Okay, so we've all read our fair share of stress tips, engaged in stress relief exercises, sniffed some essential oils, pushed back into downward dog hundreds of times, and breathed many deep breaths. Stress is inevitable. So while we spend much of our time trying to manage stress, why don't we try a different approach?
I hit a wall recently (not literally but mentally) when I just about reached my limit of the world. I couldn't take one more step forward because I was adding too much to my life and no way to manage it all. It's like trying to add more and more books, clothes, and accessories into a small backpack- sooner or later, nothing else will fit if you don't empty it out.
So let's look at stress from the other side of the spectrum. Sometimes the trick isn't adding more to manage stress, but maybe the answer is removing toxic habits or thoughts from our life to manage it all.
Try these five tips, to help lower your stress on a daily basis.
1. Don't say yes to it all.
Okay, might sound counter intuitive but hear me out. Saying "Yes" to everything might not mean a good thing. When we say yes to everything and everyone, our world becomes limited in what we can do. We can't be everything for everyone and every aspect of our life. So the more things you say yes to, the less capacity you have to focus on accomplishing your true passions and high priority goals. Again, we can only carry SO much as one person. (Backpack analogy). So choose wisely and surround yourself with opportunities you WANT to say yes to and not just opportunities you feel like you HAVE TO say yes to.
2. Don't set your expectations too high.
One of the best things I learned in graduate school was to expect nothing but learn everything. I walked into those few years with a blank slate. No expectations, no idea what was in store. Was it extremely stressful? Yes. But it could have been worse had I not entered the journey open minded with little expectation.
What truly helps me to this day, whether it was my wedding, a vacation, a new workout, or a new adventure...whatever you're stepping into that is inhibited by stress, take away the expectation and pressure BEFORE entering the process. You are able to be so much more present when you remove expectations. Not to mention, you'll be surprised at the outcome!
3. Step away from social media.
Big controversy right? Social media is amazing. We get inspired, connect, grow and explore hundreds of pieces of life within a swipe or click to "like". BUT as all things in life, we have to learn to moderate our social media intake.
Influential women like Ariana Huffington and Chelsea Handler say they owe their success to shutting down social media and their phones 30 minutes before bed and not turning them on again until 30 minutes after waking up. We need to allow the mind and body to be...so slow down or vice versa, wake up and see the world as a new day for what it is versus what is on social media the minute you wake up.
4. Think in terms of career/life jungle gym, rather than career/life ladder.
The famous Sheryl Sandberg once said, "A jungle gym scramble is the best description of my career." The days of one event trajectory of your life and career are gone. So while most of us grew up on the idea of one career, one life choice, one place to live, one decision (get the pattern? one ladder....), it doesn't not have to be this way.
Our generation is about diverse journeys, highs and lows, choosing passion over logic, taking steps in different directions vs. just stepping forward, and jumping without even looking down. It's a crazy-out there and not just a simple climb. So break down that image in your head expecting everything to be a perfectly aligned ladder to climb and be ready for some bumps in the road.
5. Get out of your head.
We all wish we could just turn off our negative thoughts and move on with our day. But that is not real life, and if some people can do this, it takes A LOT of years of mindful practice. So the key here is to get out of your head and into real space with real people. You can gradually remove over thinking, over-analyzing, and over complicating situations when you take a step outside your cluttered mind and into the “real world”.
You will only add gasoline to the fire if you keeping adding an overabundance of self talk. Remove internal self talk by taking a few minutes to step out of your mind, and talk with someone in the real world. Sounds so simple, right? But you would be surprised how long we sit and ruminate on negative thoughts before opening our eyes and seeing help in front of us. Whether it's a text, a call or a simple chat next to your co-worker, remove yourself from your mind and move yourself into the now.
Remember, there is no simple algorithm for relief of stress. What works for you one week, might not work the next week. Keep in mind, you are the only one that knows your mind and body; so try new ways of managing life to get yourself out of a funk. Patience and belief of relief is key to reaching a point of namaste...until the next stress wave comes crashing your way.
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