It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. Hans Selye
Stress seems to be everywhere today. We all seem to be looking for ways to get rid of stress.
From the moment we wake up until the time we finally manage to get to sleep, finding a few moments of peace is becoming increasingly difficult for many people.
According to data from Statistics Brain, 77% of people in the United States regularly experience physical symptoms that are caused by stress.
Another 73% say that they regularly experience psychological symptoms that are due to stress.
Nearly half of all Americans feel like their stress levels have increased over the past 5 years.
1 in 3 people say that they live with extreme stress every day.
Although we cannot control the outside world and the stressful triggers it may send our way, we can control how we react to that stress.
You can choose to make life less stressful and enjoy it more because you have the ability to change your perspective.
Here are some ideas that can be implemented right now so that you can have more control over the stress that is in your life.
#1. Take Care of Yourself
When an extremely stressful situation occurs, the first reaction that many people have is one of shock or disbelief.
Sometimes anger, tension, or sadness may appear.
It may become difficult to sleep.
Some people may find that they just don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.
Physical symptoms often appear as well. This may include stomach problems, headaches, back pain, and high blood pressure.
In stressful situations, it is not unusual for people to turn toward an unhealthy coping skill to manage the cortisol surge.
Alcohol and smoking are two common behaviors that are used to deal with stress in unhealthy ways.
Unfortunately, coping strategies that include alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs have long-term consequences that can add stress over the long-term instead of subtracting from it.
That’s why the first idea to stop stress is to take care of yourself.
There are several ways that you can help your mind and body better cope with the challenges that stress may provide.
Try to eat meals that are healthy, with well-balanced nutritional content.
It might be tempting to eat triple chocolate fudge ice cream to feel better, but your body will appreciate a few servings of fruits and vegetables.
Get some exercise every day in some way as well.
Not only will the exercise help to support your metabolism, but it will also help you work out some of the stress that you’ve encountered.
It is also important to establish a consistent bedtime routine because sleep will help to restore the energy that you lose due to high levels of stress.
#2. Make Time for Meditation
One of the most common reasons why people consider adding meditation to their daily routine is because they are dealing with high levels of stress.
The goal of meditation isn’t to eliminate the stress.
It is to change how a person reacts to a stressful situation.
Life will always offer us a challenge. Without any turmoil, there would be no learning opportunities or chances to grow.
If stress is causing you to see life in a negative light, then meditation can turn that negativity into positivity over time.
Meditation isn’t just about relaxation.
It is also a process that involves an increased level of mindfulness.
You can even practice mindfulness meditation if you wish.
There are numerous options from which to choose when it comes to the type of meditation you decide to use every day.
You also have options when it comes to how you practice meditation personally.
Sitting in the lotus position and chanting a mantra might help some to maintain a proper focus with good posture, but that doesn’t need to be the way you meditate.
Sometimes a guided meditation is a great option.
There are numerous videos online that can provide you with a personalized experience.
Brainwave entrainment programs can help you to tune your brain to specific frequencies that support a greater level of focus.
You can also practice Qi gong, Tai Chi, Transcendental meditation, or even Yoga and experience the same stress reduction benefits.
The key to unlocking the potential of meditation is to find a comfortable, quiet, and distraction-free area.
You can meditate in bed, in the shower, in the woods, or even in the bathroom at work if that’s what it takes.
Meditating for 20 minutes every day should be the goal, but any meditation is better than none when we’re talking about stress reduction.
#3. Identify Your Triggers
What is the secret to a stress-free life?
It might be an ability to recognize what causes you to feel stress.
That way you can avoid your triggers more often.
Each of us has certain things that stress us out on a regular basis.
Spend a few minutes right now to think about what stresses you out.
- What are the daily events that cause stress in your life?
- Are there weekly things that offer you higher levels of stress every day?
- Do certain people or places trigger a stressful reaction?
There are many stressful triggers that we often ignore every day because we’ve learned to adapt to those responsibilities.
Going to the grocery store might be a trigger.
Since you like to eat, the stress is set aside for the greater good.
