I attempt to keep my stress level under control, and you probably do too. I’m always looking for ways to reduce stress and to limit the number of things that add stress to my life.
But keeping stress tamped down is hard, and sometimes it’s just about impossible. Things we can’t control seem to swoop in and mess up our plans at the most inconvenient times, leaving us with more to do than we can possibly manage. Add to that the stress of events we really can’t control (like wars and pandemics!) and our stress levels can soar quickly.
But we aren’t helpless. Although we can’t control some stressful events and situations, we can control many others. We actually have more ways to reduce stress than most of us realize. In fact, I think we actually possess a lot of power in this area – we can take charge of and exert control over many of the things that add stress to our lives, if we decide to do it.
Because many of these things are under our control. They can seem small and maybe even insignificant, but they’re sneaky. And over time they add a lot of stress and strain to our days, and take a toll on our lives, health, and families.
So if you want to create more joy and calm – and reduce the craziness – here are 4 simple ways to reduce stress in your life:
- Control technology – Technology is a tool, but it can quickly become a tyrant. Many of us are connected to a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop for many hours each day. We don’t think that causes stress, but very often it does. It can make us feel anxious, by exposing us to more information than we need and making us feel as if we’re missing something when we’re not connected. If nothing else, it can interfere with real human interaction – with our spouses, children, and friends.
Try this – Determine if technology is causing stress in your life by setting time limits on it for a week. Schedule time when you’re going to be connected and time when you’re not. Use the unconnected time to interact with the people you love, exercise, get some fresh air, enjoy a hobby, or tackle a project you’ve been wanting to do. Do it for a week and see if it reduces your stress level.
- Limit social media – Closely related to our love affair with technology is our crazy relationship with social media. Maybe you spend hours on Facebook or Instagram. I can easily spend too much time on both – I want to keep up with friends, but I often end up falling down rabbit holes that waste time and energy. And then, of course, there’s the comparison trap – comparing our real lives with the “perfect” lives people share on social media.
Try this – If social media is increasing the stress in your life or causing you to waste time you’d really rather spend on something else, cut way back on it for a week. Set a time limit – no more than 15 minutes in the morning and the same in the evening – and set a timer. When the timer goes off, get off Instagram or Facebook and go do something you really want to do. If you find that you can’t stick with those limits, try going “cold turkey” – give it up for a week and see what happens
- Reduce drama – You know those overly emotional, highly dramatic reactions some people have to everyday life? And those woe-is-me and isn’t-life-terrible ways they react to problems and situations? Or their tendency to create trouble where trouble doesn’t need to exist? All of that is part of “drama.” It’s exhausting and stressful and you don’t need it in your life.
Try this – Look for unnecessary drama in your life. If you find yourself overreacting to people or situations, take some time to figure out why. If other people are creating drama that invades your life, figure out how to reduce it. Can you avoid those people or limit your time with them? Can you let their drama flow over you or around you, without it affecting you? (I do this with a person I spend time with quite often. She creates a lot of drama, but I don’t engage with it. I support her, but not in a way that sucks up my energy and peace of mind. And if people you can’t avoid (like close family members) are churning up drama, figure out if you can do anything to help them better manage situations and their reactions to them.
Also, watch out for “drama from a distance.” Although the level of drama in my family and friends is low (thank goodness!), I sometimes get involved in drama as an outside observer (angry arguments on Twitter, a controversy erupting all over Facebook). It’s ridiculous – and it’s exhausting and stressful. So I’ve had to train myself to avoid those kinds of interactions or move away from them as quickly as possible.
- Manage your family’s schedule – For many women, their family’s schedule is their #1 source of stress. It has them running from one activity to another all day, every day. It controls most aspects of their lives, and it wears them down. By the time they make it to the end of each day, they have little or nothing left for themselves or the people they love.
Try this – Read these articles on managing your family’s schedule and learning to say no. Then decide on one change that you want to make to your family’s schedule. If you’re married, talk with your spouse and decide on one change you both want to make that would reduce stress and increase peace and sanity in your life. Make that change, and try it out for a while. Then, make another change. Keep going until the stress in your life related to your schedule decreases significantly.
What are your strategies for dealing with things that cause a lot of stress in your life? Leave a comment or email me at hello @ healthylifetoolbox.com. I’d love to hear from you.