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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

How to Live a Stress Free Life In a Way Most People Don’t

How to Live a Stress Free Life In a Way Most People Don’t

What does it look like to eliminate stress in your life?

No, it doesn’t look like a made-for-television movie. No, it doesn’t look like something only people with extra time and money can do. It looks like your life—but without any self-created stress triggers.

Here are 12 ways to help you live a stress-free life:

1. Stop Overanalyzing Situations That Haven’t Even Happened Yet

The first step to living a stress-free life is to stop overanalyzing imaginary scenarios. It’s easy to spend time in the world of worst-case scenarios. People tend to cultivate this world for one of two reasons.

First, because if you know what the worst-case scenario is, then it won’t surprise you when it happens. Second, if you know what the worst-case scenario is, then you can do everything in your power to control the universe so the worst case never happens.

If that’s really the world you want to cultivate, then become a professional risk assessor. If not, then ask yourself how you are benefiting from continuing to live that way.

Does it make you feel better about yourself and your life? Does it make you want to leap out of bed in the morning eager to embrace the worst-case scenario? Does it bring you joy or fulfillment?

If your answer to these three questions is no, then stop it!

2. Stop Taking on Other People’s Problems

The whole advantage of other people having problems is that they aren’t your problems. When you frequently take on other people’s problems, you get into the habit of enabling.

Let’s get crystal clear about the definition of enabling: enabling is the art of continuing to take responsibility for other people, thereby disallowing their personal responsibility.

Some people develop an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or food. Others choose the seemingly kinder, gentler addiction of enabling. It is of no service to other people to take on their problems because they can’t/won’t/don’t know how to fix the problem.

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It is of service to empower others to take responsibility for themselves and their lives, to encourage, teach, and motivate others to address their own problems.

3. Stop Living Only in the Past and the Future, Get Present in the Moment

Being present in the moment involves being in your body and feeling your feelings—two things that lots of folks actually don’t know how to do.

Ask yourself these two questions: What does fear feel like in your body? What are you afraid of?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you probably aren’t present in the moment. Being present involves vulnerability, humility, and openness.

Being in the past or the future involves living in your head and ignoring what’s going on in your body and emotions.

The past and the future stop being so relevant and intriguing when you’re able to get in your body and feel your feelings. When you can do these two things, you actually want to be in the present moment. Try these tips: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying.

4. Stop Focusing on What You Don’t Have Instead of What You Have

The easiest way to stop focusing on what you don’t have is by not watching television commercials. Marketing teaches us to focus on what we don’t have, and advertising campaigns spend millions of dollars convincing us that we must have what we don’t yet have.

Can you think of a marketing campaign that teaches you to enjoy what you already have without buying something to enhance it? Odds are you can’t.

In a world dictated by Super Bowl commercials and Facebook ads, it takes stalwart focus to recognize what you have more so than what you don’t have. If you want a stress-free life now, get stalwart, and stop letting other people dictate your focus.

5. Stop Surrounding Yourself With People Who Don’t Make You Happy

Honestly, what kind of people do you really like to be around with? People who get you, who see you clearly, who accept your flaws and all; people you can be yourself with; people who have shared interests.

How many of those people are in your life? What characteristics do all of the other people in your life have? Why are you compromising by continuing to invest time and energy in people who don’t make you happy?

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Do they make you look good? Do you have a story that you have to or need to spend time with them in order to be a better person or because there is no one else to hang out with? Are you tired of me asking so many questions?

Great! Because I’m tired of you spending time with people who don’t make you happy. May I suggest owning a goldfish instead?

6. Stop Working at a Job That You See No Future In

You don’t have to stay at a job just because it pays the bills. Most people spend more time working than sleeping. The average person spends 40 to 80 hours a week—or 2,000 to 4,000 hours a year—working. That is a significant investment!

If your best friend or child told you that they were going to spend 4,000 hours giving their emotional, mental and physical energy to something (or someone) that wasn’t going to value them, give anything back to them, or pay them what they were worth what advice would you offer? Give that same advice to yourself. You won’t be stress-free unless you don’t learn this.

Here’re 11 Signs That You Should Leave Your Job.

7. Stop Taking on More Than You Can Handle

Busyness is an addiction. Slowing down can actually be terrifying because it causes you to notice that you have feelings and causes you to actually feel them.

I get it.

