If I had a nickel for every time I heard a client say their life is just so stressful right now, I would be able to coach people for free! Heck, that would be the case if I had a nickel for every time I said it!
We’re all stressed. Stress is inevitable. We actually need stress in order to grow, learn, and adapt. So if it’s SO important, why does it make us feel so out of sorts?
Stress IS overwhelming, and is most often viewed as a negative thing taking away our true happiness in life. It doesn’t have to be because the reality is, is that many of the things we stress about, don’t actually need to be as stressful as we make them out to be.
I wrote this blog to help you build an awareness of the things that create stress in your life, how it’s affecting your health and lifestyle, and how to navigate these stressors and move toward a stress-free life.
The achievement of a stress-free life is quite the process, for it requires both mental toughness and resilience. You may or may not have those skills right now, but they can and must be built if you hope to be happy.
As a middle- and high-school aged softball coach, my athletes repeatedly hear the saying “focus on what you can control, the rest is not worth your stress.” School, friends, family, work, and softball are all stressful, but during my time as an athlete, I realized that I was overly stressing about too many things.
Naturally, I am a high-strung, Type A personality, and while I may never completely rid myself of those characteristics, I realized in college that all the stress was paralyzing me and I was in need of a change.
I remember going to college as a freshman with my entire life planned out – graduate in four years, great athletic career, move on to graduate school, get a job, get married, and then start my adult life.
Fast-forward to my senior year, I hadn’t a clue what I would do after graduation and I was PRAYING to recover from my injury-ridden, average junior season. Stressed is an understatement. I was a monster.
However, right before senior year, I started dating this guy who was the complete opposite of me. NOTHING stressed him out – not even his high-strung, Type A girlfriend.
I wanted that! He shared his secrets by telling me that there were things he just couldn’t do anything about and that the time to worry about them was when they were happening.
“Focus on what you can control, the rest is not worth your stress.”
In not so many words, that is exactly what he was telling me. I told that to my athletes and to myself, but watching this man LIVE it made all the difference.
One of us is still the Zen master, and the other, the student, but I have learned to stay positive and let more things brush right off my shoulder.
I wish you all could have a special someone in your life to teach you to stress less, but this one is taken. As I continue on my journey to a stress-free life, I can offer you some steps that can help.
Identify Major Stressors
- This is first because in order to eliminate our stress, you must identify what is actually causing the stress. Make a list of all the things that make you feel overwhelmed, get your heart rate up, or seem to consume the most time. Start with a top ten that is a mixture of daily and weekly stressors.
- Once you’ve identified WHAT is stressful, add to it WHY it stresses you out. After that, list HOW you can work around it and begin to weed out these stressors.
- This is the hardest and most time-consuming step, and you may realize some cannot be completely eliminated, but writing them out like this can help you make them less stressful.
- Think of everything you’re committed to – work, relationships, family, education, religion, clubs, groups, hobbies, friends, part-time jobs, and chores. Now, identify which ones stress you out, and evaluate if that stress is worth it. Think critically and logically. There are things you cannot get rid of – family and job come to mind. Think about your job, you NEED a job to make money and live, but do you enjoy your job or does it create TOO MUCH stress to the point it’s not enjoyable?
- Most of us lead crazy lives with days full of things needing to get done. Unfortunately, instead of getting things done, almost all of us procrastinate, which causes more and more things to pile on your plate. Sooner or later, the business makes us crazy.
- Plan out your days and weeks by setting time blocks designated to specific tasks. Really commit to those times, and don’t let other tasks creep in on that time.
- I have found the best way to do this is to make a list before bed of all the things needing to get done the following day. Then I look over my work schedule to set times to knock off things on that list.
- Exercise is proven to be one of the biggest stress relievers! It provides you the opportunity to release anger, stress, and frustration, but it also reinforces habits that promote a healthy lifestyle to carry you all through life. An unhealthy lifestyle is a major stressor in itself because of the negative factors that comes with it.
- Regardless your mode of exercise, it is often considered a form of meditation. Time away from work, family, and commitments and to take time for you!
- Think back to that commitment list. How many of those commitments were for you and you alone? So much of what we are committed to and dedicating time toward is for others. One of the biggest reasons we feel so stressed from day-to-day is because we never stop to slow down and allow time for us.
- Set aside 15 minutes per day for ME TIME! Go for a walk, read a book, meditate, journal, or whatever gives you time away from your crazy everyday life. Do not worry about what you need to do next, but focus on the current moment and enjoy!
Be Mindful of the People In Your Circle
- Nobody wants to tell a friend or associate they no longer want to spend time together, but sometimes a major stress relief comes from separating ourselves from those people. When there are people holding you back, you are unable to grow, find success, and achieve your goals. Politely weed out these people from your life so to not worry about what effect they are having on your life.
- Do you ever wake up in the morning, start to get ready, and realize how much needs to get done for the day? Your morning sets the tone for the entire day, and when you let the stress of all that needs to be done paralyze you for the rest of the day, you’re missing out on your full potential.
- When you make your to-do list, pick one item you can easily cross off your list to start off the day with. Something simple, but big enough to help you take a small sigh of relief and set the tone for the rest of your day!
Too often we let stress control our life, and it’s dangerous for our success and our health. You may not be able to simply rid your life of stress after reading this, but it is important to put these steps into action as soon as possible. Start with 1 or 2 of these steps and gradually add in the others until you’re living the stress-free life you deserve.
P.S. My life is nowhere near stress-free, and I continue to work through these 7 Keys. I am grateful for Brian, that special guy, who helps me realize to live in the moment and to worry about things as they are happening. You’re the best.