Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

reduce news consumptionPerhaps that should be the motto of anyone trying to reduce their stress.  Because, really, stress is all relative–it is largely a matter of perception–what may stress one person out may be but a mild inconvenience to another.  Our response to events, situations, and thoughts is really what matters when it comes to having a stress response.

With that in mind, today we’ll look at some ways to reduce stress.

Ideally, we’d avoid the stressor or eliminate it altogether. But the next best option is to change your response to the stressful situation.

There are 4 ways to change the stress triggers in your life:

  1. Change your behavior
  2. Change your thinking
  3. Change your lifestyle choices
  4. Change the situation

Let’s look at some examples of how we might reduce stress from any of these 4 approaches.

  • Turn off the news. The news is full of negativity around issues you can’t do anything about. Turn it off to take that stress out of your life.
  • Get up earlier and/or prepare everything for your morning routine the night before (clothes, lunch, breakfast, keys).
  • Stop procrastinating. Being late for deadlines can cause worry and stress.  Plan ahead. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
  • Plan ahead: have enough gas, keep stocked up on essentials, know what you’re going to cook ahead of time.
  • Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Running late can cause stress, anxiety, and worry.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is critical to managing thinking, attitude, and mood, which impacts how we respond to stress triggers.
  • organizing reduces stressOrganize: keep keys, account numbers, bills, and everything properly organized so you know where to find them and can do so in a timely fashion.
  • Make lists.  This can help you to remember what you need to get done and what you need to get from the grocery store so you’re not stressing over what you forgot.
  • Visualize success. Before any event you feel nervous about, imagine how great you will look and how well you’ll present yourself.
  • Avoid situations that don’t jive with you. For example if you don’t like politics, avoid people always inclined to talk politics.
  • Manage your expectations.
  • Express gratitude. This can help change your thinking and your reactions to stress triggers, by helping you see the big picture and realize everything you have to be grateful for.
  • Say “No!” Stop over committing. You don’t need to do every project, social activity, and charity event that comes your way. People will respect you more when you know how to manage your time.
  • Take more time  between tasks to relax. Like the previous item, schedule a realistic day, which allows you to not feel rushed.
  • Turn off your cell phone, laptop, and other electronic device. Every beep, buzz, and vibration is a mini stress event for your mind and body.  Allow yourself some off time.
  • Look good to make yourself feel better and more confident.  Give your hair, makeup, and clothes a glance over so you’re not worrying about something being out of place.
  • Be flexible. Somethings are not worth perfection.
  • Do one thing at a time. When you are working on one thing, don’t think about everything else you have to do. Cultivate mindfulness and focus.
  • Do unpleasant tasks early and enjoy the rest of the day. This also helps to make best use of willpower and decision-making power.

See if you can begin to very slowly, one-by-one, choose one of the above bullet points and begin to work that into your life.  Stick to only 1 or 2 ideas until they becomes habits and normal behaviors in your life that get done without concerted effort.  Then, move on to another one or 2.  Eventually you can reduce or eliminate many of the needless stress triggers in your life, or at least realize they aren’t something worthy of so much stress and worry.

As you’re thinking about changing things in your life that can lead to stress, also consider our stress relief package: on-the-go Balance spray of herbs and nutrients for anytime you feel stress coming on, and Belight Tea for bringing quiet meditative moments into your life. A powerful one-two combo.


Photos from Flickr: ed100 & Becky Wetherington