Have you been feeling stressed recently?
Maybe that’s a trick question, and like much of the world, you’re always feeling more stressed than you would like – to one degree or another.
One weird and unfortunate finding of many different polls and studies is that even as technology increases and we all enjoy more material luxuries than ever in human history, people consistently report that they feel more stressed with each passing year.
Stress is a natural occurrence over short durations. But chronic stress can have some seriously negative effects on your health and sense of well-being.
Here are a few perspective shifts you can incorporate into your life to help bust some of that stress.
Let go of the need to try and micromanage and control everything
One side-effect of technology such as the Internet is that we are now totally inundated with information and different tools and avenues for trying to micromanage our own lives from every conceivable angle.
It might be, for example, if you are in the process of househunting or selling a home and feel that you need to have a direct hand in the entire process rather than simply deciding to find a good realtor and let them handle the process for you.
Often, micromanaging everything – or at least trying to – is a fast track to a life of unnecessary stress and anxiety. At some point, everyone just reaches their limit and has to take a step back.
Take a moment to reflect on which areas of your life might not actually need your direct guiding hand – and practice the art of “letting go” when appropriate.
Stop trying to always be as “productive” as possible
The idea of “productivity” has long since spilt over from our professional lives and is now something that we all tend to try and apply across the board, regardless of all other factors.
The writer Celeste Headlee notes that the rise in chronic stress might have as much to do with our perceived need to “structure” our free time in order to make it “productive” as it does with anything else.
Think about it – do you feel guilty when you sleep on the weekend, watch TV for a few hours, or read a novel? Surely you could use that time to “hustle,” learn a language, or do some exercise, right?
Ultimately, we all need balance. While it’s good to achieve things, it’s just as necessary to allow for unstructured and unproductive time so that you can rest and recharge your batteries and actually enjoy the small pleasures of everyday life.
Simply letting go of the inner need to be – or feel – “productive” all the time can really help to defeat excess stress.
Focus less on goals and more on your regular habits and routines
According to the Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, “goals are for losers,” and everyone should be focusing on “systems” instead.
The basic idea Adams is getting at is that when we set ourselves goals, we put ourselves in the mindset of always chasing after things that we don’t have – and then circumstances often thwart our goals anyway and make us even more stressed and unhappy in the process.
“Systems” or “habits,” however, are different. By focusing on having some good regular routines and rituals in place, you can increase the odds of good things happening in your life without constantly taking yourself out of the present moment and putting yourself into a mindset of lack and anxiety.