It’s almost 2012 and it’s only natural that we start to reminisce and review what we have (and haven’t) accomplished. It’s also a time where we are bombarded with friends and family, holiday expenses, the looming “threat” of tax time, etc.

If we have stress already in our lives it can be a time where we feel that our issues have gotten to be too much to handle. But how did we get here in the first place? If you lay awake at night, dreading the future, chances are you have some serious stress going on. Also, chances are one of the main reasons of that building stress comes from the one of the causes below.

Money and Debt

It isn’t a surprise that people worry about money and how much or how little that they have. Disagreements about money and debt is one of the leading problems that faces married couples and people in general today, and with the “global economic decline”, the pressures of making enough money are becoming greater for more and more people.

A couple of easy ways to get the stresses of your money situation out of your head are as follows:

  1. Write down and know what you are spending things on. If you don’t know where your money is going, you don’t stand a chance in making it right in the future.
  2. Start a budget and keep to it. This is the single most powerful thing that I have done to keep me sane when it comes to money. Try using YNAB for this.
  3. Keep track of your debt and figure out a way to start a “debt snowball”. It will get you excited about your future and relieve some of the current stress.
  4. Cut out things in your life that you spend too much money on and that you don’t need. Don’t go overboard though. You can stress yourself out even more by limiting your “fun spending” on entertainment and the like.

Work

Another fact of life is that you will have to do some sort of work during it. Whether it be for a big or small company, or even for yourself (you savvy, entrepreneur, you) you will have to deal with other humans, projects, deadlines, expectations, etc. Work can take control of your life if you are not careful and can cause all kinds of unneeded stress.

The fact is that we as knowledge workers aren’t worth a damn if we are overworked and under relaxed. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz point out in their book, The Power of Full Engagement (non-affiliate link), that the highest performers at work aren’t the ones that have their nose to the grindstone day in and day out; they are the ones that know how to balance their work and life and manage their energy.

Here are ways to do that:

  1. Know your limits. Most people aren’t productive for 10+ hours a day. Limit your workday and break it up with some exercise, socializing, entertainment, etc.
  2. Set up time blocks to get things done. If a project deadline is approaching and freaking you out, plan some time in your calendar where you devote your attention to it.
  3. Make sure that you make time in your schedule to plan. Most of the stress in your workday can be caused from trying to do projects and actions that haven’t been defined yet.
  4. Create a personal productivity system and stick to it. It will help you see what you have to do in your work life (as well as your personal life).

Health

Obesity levels in the US are at an all time high. Fast food and junk foods are easier and cheaper than ever to get your hands on. People’s idea of “health food” varies, but it’s usually wrong. Being unhealthy can keep you sick, in and out of hospitals, and worried that you aren’t going to see the age of 40.

I have my own opinions about how to eat and exercise, and while they aren’t for everyone, they have worked for me (and many others) and have definitely changed my game in work and life.

Being unhealthy can suck the life out of you. While everyone has their own opinion on what is the best way to eat and exercise, there are a few things that we all can agree on that will help you get and stay healthy and relieve some of that stress associated with it:

  1. Walk everyday. People don’t walk enough. Try to walk on the breaks that you should be taking during work. Try to add an hour of walking to your day in 15 minute increments.
  2. Eat well. Like I said, everyone has their own ideas of what is healthy and what isn’t. I go for a Paleo approach, but maybe that doesn’t work for you. Do some research and change your eating habits accordingly.
  3. Do some “high intensity” exercise. Lift heavy things and sprint every once in a while. It will release all kinds of endorphins essentially making you feel great and de-stressing you.
  4. Get a screening from a physician at least once a year. If you don’t have insurance consider saving up a little money every month to afford one at the end of the year. Just how you can’t know how to budget money if you don’t know where you are spending it, it’s hard to know what to change in your diet and/or exercise pattern unless you know how healthy (or unhealthy) you are.

There are stressors all around us in life, but these three are the major ones that cause most of people’s pain. Dealing with them can be difficult, especially if you have let them build up over many months and years. As we get to the end of this year, take a look at what is currently causing you stress and work on a plan to curb it.

(Photo credit: Stress courtesy of Shutterstock)

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