Setting stress aside does not make it disappear.
Recognizing this fact will help your life become less stressful in the long run because you can begin to make changes that limit your stress exposure.
Make a list of your top triggers.
Whole Living has a list of 11 common stress triggers that you may find to be helpful.
See if there are things that you can eliminate right away.
Not every trigger on your list will probably be completely eliminated, but there are steps that can be taken to limit your exposure.
If you don’t like going to the grocery store, then you could see if the store could deliver groceries to your home.
You could also consider subscribing to a service like Blue Apron to meet your needs.
There are always ways to avoid stress, but only when we can recognize that a trigger is present in the first place.
#4. Stop the Procrastination
Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well. Mark Twain
We all tend to put things off if they don’t need to be finished right away.
The only problem with this action is that it actually causes stress.
We think we’re giving ourselves a break, but we’re not. As things pile up, we get stressed out.
The first step to stopping procrastination is to eliminate anything that is unnecessary from your commitments or responsibilities.
Many people tend to be very busy, but they don’t need to be.
It is essential to be very honest with yourself.
There are likely several side duties that you’ve taken on as a responsibility that could be eliminated to free up time for yourself.
Once you’ve given yourself some extra time, it is important to make sure that you take an honest look at the task at-hand.
“I can’t do that,” is a common thought when there’s a tough task ahead of you.
Don’t blow it out of proportion. Take smaller chunks out of the task instead of trying to bite off the whole thing.
It can also be helpful to start with the most difficult task you have during the day. That way everything seems easier from then on out.
In the process of doing, the feelings of stress will often go away.
#5. Get Yourself Organized
We all live in a state of disorganization to some extent.
If you want to live a less stressful life, however, you’ll want to bring some extra organization into your daily routine.
Disorganization can stress you out in several different ways.
For starters, the chaos of a disorganized system immediately triggers stress for most people.
Think about it this way.
Look at your current PC or Mac desktop. Take a look at your smartphone or tablet.
Isn’t it easier to find a specific file or program when you limit your shortcuts?
Could you find a specific file if your entire desktop was covered in shortcuts?
Or find what you need if you’ve filled up every page on your mobile device?
When we are more organized, it becomes easier to find what we need.
This limits our exposure to a potential stress trigger. Visual clutter creates a stressful reaction.
If you feel like you are stressed out at home all of the time, then it might be time to start decluttering.
Start with your desk.
Get rid of the coffee cups, energy drink cans, spare papers, and other stuff that gets in your way.
Then move to your paper files if you still have them.
It will make you feel better. Then keep going.
Try to organize at least one room in your home every day.
#6. Be On Time
Is a stress-free life possible?
Not if you’re always running late to all of your appointments, engagements, or events.
Being late causes the mind to believe that it needs to rush through the chores you need to get done.
Then you feel the need to rush to arrive at your destination.
This is because you’re trying to avoid the social pressures that cause stress when your friends, family, or employer see that you’ve arrived late.
Sometimes you just can’t help being late.
Ask any parents who have young children and how much time they’ve spent trying to find the shoes that magically disappeared.
There are ways that you can break this habit and limit your stress.
It begins with a conscious effort to arrive early.
When you know that you’ll be able to be on time, this stressful trigger goes away immediately.
Several strategies can help you to avoid common stress triggers that come when you feel like you’re running late.
- Look up how much time it will take to get to your destination. If you’re unfamiliar with a route you need to drive, try to make time to drive it or look at a map so you’ll know what to expect instead of relying on your GPS.
- Time yourself so you know how long it will take you to be ready to go. See if there are ways you can lessen this time, such as setting your clothes out for work the night before.
- Add 15 minutes to your current estimation. Most people underestimate each task they need to accomplish by about 10 minutes. That means getting ready, driving, and finding a place to park could cost you 30 minutes you hadn’t anticipated.
By planning backwards and being more consistent with how you see time, it becomes possible to stop being in the habit of arriving late.
In return for these efforts, the amount of stress you feel every day will be much less.
Your employer will likely appreciate your efforts as well.
