Eliminating Stress

 

Stress stinks. It’s crippling, consuming and deteriorating – not to mention a possible underlying culprit of depression, anxiety and countless other conditions. 

 

Do you know what’s causing your stress? Sure, there’s work and the kids and finances and so forth, but, ultimately, stress is the result of a real or perceived lack of control over one’s situation.

 

Change the lack of control, and you can make incredible changes to your stress levels and, more than likely, your depression and anxiety.

 

No, it’s not easy. While we can’t completely eliminate all the stressors in our lives, doing something about the things we can change will dramatically improve our quality of life.

Here are some steps you can take to begin that process:

 

Keep a list. One of the best lessons I ever learned was from a former supervisor at the first gym I worked at. He always – and I mean always – had a pen and slip of paper in his pocket. Seriously, we could be out at a bar after work and there’s his paper and pen, taking down a note of something he needed (or wanted) to do.

 

When we keep accurate lists of the things on our plate, we relieve ourselves of multiple stressors, including ruminating thoughts and the consequences of forgetting something. I personally keep two lists – a running list on my phone that I can easily prioritize, and a daily task list attached to my planner that allows me to see what needs to be done and when. Writing it multiple times also has been shown to ingrain it further into our brains, so we are more likely to complete these tasks.

 

Master your schedule. Do you know when you’ll actually execute those things on your list? We often shy away from rigidity and routine, but having a firm grip on your time and how you’ll spend it will reduce your stress dramatically – exponentially, if it can be measured in such a way.

 

You may not be able to change the fact that you have a huge report due, but the gripping anxiety of “OHMYGOODNESSIHAVETOGETTHISDONE” fades when you know exactly when you’ll be able to do it. When your time is planned and prioritized, even the surprise reports become less stressful because you know exactly what needs to be re-arranged.

 

Planning ahead also gives you freedom from having to make decisions; things like choosing what to eat or when to exercise and so forth tax our ability to make other choices. There is not a successful person on this planet who does not have a firm control over their time and what they do with it.

 

Say no. How would you feel about getting into an over-crowded life boat, or one full of holes? Sure, it’s better than drowning, but what if instead you could have gotten on the next life boat and arrived safely at your destination, rather than sinking?

 

The urge to help is noble one, but it’s crucial we don’t put someone into a worse situation by extending the offer to assist. Recognizing when to say no (which, really, is more often than not) enables you to be healthy while protecting those in need.

 

Take rest. I’ve been challenging myself for a long time to take a Sabbath rest, breaking from the to do list and the schedule and the helping and all the things that land on my plate. I’m not so great at actually implementing it, but this weekend I really dug in and rested. I’m still exhausted – chronic fatigue and stress doesn’t go away over a Warriors game and family dinner – but it aligned my focus for the week and helped me to keep to the other things (above) that I’ve found to be critical to reducing my stress.

 

Did you know that the right kind of exercise and food will enable you to handle stress better? I pride myself on helping my clients take control of their whole lives - at 5:17, it's about much more than just weight loss. If you're ready to release yourself from the crippling grips of stress, and improve every aspect of your life, get in touch today!



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