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How to Curb Three Major Stressors in Life

How to Curb Three Major Stressors in Life

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    (Photo credit: Stress courtesy of Shutterstock)

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

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    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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