“It’s just easier if I finish this myself. Thanks for offering your help.”
How many times have you said something like this?
We often feel like we need to do everything on our own because we’ve been burned by others in the past.
It only takes one person to fail on a promise and make you look bad to stop the delegation process.
This is because that person violated your trust, which means the only person you really trust for the most important things is now you.
And, if you’re like the average person who was finally forced to delegate because your plate was too full, then you got burned again.
You’ll find numerous articles, blog posts, and similar content that tells you to stop trying to be the Master of your Universe.
This shows a misunderstanding of the situation and that causes even more stress because other people just don’t get it.
When it comes to delegation, there is a fairly safe way to let go of the tasks which consume the vast majority of your time.
Offer people the chance to do small tasks so they can earn your trust.
Show people what you expect when you’re delegating so the final result meets your standards.
Inc offers 6 ways to delegate more effectively in this article.
Yes – this will seem like it takes more time than if you just did everything on your own.
The extra time may cause extra short-term stress.
Think of this process as an investment instead of an immediate gain.
You’re not trying to control others.
Your focus is on making sure stuff gets done the right way.
With a little extra effort, delegation can be very helpful and be less stressful in the coming days.
#8. Stop the Multitasking
If you feel like you’re always running a little behind on everything, then there is a good chance that you are multitasking.
Up to 40% of your productivity can be lost when you spend time with task switching.
There are three types of multitasking that people tend to do on a regular basis.
#1. Two or more tasks are being performed at once, like paying attention to your Facebook notifications while attempting to complete a project at work.
#2. Tasks are switched from one to another without the first task being completed. This happens often when you’re in the middle of doing something, then stop for a minute to check your email or texts.
#3. Tasks are performed in rapid succession. You don’t stop to allow the mind to transition between each item on your to-do list.
Now here’s the problem: most people think they can multitask when they are genetically unable to do so.
98% of the human population cannot multitask effectively.
In fact, the amount of productive time that can be lost every time someone switches between tasks in an inappropriate way can be up to 15 minutes.
Nearly everyone believes that they are in the 2% of the population that are “super-taskers.”
In reality, the people who actually do multitask effectively don’t even realize that is what they are doing.
They just focus on what needs to be accomplished and then they do it.
By eliminating needless multitasking, you can limit the amount of stress you experience every day.
So stay focused on one task at a time and work to complete it.
In doing so, you’ll be taking one step closer toward creating a stress-free life.
#9. Get Some Beach Time
Sometimes you just need to unplug from the high levels of connectivity that we have today.
It’s not just social media that can cause stress.
The information that we consume from the Internet, the Mainstream Media, and alternative media sources contributes to high stress levels as well.
Even the ability to receive constant texts and messages from people thanks to your smartphone can be a stress trigger if people don’t give you some alone time.
Constant technology consumption can lead to a higher risk of sleep disturbances.
It may also be a contributing factor to certain mental illnesses.
Being plugged-in all of the time can also make it difficult to remember information.
Even the presence of a smartphone can be enough to reduce mental performance, which then leads to higher levels of potential stress.
This connectivity drains your energy.
That means part of the recipe for a stress-free life is finding a way to limit that connectivity at times.
There are many reasons why stress can appear due to our high levels of connectivity with one another.
We stop feeling like we’re missing out on something. FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is an emerging psychological disorder that occurs because of technology. We feel like we need constant notifications about what other people are doing. This causes us to keep checking on what friends and family are posting. If someone doesn’t post something, it literally triggers a stressful reaction.
We prevent negative feelings. 1 in 3 people feel worse after spending time on Facebook. People tend to post the best parts of their lives on social media, from family vacation photos to a promotion at work. This causes feelings of envy and jealousy to form, which eventually leads to loneliness and isolation if left unchecked.
We need moments of solitude. If you’re always connected, then you’re never really still. Sometimes the mind and the body need stillness in order to process the information that has been received. After all, your brain absorbs 34 GB of data every single day. That’s a lot of info that needs to be organized.
So unplug and go spend some time at the beach.
Go camping. Go hiking. Take a drive to visit a town where you’ve never been before.
