The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.- William James
Sometimes I feel like I have the weight of the entire world on my shoulders. I imagine the Greek God Atlas, powerful and strong, yet kneeling to keep balance and support the great the celestial sphere. How does he do it? How does he stay grounded knowing he is solely responsible for something so important? I’m sure he gets tired or he wants to quit, but then who would support the world? In any case, that is Greek Mythology and Atlas is a Greek God… but what about me? How am I supposed to handle all of this?
Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in an endless sea so deep that I even if I gave up, I still would not reach the bottom. I feel like I’m constantly struggling to hold my head up above the water… so much water. My arms are tired, I’m exhausted and I desperately need help. But, I look around and all I see is water, endless water. No land, no boat, no help, no hope. What am I supposed to do?
Stress can be difficult, but there are ways to properly manage it. In the past, I would beat myself up when I became stressed or overwhelmed. I would get depressed and would wonder why I wasn’t “strong” enough to deal with my situation. But the truth is that we aren’t born knowing how to handle stress any more than we are born knowing how to balance our checkbook.
What we must remember is that life is all about growth through experience. Everything is a lesson within itself and stress is no different. We have to face it, learn from it and continue to move forward. Over the years I have learned some techniques that have helped me successfully manage stress in my life. There are much more, but I found these to be the most beneficial.
SO, LET’S JUMP RIGHT IN… HERE ARE 10 WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS
1. UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE
Stress doesn’t appear out of thin air. No. It’s always brought on by something… triggered. Either, something happened that reminded us of a negative past experience or we are fearful because we are in a state of overwhelm. When our bodies detect this sense of “danger” it releases stress hormones, which are actually a form of protection.
I talk about this more on the blog, but for now, let’s focus on the triggers. What triggers you? It can be anything from an upcoming bill to the passing of a loved one. It’s different for everyone because we all have different experiences and tolerance levels. To be successful at managing stress, we must understand our personal triggers so we can identify them early and respond accordingly 🙂
2. CLEAN, CLEAR & ORGANIZE
One thing I didn’t realize when I first began my self-love and development journey is the significance of our environment. It’s not that I’ve never heard this idea before, it’s more that I underestimated the magnitude. Whether it’s people in our environment or our physical space, it affects us more than we know on a subconscious level.
With that being said, clutter is NO JOKE. In fact, clutter can cause stress all by itself. Think about it. It overworks our senses, makes us anxious, causes distractions and ultimately prevents us from being able to relax. Take a look at your workspace, automobile, home and your Mind. Are we clear, clean and organized or are we filled with clutter?
3. RELEASE THE NEED TO CONTROL
When we set a goal for ourselves we usually come up with a plan to accomplish that goal. First, we will do this, then that, then we will arrive at the finish line of success. It’s funny because we usually reach our goal, but the road we travel to get there may be different from what we expected. The problem occurs when we worry and stress over every twist and turn along the way.
So, wouldn’t it be easier to focus on our end result instead of how we are going to get there? We have to release the need to control our path. I can almost guarantee that you will encounter some speed bumps, roadblocks or detours on your journey toward success. My advice is to accept this concept and become comfortable with life’s uncertainties instead of working against them.
4. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO
Feeling stuck or helpless in a situation can trigger a significant amount of stress. So, it is important that we do not get sucked into that train of thought. While there may be aspects that are beyond our control, there is always something beneficial that we can do.
For instance, we can always eliminate unhealthy coping mechanisms like excessive drinking or self-isolation. We can also incorporate positivity into our stressful situations by clearing our mind, exercising, eating healthy, etc… So, focus on doing what you can to benefit the situation which will allow the rest to fall into place.
5. CLEAR YOUR MIND DAILY
It’s necessary for us to understand the importance of a healthy mind-body connection. This connection is essential to our mental well-being and can help us manage stress. Now, the question is how to regularly clear our mind to maintain a healthy mind-body connection. While there are a ton of relaxation techniques, I want to focus on a personal favorite, Meditation!
When I say meditation is the bomb.com I am not exaggerating. In fact, meditation is an essential part of my daily routine due to the many positive benefits. Ultimately, it allows us the opportunity to restore our mind to a clear and healthy inner peaceful state. If this idea seems cliché from your perspective, I urge you to research the many health benefits of meditation. Go ahead, google away 🙂 I can almost guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised when you try it for yourself.
6. ELIMINATE THE NONESSENTIALS
My daughter has been obsessed with the film Frozen for about 2 years now. In the movie, one of the main characters sings the song lyrics “let it go, let it go” at the top of her lungs while she mentally and emotionally releases the things that are unnecessary in her life. This image came to my mind because that is exactly what we need to do sometimes. LET IT GO!
We have to take some of the weight off of our shoulders if we want to successfully manage stress. So, examine the baggage you are carrying. Is it essential for your well-being? What is the benefit of holding that weight? You are not Atlas. I am not Atlas. Take the weight of the world off of your back and let that *bleep* go!
7. CHANGE YOUR MENTALITY
Have you heard the expression, I think therefore I am? My hope is that you are aware of this concept and are not defining yourself in a negative way. By thinking or saying out loud, “I am so stressed” you are simply affirming that to be true in your life. Do you understand what that means? It means you’re making stress your normal state.
When I first began to experiment with affirmations, I was on a mission to think myself out of a stressed mentality. I began to replace “I am so stressed out” with “I am blessed and protected and all is well.” I would repeat this affirmation over and over again until it became apart of my reality. It all begins with our thoughts and this is SUPER IMPORTANT!
8. ASK FOR HELP
How many people do you have in your life that love and support you? In all honesty, it doesn’t matter if your social circle is bigger than the Beyhive or consists of only you and your God. The important thing is that you have genuine love and support in your life. Be thankful for that support and don’t be too proud to ask for help. That’s what it’s there for!
What if you don’t? When I was at rock bottom, I felt completely alone. I’m not sure where you are spiritually, but if you do believe that you are connected to a higher being, you have to trust in that connection. I encourage you to call upon that being anytime you need direction, support or even a shoulder to cry on. That connection is always there, no matter where you are and it never fails 🙂
9. GET ACTIVE!
This one is pretty self-explanatory and amazingly effective at the same time. This technique helped me when I decided to leave a past toxic relationship. Ending that relationship was tough and although I knew leaving was a healthy decision, it still triggered a significant amount of stress.
To clear my mind and maintain a mental balance, I decided to download a running app and it worked like a charm. I had a daily fitness goal which allowed me to shift my focus and I felt great after the physical workout. The best part is that physical exercise reduces stress hormones. Try it for yourself!
10. GET SOME HOBBIES
Ok, let’s wrap this up with a fun tip. Get some hobbies! Or get back in touch with the hobbies that you abandoned before the stress took over your well-being. Hobbies are great ways to eliminate stress because they take your mind off the worry and anxiety.
Your hobbies can be whatever you like, but let me make this one suggestion. You should always have 3 hobbies: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape and one to stimulate your creativity. I learned this awhile ago and it has helped me ever since.
DID YOU FIND THESE HELPFUL?
Just like with anything else we talk about here, the decision to change your situation is 100% up to you. I can tell you hundreds of stress techniques or point you toward thousands of books, articles or whatever on the topic. But, the choice to do the work is up to you my friend. So what are you going to do?
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