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5 Ways to Practice Stress Free Living

5 Ways to Practice Stress Free Living

There’s a funny phenomenon that happens to me daily. It happens the moment a person stops and asks me the question, “How are you?” My reply is often one of the following, “I’m always well”, “I’m perfect”, “I couldn’t be better”, or “I can’t complain”. As quick as the words exit my mouth, I am usually hit with a whiff of skepticism from the questioner and often asked the follow-up question, “So how do you do it?” Well, here it is in 5 steps.

1. Get Rid of Stressors

If you cannot rid yourself of all your known stressors, learn to disarm them.

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Phase one: Ridding yourself of stressors. Often times our main stressors stem from the feelings we develop when we feel we need to or have to perform some task that we aren’t fully passionate about or committed to. Basically, we can’t stand unwanted responsibilities. Other times our stressors can be the people around us. Now, I am sure as you read these lines, you have already gone ahead and implanted that person or persons into this equation and that’s fine but keep the following quote in mind.

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus.

If people are the cause of your stress, then it may be time to consider creating some distance in order to develop better strategies of approaching and handling the relationship. It may also be time for you to reassess the necessity of the relationship. An important piece of advice to remember is that no task or person is worth more than your own sense of well-being. You have to be at your best in order to give your best and stress takes away all possibilities of you being able to be your best consistently and over time.

Phase two: Disarming your stressors. If you cannot rid yourself of your stressor(s), don’t panic. Learning to disarm them can be just as powerful. Disarming your stressors involves following steps 2 through 5 listed below. In short, disarming your stressor(s) happens the moment you decide to focus on personal development and work on yourself for yourself. A strong sense of self activates an impenetrable force field that only lets in what you allow!

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2. Think, Speak, Act, and Radiate Positivity

  • Think Positive and throw out everything that enters your mind that isn’t. Not giving in to negative thoughts of your own and from others requires faith, confidence, discipline, and the ability to choose the correct perceptual position at the appropriate time.
  • Speak Positive and don’t allow yourself to have or be influenced by your own negative thoughts or negative conversations, opinions or suggestions around you. Avoid negative communication and conversations as they have the tendency to effect your thinking consciously and subconsciously.
  • Act Positive (to do so successfully and consistently, your thoughts and words must align with your actions) and watch your environment and the people around you change or take notice. In order to create lasting change, you must be willing to model the change you seek. Modeling is one of the easiest ways to help others experience the benefits of a behavioral change without feeling like you’re reprimanding them.
  • Radiate Positivity because as Maryanne Williamson beautifully stated:

“When we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

3. Be Truthful

Honesty can go a long way when it comes to authenticity but it also works well as a stress reliever. If you really want to unload your burden, be truthful with yourself and others. Acceptance may be the final stage of grief but it’s the first stage of truth.

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4. Be Consistently Authentic

Being consistently authentic is being true to yourself. This is done through communicating your truth through your thoughts, speech and actions as close to you as humanly possible. It allows others to experience you for who you truly are and makes you more likely to be accepted, respected and admired thus increasing your ability to influence others positively. Being consistently authentic alleviates the often stressful and unnecessary belief that you need to live up to expectations or act differently among groups or environments, both familiar and unfamiliar. After all; it’s simpler to be yourself than it is to be someone else.

5. Be Grateful

If you allow yourself to take a more conscientious approach to how you view your life and the world around you, you will most surely be able to identify not only things you have to be grateful for but also things you do not have that you can be grateful for. When you can acknowledge the infinite amount of problems the creatures of this world face and are effected by in comparison to whatever problem or problems you have in your life, I’d hope you’d be able to find a few scenarios that not only humble you but cause you to seriously reflect upon all the things you have to be grateful for.

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Being grateful is not just being thankful for having or not having, being effected by or not being effected by. It is the ability to understand and grasp the big picture life presents to us and be thankful for our place in it. It is the ability to keep everything in perspective as it relates to humanity as one being. It is the understanding of life’s longstanding fundamentals and lessons that have been communicated and demonstrated throughout time and history. When you have everything to be grateful for, where does stress fit in?

Featured photo credit: Photo by: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Tyrone Robinson

Life, Career, Executive Coach & Business Consultant

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

This is why setting priorities is so important.

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3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

1. Eat a Frog

There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

2. Move Big Rocks

Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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3. Covey Quadrants

If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important and Not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

    The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

    Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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    You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

    Getting to Know You

    Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

    In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

    These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

    More Tips for Effective Prioritization

    Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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