5 Steps to Controlling the Stress in Your Life

Feeling overwhelmed? Dread your to-do list? Have anxiety?  Can’t get your mind wrapped around everything you have to do?  Feel like you just can’t get ahead.  And it’s piling on top of everything else.  And you just can’t manage to actually feel “right”.  Maybe you’re starting to feel physically sick?  Headaches, tired all the time, can’t seem to think straight?   Yeah, we’ve all been there and stress sucks! It’s seriously no joke.  Stress can cause serious health problems.  It can cause problems for your family, with your work life, and cause problems for just about anything, if stress is not maintained.   And for some of us, stress is at an all-time high that it might seem impossible to maintain.  But today, I am going to share with you that maintaining stress is absolutely possible. 

Taking Control

  How is it possible to take control of your stress?

First you want to understand and accept that  you cannot control everything.  You especially cannot control what other people do, say, think, and hear-or at least what they think they hear.  Once you have a better understanding and can accept this it will make your life simpler and less stressful.  It would be easier to control what people do, think, and hear, but life isn’t that simple and certainly doesn’t work that way.    But Angela, if I am not in control, I go CRAZY.  Trust me, I completely understand.  But here’s the thing, you are in control.  You control your thoughts, your actions, your activities, your emotions, and a lot of other things.  You can control all of that. The things you can’t control, like the weather… SERIOUSLY let it go!!!  You will thank me later.  

Now that we have talked about all these things you can’t control, let’s talk about the things you can control. 

Like your to-do list.  Yes, you control that.  If you seriously have a to-do list that will just not end you need to get really honest with yourself and start asking yourself, “is this a must?” If it’s not a must than put it off or find a different time to schedule it.  Only do the things are the most important throughout the day.  You don’t need to worry about crap that seriously doesn’t matter.  Or things that can’t be put off.  And another hint.  When you are finished with your list don’t do more work.  Enjoy the fact that everything on your list is done and do nothing!  Yes, that’s right!  Do nothing!  Or do whatever you want.  Like read or watch TV!  That’s okay.  Live up the moment.  Because the work will still be there!  So live for now. 

Now that we talked about some things we can and can’t control, I want to move on to some things that will really help you understand yourself and how you handle stress.

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Personality Helps

Knowing your personality style can change the game in your life and the way you handle stress.  How? Well part of your personality is knowing if you’re extravert or introvert.  And you’re probably thinking what on earth does this have to do anything?  First these personality styles are interpreted as whether or not you’re outgoing, or shy or you like to be the center of attention or more reserved.  Although these are accurate, to the definition, this is not necessarily what they mean.    Second Being an extravert or introvert is what gives you energy, what helps you recharge.  Most extraverts get this from being around other people, talking on the phone, or just interacting with others.  Whereas, introverts recharge their batteries being alone.  So, for introverts, maybe working and interacting with people on a regular basis can be exhausting it’s good to know that all you need is 5 to 10 minutes of alone quiet time.  If you are stressed out this is especially useful. 

If you don’t know your personality style you can Google MBTI study and some of the online options provide your results for free.  And if you’re interested in more information check out the infographic here!  This is super-duper useful info explaining the MBTI personality types.

Let’s get on with more tips and stress busters.

Getting Physical

Another stress buster physical activity.   Just think about it… all that negative stressful energy that you have built up is easily released within 30 minutes.  For example, I love to run. It started a while ago, but there are days where something happens, or like an argument, something went wrong with my laptop, etc.  I think I just want to go running! And I’ll come back to this crap later! As soon as I start hitting the pavement I can feel the negativity leave my mind and my body.  And when I am done running, although I feel like I’m dying, I am extremely calm and stress free. And I can focus again!  I completely understand running is not for everyone.  But the gym can provide the same results (this is also one of my stress burners).  Bicycling, dodge ball, volleyball, swimming, yoga, any physical activity that you can focus on will help relieve that stress.  The fact that it has other health benefits is a plus.  Plus, the truth is, if you can’t afford therapy this is great second choice!! Because it’s the only place and time where you can think about whatever you want without judgment until you can let it go.  Or not think at all and only focus on the physical activity at hand.

Diggin’ the Brain

Let’s talk about some options that are a little less physically involved. 

One of them is  meditation, which is a method focusing concentration away from thoughts and feelings and generating a sense of relaxation. This is usually done sitting down and taking deep breaths. Even calming music can help. There are even classes and or coaches that help with this.  A little confession: I haven’t quite figured out the meditation part.  I am working on it. So if I get more advanced on meditation stay on the lookout for cool stuff for that! 😊 

Another method that is considered just as calming as meditation is coloring.  Which I can say really works.  It seems to calm all the thoughts in my head.   Plus it’s fun!  Nothing like getting to color as if you’re a kid again! And if you have children-color with them.  Most children will color with you!  I would do this with the children I used to nanny.  Not for stress relief more because I like to color.  But the kids can get involved and that way you can do 2 things at once!  It saves you time, it entertains the kiddos, and you’re becoming stress free.  Seriously I don’t think it gets better than that!

Another suggestion is journaling.  You can write every day, once a month!  Whatever.  You don’t have write about topics-- okay this isn’t school.   No one is reading or grading it.  So write what you want or what you feel.  Plus this helps you organize your thoughts, helps you get all those angry words out in the open.  It really does make you feel better.  I have kept a journal since I was 12 or something!  But journaling can be a great way to relieve stress and handle your emotions and thoughts.   You should give it a try. And if you want more on journaling check out this read here.

Letting your Hair Down!

Another suggestion, this is especially for extraverts-doesn’t mean introverts can’t get into this! 

But first, ladies, there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your hair down and enjoying yourself.  Especially if you have children!  You need “ME” time!  It benefits your family too!  So don’t feel guilty! So go have dinner with friends with a  few drinks or just dinner-whatever!  Get that social time in with your friends.  You can also talk on the phone with your friends and or family.  This is what physiologists call social support.  You need to be able to discuss and talk out whatever is bothering you.  Whether it’s your boss, partner, husband, kids, school, whatever it may be, you really do need to talk it out.  This helps you think things through and eliminate options or even think of things you didn’t think of before. Trust me it’s really helpful!  If you need social support make sure you’re reaching out to your close group or your besties.  Not only will help it with stress but it’s fun and you get to catch up.

Tying it Together

So, Angela tell me what this has to do with finding freedom…. Okay, okay.  I can tell you.  Because having control over your stress will help you sleep, it helps you be more productive, your health is better, you’re happier, and you think clearer.  Which leads to wiser decisions. Which just leads to a better life in general.  Oh! Plus!  Your home life will improve.   Who wants to come home to someone that is stressed out 24/7 and refuses to try to take control over it?  Who wants to have problems sleeping? Seriously?  If you can control your stress you are putting yourself in a position to have a free and peaceful life.

Take Action

Now, it’s your turn! Pick one of these today and start implementing it in your life.  Whether it’s writing in a journal, meditating, engaging in a physical activity.  Pick something and do it consistently and notice how your stress levels are changing.  Even if it’s just deciding to stop controlling everyone and everything.  Watch how you sleep better and even feel better.  Do it today!  And share your progress.  And use the #asfreeasyousee.  I would love to hear how these tips are helping your life. 

The Reference used today Lahey, Benjamin B. Psychology: An Introduction, 10th edition. McGraw-Hill, 2009. ISBN 9780073531984