Americans are one of the most stressed out in the world, according to Stress.org
55% of Americans are stressed during the day, and 94% are stressed at work, and 63% are ready to quit their jobs to avoid work-related stress.
But here’s the deal: Life was stressful already- before rampant inflation, the housing meltdown, the stock market retreat, droughts, floods, famines, ongoing supply chain disruptions due to COVID, not to mention the ongoing war in Europe, and the global energy crisis forcing some families to choose between food, fuel, or power.
Stress is an angry 800-lb gorilla that’s knocked us to the ground and won’t get off our chest.
Life is nothing like it was for our grandparents; it’s fast and busy.
These days, both husband and wife must work to make ends meet. In many cases, there’s a single parent at the helm treading water, trying to keep the family afloat. Not to mention side hustles to bring in needed cash. And that’s before you get around to taking care of the house and raising the family.
Life is overwhelmingly busy with day-to-day survival! Gone are the days of clocking out at the end of the workday to enjoy a peaceful, much-needed evening at home, especially with email, instant messaging, and work texts!
But we’re not always our own best friend either because we waste time on social media, silly videos, and mind-numbing entertainment.
The result? Nothing ever gets better. And we’re more stressed than ever.
Will things ever change? No. Not until you reach the point where you’ve had enough.
If you’re ready to stop doing everything and start reducing the overwhelming stress in your life, read on.
1. Pay Attention To Your Day
Time matters because time = life. Every minute you spend doing something is a minute of your life force that you’re paying to do “that” thing.
So make it worth it. Don’t waste your life.
Your day is your life. What are you spending your life on? How do you spend it?
Consider a time log to track where your time goes because you’re paying bits and pieces of your life for whatever it is that you’re doing.
Don’t make it complicated. A simple piece of paper works great, or a cheap notebook. Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes during waking hours, and jot down what you’re doing.
Be honest with yourself. If you’ve been wasting time watching silly videos, write it down. Your time log is for your eyes only. You can even rip it up and throw it away in a few days when you’re finished with it.
Please be honest with yourself so you can take charge of your life to start living it on your terms.
At the end of the day, review how you spend your time. After a few days, you’ll see patterns emerge, some of which you’ll be okay, some you won’t.
2. Cross off the Unnecessary or Meaningless Things
Make this simple. Cross off the things you want to stop doing or want to do less of because they’re just not worth spending your life on.
Perhaps you can delegate some items that need to be done, but you’re not the one who has to do them, at least all the time.
3. Add Value
It feels good to free up time. Now give yourself the gift of adding valuable activities and experiences to your new-found time. Perhaps you’ll have time for exercise, self-care, meditation, or time for your loved ones.
4. Take a Mental Detox
On another sheet of paper or two, list your worries, problems, struggles, and things you feel you “should do” but aren’t giving them your time or attention.
List things you’ve been thinking or wanting to do.
Now, put your list somewhere safe and leave it alone for a while. Take a walk or go for a drive – put some distance between you and all of those things.
Get it ALL out of your mind – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
5. Master List
Come back to the list in a few hours or the next day after sleeping on it for a while; time creates emotional space and objectivity.
You’re going to create a master list in a second but we have a little more pruning before you do. Look at your list and cross off as much as you can. Things that you can’t control or do anything about, release; let them go.
Circle stuff that needs to get done that someone else can start doing for you or at least give you a little help.
Now look at the things you want to do; they might be dreams or goals or projects; prioritize them according to importance; asterisk the ones you want to start now; make a note of the ones you’ll start a little later.
Now, look at your list again. Draw a line down the middle of a new sheet of paper; now draw a line across the page two or three inches from the bottom. In the top, left column, write the things you will do, along with noting the things you will delegate or get help with from now on. In the top, right column, list any remaining worries, concerns, or challenges along with one or two things you’ll do to tackle them to get them under control.
In the bottom left column, list the hopes, dreams, or goals you’re going to begin now – and schedule time in your calendar this week to start doing them. In the bottom right column, list your hopes, dreams or goals you’ll start in a month or two.
By the end of this exercise, which you may work through more than once, if you wish, you’ll have much shorter lists than you started with, and your spirit will feel much lighter.
Why? Because you’re taking control. The process is less about getting clarity and more about taking charge of your life – even if it’s just controlling one or two additional areas of your life.
It can be a somewhat messy, frustrating process at first, but it’s worth it because you’ll start spending your life on things worthy of your heartbeats and breaths.
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