stressed out? image via flickr
Stress is a part of life. From time to time we’re placed in stressful situations, or start to find it difficult to keep up with the pace. And it can be hard to balance the demands of work, school, responsibilities, even hobbies and personal interests.
But sometimes… the stress just isn’t worth, and we can make adjustments in our lives to keep it to a minimum.
The following are some personal pointers, things that I actually do to prevent myself being unnecessarily wound up – and there is an undeniable benefit from being able to reduce levels of stress.
1. Identify the Exact Cause of the Stress
To reduce stress, you need to know what’s causing it in the first place. This may or may not be straightforward, depending on how obvious the root source of stress is. It is actually really easy to overlook our own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Remember: You play a role in maintaining your stress levels. For example, deadlines are often stressful due to time spent procrastinating earlier on. Make a mental note when I feel stress levels rising, for example ” I haven’t started x by y time and right now I’m being distracted by z which is preventing me from completing project a.” This can range from particular responsibilities to certain people. Evaluate weather or not these things can be eliminated, and if they can’t – find ways to reduce their impact.
Eliminate Unnecessary Sources of Stress
Some things can be completely eliminated. Remember, over-committing ourselves is often more counterproductive than it is productive. Multiple ongoing projects can get out of hand and wind up creating a lot of stress. Consider the value of each commitment in your life, and the amount of stress each causes against the value they deliver. Some things you may find to be far more draining and providing much less value in comparison to their stress-contributions. Focus on cutting these out first, even eliminating just one thing can leave you with considerably more time to yourself, and subsequently less stress. Check out this article for more information on “editing your life.”
And if you can’t eliminate it… find a way to reduce it.
3. Stop Procrastinating
Stress can often be traced back to the p-word, allowing things to pile up will stress you out. Regardless of how small the things you’re putting off seem to be. The best way to avoid procrastion is to just start. I often try and identify why I’m procrastinating, what exactly it is I’m trying to avoid (such as negative feelings I may experience). Sometimes, knowing what you’re trying to avoid can help you get around your aversion to doing so.
4. Leave Earlier
So much stress can be attributed to a general lateness, which often equates in being rushed to get things done. Feeling rushed toward a deadline has a negative impact on your state of mind while working on a tasks (often resulting in poor performance). Get started earlier. Get ready to leave earlier, get started on your tasks earlier. In some cases, you may only be able to do little things in preparation – but those little things add up!
5. Stop Worrying about Everyone Else
Trying to focus on your own tasks on top of other people’s tasks adds unnecessary stress. You cannot be in control of other people’s actions. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll be able to feel a lot more relaxed! If you’re delegating tasks, delegate properly – let the person you’ve delegated to do it. Hawking over someone trying to complete a task you’ve given them is wasting everyone’s time. Some people may surprise you with what they’re capable of.
6. Slow down
Stress can be caused by non-stop activity – so much to do, in such little time. Sometimes the big picture may feel overwhelming. This is when you need to take a breather, slow down and focused on the first byte-sized task in front of you. Divide up tasks until something makes sense to you. It may feel counter productive to physically slow down, but you’ll find yourself becoming relatively more productive in the process (less mistakes, stronger concentration).
7. Learn to Unwind
Life shouldn’t be stressful /all/ the time, you need time in which to separate from the chaos and have time out doing exactly what you want to do, not what you feel obligated to do. It can be anything from watching TV to playing video games to sitting on swings in the park. One of my favorite indulgences is the afternoon cat-nap! Keep blocks of time free for you.
Okay, you probably won’t eliminate stress overnight. The big factor reducing and eliminating factors of stress can take time, but start now! Small and frequent positive changes are undoubtedly going to help you in the long run.