An awful lot of the pressure in my life comes from me. I’m probably not alone in that. We face enough genuine stress in life without putting more on ourselves, but that’s exactly what many of us do, in one way or another.
I get annoyed with myself if I miss a workout, go over my calorie goals, make a mistake at work. I take these small things and build them into massive issues that can ruin my day- sound familiar?
The first step toward easing off of yourself is to identify when you might be making things harder on yourself unnecessarily. Recently I’ve been making more of an effort to identify when I’m stressing about something I really don’t need to stress about and change that.
Here are some ways I’ve found helpful for cutting down on unnecessary stress.
Understand The Difference Between High Achievement and Perfectionism
When it comes to stress, “do your best” is better than “be perfect,” and in the long run, it’s healthier as well.
If you find yourself constantly going over mistakes you’ve made, noticing more of what you’ve done wrong than what you’ve done right, and getting anxious when you do a good-but-not-perfect job you may want to review how you view your own expectations of yourself.
Draw A Line Between Leading A ‘Full’ Life And An Overwhelming Life – Learn to Say No
Leading a full life is great (YOLO and all that) but if you don’t live a balanced life too, you can feel too stressed, too often.
Be aware of how you feel at the end of the day or weekend – if you’re constantly knackered maybe you need to let some things go or say no to some invites to allow yourself some time to relax. Exhausted people lose momentum eventually no matter how many exciting things they’ve done or got planned.
Manage your commitments in all aspects of life to help manage the pressure you put upon yourself. If something needs to take longer then it needs to take longer, if it really really can’t then something else needs to give sometimes.
Think Like An Optimistic Realist Rather Than A Pessimist
Realistic positive thinking (focusing on the positive without completely ignoring and failing to address issues that require a response) can help you to be more effective in your life, and less stressed along the way, research has shown.
One of the best positive thinking strategies you can adopt is optimistic thinking, which is a specific pattern of thinking that allows you to focus your attention on your accomplishments which allows you increase your confidence to do your best in the future.
That doesn’t mean not dealing with problems – just not focusing on them over the positives all of the time.
Allow Yourself To Feel Then Take Action
An effective way to help yourself through stressful times is to become more aware of how you feel and why (perhaps by journaling, talking things out with a close friend, or even talking to a therapist if necessary, sometimes it means just having a really good moan) and then once you’ve acknowledged those emotions instead of trying to fix them there and then decide to undertake one or two small activities that will bring something positive to your day. The activities can be completely unrelated, it’s more the act of just doing something positive and feel good that matters here.
In other words – acknowledge what is getting you down then focus on what you can do that day that is positive (it could be a tiny action) rather than trying to fix your entire mood in one go. It won’t fix things but can just improve how you feel a little bit.
Accept Your Weaknesses, And Those Of Everyone Else
Give yourself a break. You can also relieve stress by giving everyone else a break as well, don’t take things as personally, don’t hold onto grudges, and try to see the best in people by understanding how things may feel from their perspective.
I wrote recently about the fact you can’t be positive all of the time. In the same way you can’t avoid all stress, these things are just part of life. You can be proactive in managing your reactions to these stresses, which goes a little way towards making you feel good about things.