Don't stress. Do your very best. Appreciate each step. Forget the rest.
Stress is one of the primary causes of major health problems in our lives: it can cause heart disease, anxiety, sleep deprivation, auto-immune disorders, weight problems, unhappiness, and even deep depression.
But we're busy - we all have places to be, things to do and people to see. So how do we alleviate stress and still get our work done right (without neglecting our loved ones and ourselves)?
When life gets crazy busy, you might not have time for week-long meditation and yoga retreats, weekend vacations, or even weekly life coaching sessions. So what can be done?
I'm going to be brief about this, because time is of the essence. There are nine simple things you can do. A few mindset shifts and a couple actions that take only a couple minutes. These can't solve the most severe stress related problems, but they can help most of us in a major way, every day.
Instead of being in a stressful task-switching state of mind, take your next task, let everything else go, and just be in the moment with this one task.
Let yourself be immersed in this task by letting go of the feeling that you need to quickly rush through it - that you need to move on to the next task waiting for you. There will always be a next task, because that’s the nature of TO-DO lists - they’re never-ending. So let those later tasks come later. Just be 100% in this one task, like it’s your entire world.
Bottom line: Slow down. Breathe. Review your commitments and goals. Put first things first. Do one task at a time. Start now. Take a 5-minute break in an hour. Repeat. (And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.)
Fear is causing you to be stressed, not external factors like your job obligations or family issues. Those external factors are just a part of life, but they become stressful when you fear failure, fear people won’t like you, fear you’re not good enough, fear abandonment, and so forth.
Your fears are based on some fantasy in your head about how things are supposed to be (and you fear that your life may not live up to that fantasy): you have an image in your head that you’re going to be perfect, have people like you, be comfortable all the time, and succeed on all fronts.
These fantasies are a way to feel in control of a world that you don’t actually control, but they’re hurting you by causing fear and stress. Instead, let go of control. Be OK with chaos and uncertainty, and trust that things will work out. You’ll fear less and feel less stress.
We get upset with others because they don’t meet our fantasy of how they [should] act. Instead, try accepting them for who they are, and recognize that, like you, they’re imperfect and seeking happiness and struggling with finding it.
They’re doing their best. Accept them just the way they are. In most cases it’s impossible to change them anyway, and it’s rude to try. So save yourself from needless stress.
Instead of trying to change others, give them your support today and lead by example.
When things are getting really stressful, take 5-10 minutes to take a walk and clear your mind. A short walk does wonders. It gives you something new to look at and it gets your body moving.
people who have recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation or job loss, always see an immediate mood boost after a short outdoor walk. It’s literally the most effective way to instantly reduce the stressful pressure of a worried mind.
Right about now, you should consider taking a break from work and go for a short, peaceful walk (in a park or green space if there’s one nearby). Again, this is not unproductive lollygagging, it’s likely to have a restorative effect on your mind and help with attention fatigue and stress recovery.
You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. Behind every stressful feeling is an untrue thought. Before the thought you weren’t suffering, but after the thought you began to suffer. When you recognize that the thought isn’t true, once again there is no suffering.
When you change your thoughts, you change your life. So next time you catch a thought stressing you out, ask yourself these four questions:
Sometimes the reason we struggle with stress and insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes circumstances with everyone else’s public highlight reel. Give it up. Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 15. Follow your own path, write your own life story, and never give up on yourself.
Next time you catch yourself comparing your life situation to someone else’s, refer to these two formulas:
Overlooking everything that’s wonderful is a tragedy. Do your best and surrender the rest. When you stay stuck in worried thoughts of the life you think you should have, you end up missing the beauty of what you do have. You will have a hard time ever being happy if you aren’t thankful for the good things in your life right now.
Here’s a super simple, five-minute, daily gratitude exercise that has worked wonders for thousands of our coaching clients over the past decade:
Every evening before you go to bed, write down three things that went well during the day and their causes. Simply provide a short, causal explanation for each good thing.
That’s it. We spend tens of thousands of dollars on expensive electronics, big homes, fancy cars and lavish vacations hoping for a boost of happiness. This is a free alternative, and it works.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your body is the greatest instrument you own. So when all else fails, and your stress levels are mounting, use your body to sooth your mind.
The mind reflects your body by responding to its levels of tension, rate of breath, speed of movement and mental focus. Likewise your body mirrors your thoughts, feelings, mood, and responds to your state of mind, the questions you ask and the words you speak.
So if the mind and body are intrinsically connected - meaning that one has a direct affect on the other - it becomes clear that if we directly and consciously take control of one, it will influence and transform the other.
By mindfully adjusting how you use your body you can directly influence your state of mind, and dramatically transform your attitude. Just imagine you’re sitting there in a bad mood, shoulders hanging forward, shallow breathing and frowning.
Go ahead and do this right now to experience how it influences your state of mind. And then do the opposite: stand up straight and put a big smile on your face. Take some deep, strong breaths and stretch your arms into the air.
Notice how you feel better?
Bottom line: Take the vehicle your creator has given you and use it! Your body is the best tool for changing your attitude and relieving stress in an instant.
If you have extra time after doing those nine things, I have a few other recommendations that will help:
Ironically these activities often cause more stress. So don’t do this to yourself. Instead, use the ideas I’ve provided to cope without these unhealthy crutches.