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8 Things That Stress You Out That You Should Ignore

8 Things That Stress You Out That You Should Ignore

If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out consistently, you might actually be a victim of your own thoughts/decisions. There are many things that can cause stress, but here are eight things that can stress you out that you should simply ignore.

Negative People In Your Life

Commonly referred to as “da hatas”, these people will criticize you every chance they get. Especially when you try something a little different, or you dare to challenge the status quo. In a world where it’s easy to make Facebook friends, but not so easy to make real connections, it can be incredibly hard to “dump” your negative friends. In most cases, you can sort the problem out by ignoring their negative input, and if you realize that’s all they have to offer, ignoring them completely and stopping spending time with them.

The Opinions Of Strangers

Something that can be a rather overwhelming source of stress, is the prospect of the opinions of strangers. Typically this concerns people the most during high school, but many keep being haunted by this concept throughout their twenties, or even their entire lives.

Not only do the opinions of strangers not matter at all, it’s unlikely they even care enough about you to make up one about you. Sure they may look at your fancy suit, and your fancy car, and think “he seems rich” or “oh great, another wealthy douche moved into my neighborhood” but it’s unlikely they’re going to dwell on you for any amount of time after that.

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You can take solace in the fact that even if you’re about to speak to a large group of strangers, no matter how badly you flop, they will likely forget about you completely at some point during the next hour. Another thing that can help to remember, is that the most visible parts of our society are the extremes, the very best, and the very worst. Sure the only speeches you see online are either amazing or mindblowingly terrible and hilarious fails, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of average speeches in buried in there somewhere.

What Your Parents (or Others) Think Is Best For You

This can be a tough one, as your parents will often use the “life experience” card, and many times rightfully so. (Other times they are just plain wrong.) But even if they are right, in life, it’s important to have your own failures and reach your own conclusions, not always simply receiving and following guidance from “more experienced individuals”. Don’t let what your parents think you should be doing stress you out while you’re out there doing what is best for you at this time.

If they are always on your case, and getting in the way of your work/project/studies, you can always let them in on your secret (fake or real) back-up plan to do what they want you to do, if your current endeavor fails.

Your Ideals

If you’re doing any kind of creative work, it’s easy to get stuck, never feeling quite ready to release it, or move on to the next project, because it’s “just not right.” Ira Glass describes this problem as “the gap”, between how you feel good creative work should be, and your current ability. Watch this video to help you overcome this tendency.

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And if you’re stressed out about not being the person you want to be, don’t. Nobody is their own ideal person. Even the greatest people you can think of had their own flaws. Either you learn to accept them, or you choose to slowly tackle one area at a time, and focus your energy towards improvement rather than worrying.

Or if you’re one of those people that have a 100% clear idea of what your perfect partner looks like.

Resistance

Sometimes things are difficult. Sometimes you keep running into barrier after barrier after barrier, and you can’t seem to get into any sort of acceptable pace. Instead of focusing on the barriers, and indeed, expecting more of them and letting that stress you out, focus solely on the process of overcoming them and learning from every experience. Instead of getting stuck in an “Oh God why did this happen again??” pattern of thought, instead immediately think “How can I overcome this problem? Have I run into a similar problem before?” And focus your energy on moving forward.

Your Expectations

It’s funny how your expectations of something stressful happening can be almost as stressful as something stressful happening. And while it’s healthy to remain realistic, and be open to possibilities, it’s counterproductive to remain overly focused on worst-case scenarios you cannot prevent or do anything about, as it will only cause stress and is unlikely to yield any valuable insights. Instead quickly consider a few things that could go wrong where countermeasures are available, take the countermeasures and move forward.

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Another thing that can cause stress, is expecting something to go well, or a certain way, only to experience that it doesn’t. For everyday matters, it can be better to try to expect nothing, or as much of a neutral result as possible, and focus on enjoying the process instead.

Your Self-Criticism

Now don’t get me wrong, a certain amount of self-critique is necessary to remain sane. But after a point, it can not only become a dominant source for stress, it can lead to a downward spiral towards depression. While having the self-insight to realize when you’ve messed up is good, things start to turn bad when you dwell on those mistakes, and then infer that you have some deep character flaw that is causing you to make this mistake, and similar ones, earlier. Of course, the second you start believing that this character flaw exists, it becomes more and more apparent, (as it becomes easier and easier to use it as an excuse to make bad choices). The most obvious example is laziness. Half a generation is crippled by their self-affirmed belief that they are too lazy to go out and actually do things. And because they’ve told themselves so many times, it’s no longer debatable. You can’t even suggest to these people that they have the potential to change, because it’s simply “part of who they are”.

Thankfully, avoiding this is rather straight forward. When reflecting on mistakes, accept the blame when the fault is yours, but don’t try to conceptualize the flaws in your character that lead to this mistake. And always remember to challenge any negative conclusions you reach about yourself. If you find yourself thinking “I’m just lazy!.” Simply ask this: “Am I really? Has there never been a time when I have proven to be the exact opposite?” It can be hard to stay objective when you’re in a bad mood, but give yourself some time. Think of a few examples and avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of “laziness”.

Worry About Being Stressed

If you feel that you’re too stressed all the time, it can become a source for more worry and stress. Some studies even suggest that the adverse effects of stress come mostly from the belief that stress is harmful for you. (Watch this video.) So if you have a rather stressful job, or life in general, learn to welcome it as a boost of energy, to join hands with it and become friends, and you will not only likely feel less stressed/worried in your free time, but you can reduce the negative health effects that many associate with prolonged periods of stress.

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Although there are many more things you can obsess over and stress yourself out, I think we’ve established a few ways you can deal with this tendency and reduce your stress through conscious choices, and conscious thoughts.

Featured photo credit: Stefan Neuweger via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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