If you read magazines, look at the internet, or watch television you’ll see a lot about living a stress free life. Because it’s really possible to have absolutely no stress, right? Your car will never need work. Your boss will never be a pain in the tail. Your husband, kids, and others will never ever cause you to plan to run away and never come back. Stress free living hasn’t been invented yet.
But there are tips for living a less stressful life and even a little less stress will help you be happier, healthier, and more fun to be around. Here are my tips for less stress.
- Stop caring about what other people think. I don’t mean to stop seeking advice or not allowing anyone to express an opinion. Just stop caring if their views and yours are different. You don’t have to live your life meeting anyone else’s expectations. Your happiness should never depend on what others think. I gained a huge amount of weight after my injury. Overnight inactivity combined with medications that have either weight gain or increased appetite as side effects really took a toll. And suddenly not being able to do all the physical things I’d always done was depressing. I couldn’t
- Start with the little things. If you want to have less stress don’t try to make big changes overnight. Pick something that really bugs you and then change the circumstances that cause you to feel that way. If your husband leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor and it drives you crazy start with reminding him to put the towels where they belong. Maybe it’s a habit you have that you want to change. Just pick things that you can change and stick to the change without uprooting your life.
- Stop living in the past. There are things we’d all love to go back and do differently but, until time travel is possible, we’re stuck with the decisions we made in the past. Even if the things you did then still have an impact on your life now, stop living in the past. Go forward with the situation and make it better. Think of ways you can improve on your circumstances as they are and leave the past things behind.
- Stop living in the future. A big source of stress for many people is worrying about what may I’m not talking about things like maintaining the car to prevent problems you could have avoided. These are things that none of us can accurately predict nor prevent, yet some folks just can’t stop obsessing about them. The future is unforeseeable. The Bible tells us that today has trouble enough of its own and we should not worry about tomorrow.
- Give up your grudges. The person who suffers from a grudge is the person holding it. Since a person who caused you to be angry didn’t care about your feelings then you should realize that person isn’t being hurt by your anger now. Being angry and holding a grudge gives that person power over your life long after the initial incident. Let it go. Be happy with your life. It’s the best revenge anyway.
- Move on from the people who bring you nothing but stress. This one is easier said than done but there are some people, even people we love, who bring us nothing but stress and grief. Keeping them in your life will not improve their lives nor will it improve yours. And it’s possible; by letting them go for now, you’ll both reduce your stress enough to be able to get back together, relaxed and reasonable enough to work things out.
- Be grateful for what you do have rather than concentrating on what you don’t. I’m not suggesting that you don’t dream or plan or save for things you want. But by focusing on what you don’t have you’re missing the joys of what you do have. A personal story here; I was the baby of a family with lots of money. We got whatever we needed and most of what we wanted. I spent at least a month of every school year on vacation in Florida. Daddy used to come home and hand Mama, my sister, and me each a $100 bill and tell us to take ourselves out to dinner and a movie. This was in the 70’s so believe me, we had change! I married a guy who also made great money. I never had to think about whether I could afford something. My kids also had everything they needed and wanted. Now, in what should be our golden years, we’re definitely not rich. My spinal cord injury was expensive and I’m still on medications that are outrageously expensive. My husband’s cancer cost us nearly everything. But I still have my husband. I still have my home. We have family and some incredible friends. We have the dogs, my garden, and the wildlife that lives on our property. I can still bake and cook. And most importantly, we still laugh every day! Sure, it would be nice to be able to go out to dinner or see a movie but my life is so rich in spite of the lack of cash that those things aren’t a big deal. Pay attention to your life. There’s so much more than you realize in it than what isn’t.
- Don’t take on everyone’s problems. It’s important to help others but you can’t be the solution to every problem for every person. Do what you can and be satisfied with it. Worrying about your own problems and everyone else’s is a sure path to stress you can’t handle.
- Live you own life. Just as it’s important not to let the opinions of others stress you out it’s also important to live, really live, your life. Don’t let jealousy of what others have or do steal the joy you can get from living. Dance, sing, enjoy nature, and do everything else you’re able that makes you happy. Don’t worry about how others may perceive you. Don’t stress about having perfect makeup and hair or the most in-fashion clothes. If you feel like chasing butterflies on the front lawn, do it! Who cares what the neighbors think if it makes you happy?
- Stop complaining. Most of the things we complain about can’t be changed and some people complain for the sake of complaining. Try being thankful for things that make you happy instead of complaining about things that don’t. It doesn’t matter if someone got a promotion you think you deserved or if the neighbors just got new furniture while yours is falling apart. Complaining won’t change things and it may drive away the people who actually make you happy.