How to Be Less Stressed

We’ve all seen them. Those articles that claim to have the secret to reducing stress in your life. They suggest things like: avoid toxic people, form better habits, become aware of your stressors, and things like that. And as amazing as those things are, the truth is, for the most part the most stressed out people are not always in a place where they can turn their lives upside-down. As great as it would be to restructure our days using these silver bullets these magazines give us to form better habits and cut people that stress us out from our lives, that’s not always realistic.

We can’t always cut Karen from Finance out of our lives despite the fact she’s rude and condescending, comments on what you’re eating, and is generally toxic; because you work with her and you have to deal with her. We can’t always get up hours earlier in the morning to do yoga because you work at 7 AM and were up until 1 AM doing homework. If you’re reading this and thinking, that’s silly, I can balance everything, those articles work wonders for me! Congrats! You’re more stable than I am and I wish you the best of luck, but if you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah! Karen is horrible and I want to form better habits but I don’t know where to start.” Then girl, I gotchu.

Something that those articles typically don’t cover is that it takes time to form new habits. “Becoming less stressed out”, isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s typically a long process because once you’ve reached a point of googling, “how to be less stressed out” you’re probably in it deep. I know, because I’ve been there. You’re so chronically stressed out that when you’re not stressed out you start stressing out because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. And you spend your time before bed thinking about all the things you have to do tomorrow, your schedule, and calculating how many hours you have to sleep if you close your eyes right now.

If this is you, the first step is to take a breath. A deep breath. Right now. I mean it. In through your nose and out through your mouth. I’m going to give you a second to do that before you keep reading. If you don’t do it, I will know.

Okay, good. As silly as it seems, taking a breath is the first step to not being so stressed. Your brain needs oxygen and as intuitive as it seems to breathe throughout the day, often we will forget and our breaths will become shallow. Taking a moment to breathe and do nothing can often give us the restart that we need to refocus. Proper breathing gets oxygen to all of the cells in our body and actually gives us energy. So even if you can’t do anything else in that moment, you can take a moment to breathe.

Despite notoriously simplifying complicated issues, those articles do have one thing right, and that is the tip, “figure out your stressors”. However, what they don’t take into account is that for the most part we are pretty aware of what stresses us out, and what we need are strategies to deal with them, especially if you can’t cut it from your life. But then the question arises, what exactly can I cut from my life and what can’t I? This is something that I’ve been personally working on recently and I have come up with this mantra, that kind of acts like a checklist for the things in my life.

Do I enjoy it?   Is it necessary for my life?   If no to both of these questions, why am I doing it?  

If there is something in your life that you enjoy, even if it’s not necessary per se, keep it in your life! It’s these things, your hobbies, the things and people that make you happy that help reduce the effect of stress that other things may have on your life. Even if you can’t necessarily change a lot of the things that are stressors, you can fill your life and free time with things that make you happy and calm.

More often than not though, there are certain things in your life that stress you out that you can cut. If you take a look at your day to day and can find something that makes you start stress sweating about even when you’re nowhere near it; you may want to take a look at that activity or obligation and ask yourself, would my life be better off without this? Do the pros of having this in my daily life outweigh the cons? If the yes, keep it, if not, ditch it!

Now, that being said, there are some things that we have to do in our day to day lives that we can’t cut out; things like work, homework, etc. The best piece of advice that I can give you for dealing with those things is to develop a clock in/clock out mindset. What I mean by this is, when you go into work, you clock in, you deal with what you need to do and then when you clock out, leave all the stress there. You’re done with work for the day, it would be silly to bring it home. Once you leave, you can focus on the rest of your day and the things you actually enjoy doing. If you can’t physically clock in and out, like with homework or certain “work from home” jobs, assign a place that you can go to get things taken care of, like a coffee shop or the library so then when you leave, you also leave your stress there. If you only do the work there, you can “clock out” when you leave and not bring the stress home with you. Another option is assigning a certain block of time that you can assign to doing a certain task; then for that time you will work, clean, and do whatever you need to do as well as you can, and then once that time is up, you stop.

Stresses in life happen, but you don’t have to let them become your life. You are more than the things that stress you out and you shouldn’t let your job or obligations define who you are as a person and what you’re allowed to feel. You don’t need to wear your stress as a badge of honor, you too, can have a calm, zen life. Everyone has to start somewhere!

Written By One of the Most Chronically Stressed Out People You Will Ever Meet:

 

Chelsea Hoel

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