It’s seems to me that the great American pastime is now stress. It’s the game we all play. None of us like playing it but nonetheless we do. I have heard enough talks about stress and read enough books about stress to know that often I come away having more stress than I started with. The goal of this blog is that you’ll finish with a little bit less stress than you have right now and that you’ll discover a plan to begin to reduce the level of stress that’s in your life.
What is stress? The simplest definition I know is this: stress is the result of carrying too great a load. When the load gets too great, whether it’s on a truck or a foundation or a life, then stress comes into play. When we carry too great a load in our time or with our money or with our relationships or within ourselves the inevitable result is going to be stress.
I’d like to review four of the most common things that cause stress in our lives. As we look at these things, we’ll explore some practical ways that we can begin to reduce stress right now and some ways that we can continue to reduce it in the future.
1. CHECK YOUR SCHEDULE
Stress comes from carrying too great of a load in our lives and many of us have too much in our schedule. Anyone with an overcrowded schedule is going to have too much stress. We all struggle with overcrowding our schedules and too much to do. One of our biggest challenges is that we often begin our days going in too many directions. We all know you can’t aim at two targets at once, but often we start off each day in twenty different directions. So at the end of the day we have this feeling of “How come I couldn’t get anything done?” We have so much to do we don’t experience the feeling of making any progress.
How do we stop? How do we lessen the stress in our schedules?
One idea: don’t add anything to your schedule without subtracting something from your schedule. If it’s already overcrowded and you try to add something else, you create stress. So, don’t add anything to your schedule without intentionally subtracting. Realize you can’t do everything.
Step one check your schedule and decide right now to subtract something. If we’re going to have less stress, you and I are going to have to check our schedules.
2. CHECK YOUR FINANCES
Money comes without instructions. There’s no instruction book attached to a dollar bill. There should be! In many ways money is like a wild stallion. If you let it control you, it’s going to take you on a wild ride for the rest of your life. But if you learn to tame it, you find the strength and the energy that can make a big impact on your life. We should all agree when you take on too much financially it causes great stress. When we don’t have enough financially it causes great stress. When we make irresponsible decisions financially it causes incredible stress.
There are two simple questions that can help us avoid those perils. Instead of asking when you make a purchase, “What am I getting?” ask, “What am I getting into?” Think, “How long am I going to have to work to complete this purchase?”
1. To have less stress you’ve got to reduce your debt. Too much debt causes incredible stress. It keeps you awake at night. Reducing debt is easy to say but it’s tough to do. Two facts about reducing your debt:
a. The truth is; it’s going to take you just about as long to get out of debt as it took you to get into debt. Don’t expect it to happen over night. It’s going to take time but it is doable, so stay with it.
b. You don’t have to do this alone. Get help. If you had a physical problem you’d have no problem going to a doctor asking for help. But when we have a financial problem sometimes we don’t want to talk to anybody about it.
But that is only half the equation. There are some people who have no debt but they’re still very stressed about their money. Holding on to it, making sure it goes here or there, or that people aren’t stealing it, or what’s happening with it.
2. As you reduce your debt, you should try to increase your generosity with others. It is very stressful to hold on to your things so tightly that no one else can benefit from them. You don’t know how stress relieving it is to begin to let go of your things by blessing others.
So to reduce stress I reduce my debt and increase my generosity. The obvious question is which do I need to do first if I need to do both? Do them at the same time. It takes both parts of this equation in to reduce the stress in our lives.
3. CHECK YOUR HEART
You have to check your schedule and your finances but at some point you have to go a little bit deeper and check your heart. There is heaviness that comes with anxiety that’s in our heart. If you overload your schedule again and again and you tell yourself, “I’m never going to do that again,” and yet you do it again, you have to ask yourself why?
There are three attitudes can create an unhealthy heart:
Pride – I can do it all. Why do we keep over-scheduling and over-committing? I think it’s because we really believe we can do it all. All of us can do great things, but we can’t do everything. No one can do everything. It is not healthy to be impressed with yourself. It’s a great stress reliever to admit I may not get everything done on my To Do List today. When you admit that, then you do the most important things first. Pride is one of the hard issues to deal with.
Envy – I can be it all. I can’t be everything everyone else is. I see what someone else is and I want to be that. When I envy others and try to be like someone else, inevitably it’s going to put too much weight and too much stress on my life. It’s the stress of “keeping up with the Kardashians,” the envy. If I want to reduce stress, I’ve got to patch that envy hole in my heart.
Greed – I can have it all. Greed is an attitude that none of us want to admit to but it’s something that surrounds all of our lives and so affects all of us. There is nothing wrong with growing your company. There’s nothing wrong with increasing your income. So, how do you know if it’s greed? One test: Whenever you think about some thing, “ I have to have that to be happy,” that’s when you cross the line over into greed. So, to reduce the stress from anxiety over things, learn to be content. Contentment reduces the stress in our life from anxiety over things.
4. CHECK YOUR WORDS
All of us have experienced the stress that comes into our lives because of words. Our words have a tremendous impact on the focus, peace and productivity of our lives. Check your words before your speak and consider the effect they will produce. Whether your life is flourishing or diminishing may be the result of the words you choose to use to describe what’s going on in your life.
What is the one decision that you and I can make with our mouth that can drastically reduce the anxiety and the stress load in our lives?
When you shut your mouth it drastically reduces the stress. Don’t speak so quickly without thinking. Count to ten. Wait a day. Consider it before you say it. You listen to the other person. You hear what they have to say before you start responding immediately.
Have you noticed that people who are wise don’t talk a lot? That is one of the characteristics of wisdom. So to reduce your stress, considering shutting your mouth. Check your words.
As we consider the four ways to de-stress our lives, we now have a doable plan: check your schedule, check your finances, check your heart and check your words. Now the question is, will you work the plan? Or will you struggle to even get any further than readying this blog? Many times the key for us to accomplish any of our goals in life is to do it with someone else. A life coach can become that friend and confidant that helps guide you to overcome obstacles so that you can achieve your life goals.
If you’re interested in experiencing what it would be like to have a life coach, please consider contacting me for a free sample session to try it out. Contact me by sending an email to set up an appointment for your free sample session right now. I’d love to provide this no strings attached session to acquaint you with this life enhancing professional service.