I might not get everything finished right away. That doesn’t mean I sit around all day and watch TV, instead it means I celebrate my successes and don’t beat myself up if I had 10 things on my list and I only got to 6. That’s SIX THINGS that you completed that day that wouldn’t otherwise have been done! Totally worth celebrating. Start with the expectation that you are doing to work hard and do your best and that’s is just going to be enough. Period.
- Keep things in perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of everyday life. I get it. The reality is, once our basic needs are meet (food, shelter, safety, etc.) everything is probably going to be OK. Seriously, it will. There aren’t too many things in everyday life that are really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things and being able to come back to this realization is a game changer in your stress management practice.
These are just a few of an endless number of ways to manage stress and improve your health and quality of life. We love to help people with stress and stress related health problems so let us know if you need help.