Simplify Your Life to De-Stress
Stress is a big problem for a lot of us, a lot of the time. There are many things to stress out about including work, home, social obligations and unhealthy habits to name just a few of them. A reasonable amount of stress in your life is understandable, but it’s when stress takes over, and seems to hover on top of everything, that it becomes a real problem. When this happens, it’s important to make a real effort to relieve some of the tension weighing you down.
First, it’s important to slow down, stop multi-tasking, and start taking your obligations one thing at a time. Put all your focus and willpower into single-tasking at work. If you’re at work, get all the clutter off your desk and off your computer screen, choose the highest priority task you have, and get started working on it.
Don’t stop until it is finished. Ignore or temporarily remove all those digital distractions that we love so much (email, cell phone, Facebook, Twitter) and focus on nothing but your task for the whole time you’re working on it. Focus can be tough, especially since a lot of bosses and a lot of technologies we use seem to encourage ADD-multitasking. Resist the urge, and handle one priority at a time.
Next, do your best to minimize your obligations. Under careful scrutiny, most things just aren’t the emergency they pretend to be. I’ve worked in customer service before, and everyone wants the best piece of you because everyone thinks that their problem is an end-of-the-world scenario. Oddly enough, it was usually the people who have a real, serious problem who are the most humble in looking for help. Keep this in mind- real problems don’t scream, because they don’t have to. Tiny problems and concerns and mini-crises yell their heads off. Learn to ignore those cries, and focus on what really needs to be done.
In the process of eliminating all the minor obligations that don’t really matter, you’ll probably inadvertently simplify your schedule exponentially. When you remove everything but the essential work, you generally find that there aren’t that many essential things left to focus on. By working on, and attempting to complete only a few essential tasks each day, you should find a lot more leisure time to enjoy, while still working more productively on what really matters.
With all the free time and focus you’ll have, it’s a good idea to slip in some positive new habits you’ve been meaning to adopt. Regular exercise is a good to adopt if you haven’t been, as is healthy eating. Taking care of yourself frees up the energy you’ve been spending being unhealthy, and eliminates a lot of the guilt people feel when they don’t think they’re taking care of themselves properly.
Try to not overload your plate with too many goals and new habits all at once. A good plan is to try to incorporate one new good habit a month. Take thirty days to test it out and see if it’s something you want to fully incorporate into your daily existence. Most people can do anything for just thirty days, making the habit that much easier to incorporate. And because you’re only trying to change one thing at a time, you’re much less likely to feel overwhelmed, and you’re much more likely to stick with it when the month is done.
A good goal to add to your life is to take some time and dedicate it to doing something that you find relaxing every single day. This is different for everyone. Some people like to take long candle-lit baths and just sink into the warmth. Other people might find it really relaxing to intensely exercise every day. Others still might want to just take a twenty minute walk to unwind after work. Whatever it is for you, make it a daily habit. Like I said earlier, no one is going to be able to eliminate all the stress from their life, but developing a relaxing habit is a great way to mitigate what will inevitably be left.
One aspect of our lives that often causes stress and concern are our personal finances. On top of the stress involved in never feeling like we have enough, we often feel guilty about not doing or knowing enough about this area of our life, and ultimately end up doing nothing. This really isn’t a good habit to get into, but it’s one most people practice by default. There are plenty of ways to take control of your finances in an easy and relaxed manner, but the easiest seems to be automating everything.
Automate your accounts to pay your bills on time. Automate your accounts to dump a certain amount of your paycheck into savings. From there you can have your savings account split up the pie and put different percents of your savings into different buckets- for instance, one for retirement, one for your wedding, one for travel. This way, you can rest easy knowing that the big picture is being taken care of, instead of getting lost and anxious trying to work your way through the forest of minutia.
When saving, it’s a good idea to dedicate a certain amount of your income purely for fun. Having fun is one of the most important things you can do to relax and distress your life. It might sound a little silly, being disciplined about making sure you have fun, but if that’s what it takes then be sure to pencil it in. Much like de-stressing, everyone has a different idea of what’s fun.
Whatever you enjoy doing; do it for the sake of your sanity and for everyone around you. If you can’t spare the funds, then don’t worry about it, just find something fun and free. Most cities have a lot of free activities going on all the time, and barring that, just make your own fun. If you were able to invent fun as a child, you should be able to invent fun as a fully grown adult.
For me, doing creative work is both de-stressing and a lot of fun. I find that I can sink away easily when being creative, and I know I’m not the only one. There are a lot of theories why being creative is such a great way to relax yourself away from the day’s stresses, but everyone from neuroscience to spiritual leaders seem to agree that being creative is a fundamental way to relax.
Being creative is an integral part of being human, and if you aren’t being creative in any way you aren’t fully embodying your humanity. That doesn’t mean you need to paint murals four hours a day, just do something that stirs and challenges you positively.