- Jonathan Lockwood Huie
As you need food to live, you also need a certain amount of emotional stimulation, but unless you choose to live alone far from the reaches of civilization, you are bombarded daily with innumerable stressors (agents, conditions, or other stimuli that cause stress). You hear the daily woes of friends and family. Your job and your daily commute are filled with agitation. Just a few minutes of the 11 o'clock news provides far more than your daily requirement of emotional stimulation.
What to do?
1. Simplify your needs: Much of our stress is due to what we believe we need to have. Actually, we need very little - food, a roof over our head, companionship. The rest is all perceived need that causes stress. As a crazy, but everyday example, we get stressed that we don't have the money to finance a relaxing vacation trip. Suppose we just relaxed every day knowing that we don't need luxuries.
2. Simplify your obligations: Practice saying "NO." No, I won't babysit your parakeet. No, I won't work a double shift Sunday. No, I won't chair the fundraising drive. There is actually almost nothing that you must do. Everything in life is a choice. Break the habit of assuming that you need to do everything you are asked to do.
3. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen: Usually the worst isn't really so bad. For example, the worst your boss can ever do is to fire you, and if you hate your job, that would be a blessing in disguise.
4. Don't be demanding: You ask someone to do something, they don't do it, and you get upset - raising your stress level. Suppose you asked less of other people? Your stress level would go way down. For example, you want your teenagers to keep their rooms tidy. For them, a structured living space is not a priority. Ask yourself whether exerting your control is worth the high stress level that it causes you.
5. Mentally, prepare for failures: Your boss WILL be critical of your work. Your cell phone and computer WILL fail. The stock market WILL drop. There WILL be another terrorist attack or war. It is just life. If you are mentally prepared, you won't be surprised or get stressed when the inevitable happens.
6. Mind your own business: Many of us get upset - and stressed - over the actions of others that are really none of our business. The lifestyle of others is NOT our business. Whether your adult son or daughter has a job, whether they married the "wrong" partner, whether your neighbor recycles, whether the man down the street watches adult movies or his wife is having an affair - these are NOT our business. Know that there is no single way that life is "supposed" to be. Demanding that life meet our expectations is a sure fire recipe for a miserable existence. Life is a game with no rules. Have NO Expectations of life. Stay in your own business and lower your stress.
7. Be grateful for what you have: Each of us has been infinitely blessed - beginning with the gift of life. Whatever may appear to be missing or broken on any particular day, our glass is not half full, it is 99.9% full. More practically, when we feel ungrateful, we become unhappy and stressed. When we choose to feel and express our gratitude, the act of feeling and speaking our thanks creates a happiness within us. The more we express our gratitude, the more we have for which to be grateful.
8. Make YOU your top priority: Your ONLY responsibility in life is to your own happiness. Lower your stress and raise your joy by focusing on yourself. Today and every day, take time to celebrate your life - whether an hour's meditation in a quiet natural space, or a brief moment's conscious pause to breathe deeply and celebrate gratitude for your life.