While you’re at it, take away anything that drains your energy.
There are certain things in life that rob us of energy every day.
If you can limit these moments, then the amount of stress you’ll experience will be greatly reduced.
#10. Stop the Toxicity
“If this is how you feel, then I don’t ever want to speak with you again!”
Before we were so connected with one another, there was a certain amount of decorum that was emphasized in our communication with one another.
You typically spoke with people you knew. If you had a conversation with a stranger, it was generally pleasant and polite.
The Internet has changed this dramatically.
The perceived anonymity of a computer screen has caused many people to say unkind, spiteful, and purposefully hateful things with greater regularity to one another.
This is even happening with close friends and family members.
Spouses threatened to divorce because they voted for different candidates in the 2016 election.
Criticism is everywhere, with much of it on public forums.
What happens in response?
You get hurt… and hurt people tend to strike back.
This creates a cycle of stress that never seems to get broken.
You must choose to stop this cycle. You must stop the toxicity.
If someone is being toxic with you when you’re online, then they’ll be toxic with you at some point when you are spending time with each other.
You don’t need to have that toxicity in your life.
Friends and family members who are toxic cause high levels of stress.
Dealing with a toxic family member or friend isn’t always easy.
Finding a resolution can be stressful in itself.
There are some steps you can take before cutting the cord of a relationship.
- Tell your family and friends that you support them and their opinion, even if you do not personally agree. When people feel like they can communicate openly, there tends to be less passive-aggression.
- Practice self-care every day so that you have time to cope with the stress that toxicity typically triggers.
- Take action if you feel unsafe physically or emotionally.
It is important to remember that a person’s toxicity is a reflection of a personal problem they have with themselves.
Toxic people will try to blame you and trigger stress, but at the end of the day, you have done nothing wrong.
Toxic people typically behave with negativity to everyone with whom they interact, either in-person or online.
Toxicity is never okay as a behavior.
If you have someone trying to bully you into submission, don’t let them.
Stand up for yourself. It might seem stressful at first, but in time, it will also feel quite liberating.
#11. Slow Things Down
If you’re rushing through life, then slow things down.
Try to be more mindful in your everyday experiences.
Enjoy what you eat for lunch instead of rushing through it.
Listen to the people who are around you.
Take some time to enjoy nature.
Even if you’re stuck in standstill traffic during your commute home, you can take a moment to enjoy the wind coming through your car window or the blue in the sky.
Slowing down saves a lot of stress.
#12. Start Your Own Career
One of the biggest points of stress that people today tend to have involves their job.
They dread going to work every day.
46% of people list their current workload as their primary source of stress in life.
2 out of 5 workers say that their job is either “very” or “extremely” stressful.
Most workers today believe that they have more stress at work than previous generations.
1 in 4 people reports feeling burned out because of the stress they experience within their job.
In fact, job stress is associated with more health complaints than relationship issues or problems with money.
Sometimes the way to live a less stressful life is to remove the biggest trigger that you have.
Although it is a drastic step, quitting a bad job can be a good experience.
Of course that means you’ll stop earning a paycheck. Instead of working in a job you hate, consider creating a job that you love.
It is very possible to turn a hobby into a business venture these days.
Numerous platforms are available to help you create an at-home entrepreneurial opportunity.
From selling handcrafting items on Etsy to musical compositions on Pond 5, there is something to help everyone pursue their passions in an effective way.
You may wish to start your new business venture before you quit your job so there isn’t a dramatic change in your financial wellbeing.
There are times, however, when your physical wellbeing needs to be given a higher priority than a paycheck.
Is it possible to live a stress-free life? Probably.
To accomplish that goal, it is necessary to structure life in a way that is manageable.
Sometimes that means trusting others to give you a helping hand when needed.
It may also mean cutting ties with people who are consistently toxic and try to drag you down with their negativity.
You are in charge of your happiness.
This means you are also in charge of how you cope with stress.
By identifying what triggers you, you can implement an effective strategy that will limit the physical and emotional reactions that occur in stressful situations.