Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “If I only had (fill in the blank), I wouldn’t have to worry anymore”? Maybe you don’t think that consciously, but most of us do unconsciously. It’s hard to overcome those deeply ingrained beliefs around stressors in life.
“You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.” – Wayne Dyer
We all have stressors in life, things we worry about and keep us awake at night. Stress is a normal part of life. It tells us when we’re in danger, but too much of it can compromise our health. It can cause irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia. Stress can even weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to illnesses.
In this article, I am going to discuss the 5 most common stressors in life, and give you some suggestions for dealing with them more effectively, so you can live a more peaceful and fulfilling life.
1. Workplace Stress
Workplace stress is the most common stressor in life for many people. It can come from tensions with co-workers or a boss, work overload, or simply the nature of the work, such as law enforcement. Whatever the case, there are things you can do to reduce the stress. Here are some effective strategies.
Start Your Day Off Right
Many of us are stressed out before we even arrive at work. We may have children to get ready and off to school, other responsibilities to tend to, and traffic with angry drivers to deal with.
Start your day off right by getting up early enough to take care of your responsibilities, eat properly, and cultivate a positive attitude. This reduces the likelihood of feeling all out of sorts when you arrive at work.
“Today is not just another day. It’s a new opportunity, another chance, a new beginning. Embrace it.”
Know Exactly What Is Expected of You
Many of us are not entirely clear about what our boss expects from us. This usually happens in smaller companies that may not be as organized as larger companies. It’s important to know what’s expected of you, so you can avoid unnecessary tensions.
Communication is the key to avoiding this type of conflict. If you’re not sure what your boss expects of you, then ask. There is nothing wrong with asking your boss to clarify his requirements. In fact, it demonstrates that you are conscientious and sincerely interested in doing a good job. Bosses like that.
A disorganized work environment creates a great deal of stress. You always feel rushed because you’re not sure where things are, you misjudge the time required to perform tasks, and you’re not clear on your goals and objectives.
To reduce stress, organize your work environment a little. You don’t need to go overboard. Start by organizing your work area, so you can easily find your tools. Then organize your time. Determine how long it should take you to perform certain tasks, and try to dedicate the necessary time and avoid unnecessary distractions.
Forget multitasking. The efficiencies of multitasking are a myth. Studies have shown that people are more productive when they focus on one task at a time.
Stay Away From Unnecessary Conflict
Much of the conflict at work is unavoidable. Each person has his/her own responsibilities, which may conflict with those of others. However, workplace drama is unnecessary and counterproductive. The best thing to do is to avoid this kind of conflict and save yourself the aggravation and stress. Treat everyone with respect, avoid gossip, and avoid sensitive topics like politics and religion.
With conflicts in responsibilities, a good strategy for dealing with them is to communicate your goals and objectives when they seem to conflict with those of co-workers. Remember, you’re all on the same team trying to achieve the goals of the company. Take a teamwork approach and talk things out.
2. Financial Stress
Finances are another common stressor in life. We worry about paying the rent, a mortgage, car loans, utilities, and food. We also worry about our investments, especially if we’re nearing retirement.
Now, you may think that simply having more money will take away these worries, but that isn’t necessarily so. Even wealthy people worry about finances. They worry about how their investment projects are doing and about people suing them just to get money from them.
Here are some suggestions for reducing financial stress.
Live Within Your Means
One of the biggest mistakes people make is spending more money than they have. Credit card companies are quick to give you credit cards with high interest rates, so it’s easy to overextend yourself.
To avoid this mistake, keep track of your finances, and avoid the temptation to buy things you can’t afford. Also, give yourself a cushion. Set some money aside for unexpected expenses, such as car or home repairs. It’s a good idea to put money in a savings account every month, even if it’s a small amount. You will certainly need it later.
Educate Yourself on Finances
For those of you who do not have a background in finance, handling money responsibly can be a challenge. Professional football players were notorious for making millions during their short careers, and then ending up broke when they could no longer play.
Now the NFL gives rookie players a course in financial management so that they invest their money wisely and don’t spend it all. This is a good strategy for everyone. Some important things to learn are:
- Managing a checking a account
- Using credit cards wisely
- Borrowing money
- Making large purchases (home, car)
- Investing for retirement
Learning basic finances isn’t all that complicated. Once you have some understanding of finances, you can avoid the stress that comes from the unknown. There are many great books and courses to learn from.
Ask for Help
If you feel lost or unsure about making financial decisions, it’s OK to ask someone for help. Make sure it’s someone you trust. Don’t entrust your finances with somebody you don’t know well. There are many unscrupulous people eager to take advantage of others.
I would suggest consulting a loved one or a trusted friend. Parents are a great resource. Chances are they’ve been in your shoes. Learn from their mistakes, instead of yours.
