Stress happens – it’s how we deal with it that’s important. We seem to need a bit of stress in our lives, otherwise we wouldn’t get anything done. But too much stress can be bad for us, leading to all sorts of complications.
Whilst you can’t eliminate all stress, there are some ways that can help you to stop being stressed out as much and chill at least a bit more.
It doesn’t have to be much exercise – you don’t need to schedule hours in the gym unless that’s your idea of fun.
Even a walk round the block can help – it stretches your legs, gets you out in the (hopefully fresh) air, changes your view of the world and generally provides a break and a chance for you to mull over whatever it is that’s been stressing you out.
I find that even a short 5 or 10 minute walk gives me the chance to break my stressed state and come back down to earth.
Actually talk to people (face to face)
Holding a conversation rather than texting or messaging seems to be something of a lost art.
Technology is standing between us and other human contact but we’ve evolved over the years to generally interact with other people. If you lose that – or lose most of it – then you can stress about it, even though that’s not what you thought was causing you to be generally less than 100%.
Make an effort to actually talk to people – even a brief “Hi, how are you doing?” helps. And if someone asks you that, do your best not to respond with the fairly standard “Not bad” because that sends the wrong signal to your body.
NLP (neuro linguistic programming) says that we have issues responsing to negatives and most of the time our mind just deletes them. We can cope OK-ish with them in written work because we spend more time processing what’s written. But unless you’re watching something online or on TV, you can’t rewind a real life conversation so the negatives bypass most of your thought process. It’s why adverts are so effective – they can say things that pass regulators because it’s true (“won’t give you the results of a face lift” is one of my favourites) but our minds cross out the negative words and ignore them.
So instead of saying “I’m not bad” get in the habit of saying “I’m good” – it will help your overall well-being.
Schedule some time to yourself
It’s too easy to prioritise everyone else and leave yourself stranded.
At times, it seems as though everyone else is nagging you and pressuring you. So you end up pressuring yourself and letting your health fall by the wayside in the process.
At times, it seems like everyone else is pushing you to hit their deadlines at the expense of your own.
Somehow, you need to schedule some time that is exclusive to you.
For me, it’s playing myself a meditation track last thing at night, I do that on a regular basis and find I’ve been generally calmer in the years that I’ve been doing it.
For you, it could be something else – a long, warm, bath; reading a book; watching some TV or a film.
Figure out whatever works for you and then take the time to do it on a reasonably regular basis.
Be careful what you eat and drink
Comfort food is often “wrong” for us.
Yes, it may be comforting but often that comes at the expense of our longer term health.
OK, the occasional cake or other treat probably won’t hurt. But when occasional becomes too regular then it’s an issue.
The same goes for alcohol – it’s a depressant, not a relaxer.
And caffeine has the effect of hyping you up. Like most things, it’s probably OK in moderation but when it’s nearly on drip-feed then it’s time to wean yourself off it.
As is so often the case, it’s worth following the 80/20 rule (Pareto) and aiming to make sure that most of the time what you eat and drink is OK but not stressing about the times when you stray from the straight and narrow.
Stop being a perfectionist
Being a perfectionist and also taking on too much “stuff” is bad news for your stress levels.
Unless your work is truly mission critical, it probably doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect.
Spell checkers help with spelling – although mobile phone auto correct doesn’t always get that right.
Other things in our lives keep us on track in other areas.
But if you’ve ever made a recipe where you didn’t weigh absolutely every ingredient down to the last gram, you’ll know that getting close enough to perfection gives a decent result.
That goes for every area of your life.
Stopping your quest for perfection could be the help you need to reduce your stress levels back to normal – even if you worry about stressing out that you’re not being perfect.
Likewise, taking on too much can be an issue. Especially if you’re friendly and don’t like to say “no” to anyone in case you offend them.
Then you stress out about not getting something done that you’ve promised, pushing your stress levels higher than is good for you.
Learn to say no at least a bit more often – other people will respect you for that,
Accept that some things are out of your control
Almost everything you see or hear about on the news is out of your control.
For starters, it almost certainly happened in the past.
Often it’s hundreds or thousands of miles away.
But even something someone else next to you is doing is probably not in your control. They might be humming or whistling to themself but unless they react to you asking them to stop then there’s not much you can do about it.
Computers and phones have a mind of their own and even the supposedly simplest things can conspire against us. You didn’t write the software that’s not working as expected or has helpfully moved all the menu buttons to Pluto. So don’t stress about it. Enlist some help if necessary rather than take hours to do what should be a simple task.
Learn to relax
Relaxing is something most of us don’t do enough of.
Take the time to chill out a bit. You’ll know what relaxes you – maybe listening to music, the short walk I mentioned earlier, reading a book, whatever else.
Consciously take the time to relax more often. It’s good for your overall stress levels.
And consider listening to a de-stress hypnosis track as part of your relaxation process. The hypnotist has done all the hard work – all you have to do is relax and listen and let your subconscious mind absorb the suggestions.