By the time I slowed down, I had decades of busyness under my belt. I went into a tailspin depression because I didn’t understand how to be in the right relationship with my own emotions.

When I finally figured out that feelings are just feelings and allowing them to express themselves is healthy and natural, I stopped experiencing withdrawal from my addiction to busyness and started figuring out the pace of life that felt best for me.

Remarkably, I discovered that I don’t actually like being busy. What will you discover about yourself?

8. Stop Holding on to Grudges and Anger

For me, it took 20 years of adulthood to figure out that holding on to grudges and anger only hurt me. Lucky for you, though, you can benefit vicariously from my experience just by reading one short paragraph!

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No one is holding your feet to the fire demanding that you hold on to grudges and anger. The energy of anger slowly eats away at your body, mind, and spirit until one day, you wake up more resentful than optimistic.

One day, people no longer want to be around you because the stink of negativity is oozing out of your pores. One day, you even get tired of hearing yourself get angry. And the person or people you are angry at or holding grudges against, probably haven’t been affected at all.

Who gets hurt the most in that process? You do.

Some good advice for you here: How to Let Go of Resentment and Anger

9. Stop Living Too Much in Your Past

To live a stress-free life, you have to stop living in your past. I know it seems like fun to compare everything in your present to your past, and to experience the present through past-colored glasses, but it actually isn’t.

When you wear past-colored glasses, you can’t truly experience the present for what it is. Your boyfriend or girlfriend gets compared to a list of expectations and failed relationships rather than recognized for the unique blessing they are in your life.

Your boss gets compared to all the bosses who came before her. Your friends’ ability to parent gets compared to your parents’ ability to parent.

People, including you, deserve to stand on their own past-free merit.

10. Stop Complaining About Things That Can’t Be Changed

There are always going to be people elected into office whom you don’t like, taxes that you don’t want to pay, idiot drivers who refuse to move out of the left-hand lane, and a person ahead of you in the check-out line who won’t stop chatting with the clerk.

The great benefit of being human is that we get to experience all of what life offers us, the good, the bad, and the ugly. To live stress-free is to learn to deal with this fact.

Dwelling on your frustration with a situation, person, place, or thing that can’t be changed doesn’t do anything other than drag you down. You are the only person who is will ultimately choose to decide how to respond to that which is.

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11. Stop Living Through Other People’s Lives

Um, I’m just going to state the obvious here, because sometimes, we cannot see what is right in front of our own noses (myself included):

Someone else’s life is not your life. Your life is your life.

Let me break that down even further. What that means is you get to live your life, and other people get to live their lives. You get to make stupid, ridiculous mistakes, take leaps of faith, and stuff things inside your handbag of fear just as much as the next person. And you don’t get to judge that other person for their life choices or manage their life for them so they don’t have to go through all of what you have gone through.

Going through stuff is the whole great messy adventure of being human! Being alive and living life is terrifying and glorious and everything in between.

Don’t rob someone else of being able to experience the richness of humanity. And don’t let everyone else have all of the adventure and intrigue; grab some for yourself.

12. Stop Focusing Only on Your Weaknesses Instead of Your Attractive Qualities

True confession: I hired a pleasure coach to help me experience more pleasure in my life. Sure, some may call her a sex coach (and she is), but what I wanted was some support with enjoying myself and my life. I just wasn’t having any fun, and I was more focused on what I thought was wrong with me than what was really right.

Every week for 12 weeks, she had me look at myself in a mirror, like, directly look—with clothes and without. This initially was like slow torture and I avoided my homework assignment as much as possible.

Then, something remarkable happened in week eight. I was avoiding my homework assignment by making my dog do it (he loves to look at himself in the mirror!), and lo and behold, I snuck a glimpse of myself and I was awestruck by the gorgeous woman staring back at me.

Give yourself the gift of seeing yourself clearly: you will be amazed by what you discover! And this free you from stress.

Final Thoughts

An astounding thing happens when you release stress, get into a relationship with your body, mind, and spirit, and just be yourself without judgment.

Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events. You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life, with this feeling of contentment and joy.

You move fluidly, steadily, calm, and grateful. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born. And this is how you live a stress-free life.

More Tips on How to Live a Fulfilling, Stress-Free Life

Featured photo credit: Drew Coffman via unsplash.com

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Emma Churchman

Emma is a Creative Business Consultant, and Leadership Coach & Trainer

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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