How to...

15 Ways to Stress Less

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I’d love to call this “15 Ways to Never Feel Stress Ever”, but somehow that feels unrealistic.

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Stress is sneaky. Sometimes we don’t realize how stressed we are until we either have a moment that gives us an unexpected reprieve or we hit a stress peak that slaps us across the face.

Though we might not be able to fully avoid this feeling, we can absolutely choose how to handle it.

More importantly, we can mindfully prevent ourselves from fueling it.

At this point in my life, I’m unwilling to live with unnecessary or self-inflicted stress. When our minds run rampant, we can work things up into so much more than they are.

We spend valuable energy worrying about things that may never happen.

We spend our time focused on the worst outcome rather than taking steps to set ourselves up for a good one.

Here are a few ways I’ve learned to keep the stress levels in check:

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1. Focus on the good.

Draw your attention to everything that’s going right just as much as you do to the things you feel are going wrong.

2. Accept what is.

Unexpected things happen that you can’t control. Stop fighting it. Instead of spending time wishing things were different, choose the path of least emotional resistance and start adapting.

3. Be kind to yourself physically.

Always a given. Work in some yoga, eat well, and pamper yourself. Look good, feel good. Take care of the vessel that helps you get around all day.

4. Be kind to yourself mentally.

Recognize when your mind starts to turn against you and shut it down. Interrupt yourself. Replace it with encouragement. Be a friend to yourself, damnit.

5. Get rid of the negative people. Accept the rest for who they are.

Constant complainers. People who judge rather than motivate. The ones who’ve hurt you and keep trying to come back around. You don’t have time for them. These people are everywhere in daily life, but they don’t belong in your personal space, your DMs, or on your couch watching Netflix.

For the people you keep around: realize who they are and prepare for it.  Have a friend that always runs late? Give them an earlier arrival time knowing they’ll be late anyway. Refuse to carpool with them anymore. Do they tend to cancel on plans last minute? Expect them to flake and already have a backup in mind.

Stop acting shocked when someone disappoints you or throws a wrench in your plans if that’s their pattern. Expect them to be who they’ve always proven to be.

BTW, if someone continues to bring you unnecessary stress or hurt: stay away from them. Do you have energy for that? I’m tired just thinking about it.

6. Have a creative release.

Shift your focus into making something. Paint and drink wine. Write a blog and drink whiskey. So many choices. Find the one that works for you.

7. Stop ignoring red flags.

Your “hot mess” radar is probably on point. That deja vu feeling is no joke. Recognize the patterns from your past so you can, hopefully, avoid repeating the same mistakes.

8. Make your home/room a sanctuary.

It’s all about that ambience. Candles. Decor. Scent. An amazing bed. Framed pictures from good times. Keep it a little tidy. Create a retreat so you have a space to decompress.

9. Have one solid person you can talk to.

You may have more, but all you need is one person that you can go to and get things off your chest. You’re looking for an empathetic good listener who keeps it real. Sharing your angst with everyone on Facebook can be counter-productive. If anything, when you bring more people into the knowledge of your stress, they help it grow. They validate it. Keep it low key and share with the select few that will truly help you process and cool down.

10. Know your priorities.

Got a lot to do today? Take care of them from most important to least important. Knock out as many as you can. If you didn’t get to everything, shrug it off. Rest assured knowing that you got the important stuff handled.

11. Bring yourself back to the now.

In stressful moments, pull your thoughts out of all the chaos by focusing on your senses. Look around and notice details. Listen to the noises around you. Touch something in your environment. Breathe. This forces you to be present and aware. Instant increase in coping skills.

12. Stop taking things personally.

A lot of the inconsiderate things people say or do to you have nothing to do with you at all. It’s that other person’s way of processing whatever their own deal is. Don’t internalize it.

13. Change up your scenery.

Don’t let your world get small. A small world makes your problems huge. Go on a trip. Take a hike. Hit up a new coffee shop. Whatever pulls you out of your routine and keeps your perspective on track.

14. Enjoy a little music therapy.

I have several go-to playlists for when I’m trying to get my mind right. Build one for yourself and let the music soothe those nerves. Bonus points if it escalates into a solo dance party.

15. Release expectation.

This is a hard one, but it’s so effective when you can pull it off.

Try hard not to fall in love with the ideal scenario in your mind and be willing to go with the flow.

Just because things didn’t go exactly as you thought they would, doesn’t mean they didn’t go just like they needed to.

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Sort out the nonsense and use your energy wisely.

Your stress should be treated like a rare commodity, because not everything or everyone deserves it.

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