Worry and stress are things we all have to deal with and experience from time to time. Depending on your personality, life, job..etc., you may struggle with worry and stress on a daily basis. Even though stress is a daily part of life, there are ways to create boundaries for your stress instead of allowing it to control you. I often found myself under attack by thoughts that caused me to be anxious and worry constantly. Therefore if this you too, keep reading to find some new perspectives and helpful tips on how to deal with both major and daily stressors in life.
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It’s hard to fight stress when you don’t know the root cause of why you’re stressing. Ultimately, there are an infinite amount of things we stress about both big and small. But sometimes we stress about things that may or may not even happen. Psychology Today defines stress in two ways:
That is a very interesting definition don’t you think? Because most of the time, whatever we’re stressing about certainly seems real to us. However isn’t is true that we stress and worry about things that haven’t even manifested themselves yet? Have you ever caught yourself worrying about something that may happen but hasn’t? Joyce Meyer, a very influential Christian author and Speaker, said “worry is a down payment on a problem you may never have.” I thought that was such a profound statement. Sometimes we get so carried away and consumed by a thought of something that may never happen or we may bring a problem into our lives simply because that is all we think about. Therefore today I challenge you to really think about what you are thinking about. It may sound funny, but sometimes thoughts can be so overwhelming that we really need to break them down and figure out the root of what we’re stressing about. After you break that down, sort out your thoughts and concerns between real and perceived. It may even help to write these things down. Writing is a release in itself. Getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper can really diffuse some of your stress.
Okay, so now that you’ve sorted through your stressors and thoughts, you’ve found the ones that were perceived and the ones that were real. Maybe you have multiple stressors- some are pressing and some are looming. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by an issue or stessor, I sometimes take the time to write down exactly what’s bothering me. Once you do this, you may find that some or all of the things you’ve written down are things you really can’t do anything about. It is natural to be concerned about negative situations or perceived problems, however if your problem is outside of your control, the best thing you can do is leave it be. Focus on things you can control.
Joyce Meyer also describes worry as “a rocking chair—it’s always in motion but it never gets you anywhere.” When we worry, we torment ourselves…,” she says. Isn’t that true? It sounds crazy, but we literally torment ourselves with thoughts. Don’t we have enough problems that arise everyday? Why cause ourselves mental and physical anguish by repeating thoughts in our head about things we cannot control? It took me a long time to truly realize this, but worrying literally gets you no where. It does not solve your problems. It does not even help you think through what to do. It simply causes you inner turmoil and leaves you feeling overwhelmed with the same issues you started with. You don’t have to be a victim to your thoughts. You can choose what you think on. Sure sometimes thought’s just bounce into your head. But you can choose whether or not to repeat them on an endless loop or experience them and move on to something else.
When I feel overwhelmed by my thoughts, I often repeat this prayer to myself and then I apply it to my problem.
The Serenity Prayer:
God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
To me, this prayer says it all. You need to be able to accept the things you cannot change. Today’s stress is enough for today.
Not all stress is bad, and sometimes there are things we can do about the things that are stressing us. If that is the case, I find it helpful to brainstorm a list of things that are practical and feasible for me to do to work toward the solution to my problem. Creating an action plan is very helpful in getting the thoughts in your head sorted out. You’ll also find that you feel more relieved after you’ve made a plan to tackle some things you’ve been wrestling with.
Today being busy is something that is praised. Even being worried and stressed is something people find to be responsible. If you are a person that chooses not to worry or focus on negative thoughts, you may find that people look at you differently. Sometimes people may perceive you as careless, irresponsible or even lazy. I’m sure you’ve had conversations at work where coworkers harp about not getting any sleep or working constantly and never having time to get anything done. In reality, this is something people do to demonstrate their level of busyness and to express how much they’re needed. It’s as if not having time for yourself is considered a badge of honor in our society. What’s ironic is that worry and stress actually cloud your judgment and impede your ability to problem solve and work efficiently.
Therefore speaking to this point, one major contributor to high stress is not taking proper time for ourselves. As stated above, this is something people may look down on you for, but never feel guilty about taking time for yourself. If you are empty, you have nothing to give to your family, your job or to the world.
Whether it’s taking a walk outside, getting a message, or just going somewhere quiet and listening to your favorite music, the time you devote to yourself is important and truly helps to create boundaries for your stress. Take the time to do something you truly enjoy without any distractions. Find time to do this on a regular basis, not just when you feel so overwhelmed you cannot think. Treat yourself to some quality me-time every week. Trust me it is worth it.
Finding practical ways to relax on a daily basis is essential to creating boundaries for your stress.
You may not be a person who likes to sit and meditate for an hour. That’s fine. Although it is important to have some quiet time to yourself on a regular basis to allow your mind to relax. One really easy way to start doing this is to use apps like Headspace. Headspace is a really awesome app for an introduction to meditation. You can do it during a lunch break, in your room or anywhere for that matter. Just put your earplugs in and listen to the guide’s calm voice lead your thoughts into peaceful place. This app has tracks you can listen to for just a few minutes or for longer. Activities like this are a really easy way to relax that you can incorporate into your daily routine without taking too much time out of your schedule.
Aromatherapy is a really nice way to calm your mind and relax your body. There’s nothing like surrounding yourself with a scent that you love. Go to Bath and Body Works and pick out a candle that smells amazing to you and burn it in your room or your living room. Body oils are also a really nice way to incorporate aromatherapy and to soothe the physical effects of stress on your body. Oftentimes, our bodies get so tense from stress and we do not even realize it. Therefore massaging an oil into your muscles can really help to ease the tension you may have in your body as a result of stress. Too much of the wrong kind of stress will have effects on your body. Therefore take the time to eat a good meal that gives you energy and do things that allow your body to relax.
If you’re looking for a resource to help with daily stressors both big and small, I would really recommend the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. This book is a wonderful resource for dealing with daily stressors that usually drive us crazy. It’s extremely easy to read and digest and includes some very helpful, substantive tips on how to deal with stress. The chapters are only a few pages and it’s the type of book you don’t have to focus on finishing right away. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can just pick it up, read a few chapters and then set it down. Trust me, you will get a lot out of just one chapter, although you won’t want to put it down. I bought this book from Barnes and Noble, but you can also get it from Amazon here.
I mentioned Joyce Meyer earlier in this article and I would really recommend watching some of her podcasts and shows. She speaks a lot about fighting worry and stress and being able to enjoy your life to the fullest on a daily basis. She has truly helped me to lessen how much I worry and to enjoy life more. I downloaded her podcasts for free through the Podbean app. She also has an amazing book called “Living Beyond Your Feelings” which is a great resource for those feeling overwhelmed by their thoughts and emotions.
I hope this post has given you a few tips you can see yourself incorporating into your daily or weekly routine. In all, it is important not to neglect yourself- both in your thoughts and in things you can do daily to lessen the role of stress in your life.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my article on How to Enjoy Being Single!