Remember What’s Important in Life
Many of us experience financial hardships at some point in our lives. There is always going to be another recession in the future. It’s not a matter of if, but when. I had some friends who made a great deal of money in real estate in the early 2000s. When the great recession hit in 2009, they lost everything.
“The most important things in life aren’t things.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
It is during these times that we need to remember that there are other things more important than money, such as our relationships, good health, and peace of mind. We can cultivate these things without a lot of money.
It is a good idea to be mindful of the important things in your life before you experience financial hardship. This way you won’t be caught by surprise.
3. Health Related Stress
For many people, illness is one of the biggest stressors in life. This is more common when we get older, when our body begins to decline. When we’re young, we’re more resilient, and we can recover much more quickly from injuries and illnesses.
Experiencing an illness is frightening because, until we get it diagnosed and treated, we usually don’t know what is happening to our body, or if we will recover. When we don’t understand what is happening to us, we usually assume the worst. However, there are things we can do to reduce the stress associated with health issues.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
The approach I’ve taken to reduce health related stress is to avoid poor health as much as possible. Since I was in my early 20s, I’ve tried to live a healthy lifestyle. I’ve eaten healthy foods, and in moderation. I’ve also exercised regularly and maintained an active lifestyle, so I’ve never been overweight.
I’ve also avoided abusing my body with risky activities and activities that cause a lot of wear and tear on my body. For example, when I was younger I was involved in bodybuilding in order to stay in shape. I wanted to compete, but I realized that would entail taking training and supplementation to an extreme that would compromise my good health. I wasn’t willing to do that.
Know Your Risks
Many of us have certain risk factors that are unique to each of us. Some may be genetic, such as diabetes, heart disease, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, or cancer. Whatever the case, learn your family history of health issues.
It’s important to talk to your parents. Sometimes they don’t want to talk about sensitive issues, but it’s necessary for your good health. I know of one case where a man’s father didn’t tell him that he had had colon cancer. With the son not being aware of the high risk, he didn’t look for it when he was young and developed the cancer. He’s still alive today but has undergone a great deal of unnecessary pain and suffering.
4. Relationship Stress
Relationships are one of the greatest stressors in life, especially for younger people. We usually aren’t taught how to have good, healthy relationships. This is something we learn through experience and a lot of heartache.
When we’re inexperienced with relationships, we usually let our emotions make our decisions for us. We get involved with people that we’re not compatible with, but who we care for deeply. If we’re not compatible, then we engage in power struggles, each person trying to exert his or her will in the relationship. This leads to a lot of stress because we feel like we lack control.
One of the keys to less stressful relationships is communication. It’s important to be open about how we feel, which isn’t always easy, and what we’re looking for in the relationship. Sometimes you can work things out, and sometimes you can’t. If you can’t, then you need to move on before each of you has too much invested in the relationship, which makes it harder to end later.
Another key to less stressful relationships is maturity. It takes wisdom and mature emotions to not create unnecessary conflict and drama. I’m afraid these just take time and experience to develop. It’s one of the things you can look forward to when you get older.
5. Poor Nutrition
Another stressor in life is poor nutrition. Most of us are not fully aware of how the things we consume can raise our stress level. Here are a few examples:
- Drinking Too Much Coffee – While coffee has many benefits, too much can increase stress by raising the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Eating Foods that Increase Cortisol Levels – There are other foods that raise your cortisol levels, such as refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, red meats, fried foods, and other foods high in fat.
- Skipping Meals – In addition to providing us with the proper nutrients to maintain good health, stopping to eat gives us a break from our busy day, which allows us to relax and de-stress.
- Not Drinking Water – This is basically the same as skipping meals. Our body needs water to function properly, and stopping to take a drink gives us a short break.
- Eating Compulsively – We sometimes eat as a reaction to stress, and we usually make poor choices of what to eat when this happens.
Educate Yourself on Basic Health and Nutrition
You can eliminate a lot of health related stress by knowing what is happening in your body. Basic health and nutrition is part of most education programs in grade school and college. It may not seem too important when you’re young, but it is because how you treat your body when you’re young will affect your health when you’re older. So, pay attention in class, and try to put into practice what you learn.
It is also a good idea to keep learning. Nowadays, there is a wealth of good information on the Internet about almost every health issue you can think of. Every time I have something that ails me, I research it. I find out what the cause is and look for natural remedies. If it is something serious and beyond my capability to treat on my own, then I go to the doctor prepared to have an intelligent discussion about the issue.
In order to live a healthy lifestyle, you don’t have to follow such a strict diet and exercise regimen. Mainly eat foods that are healthy, in smaller meals, and more often. Also, try to stay physically active.
Keep in mind that healthy food isn’t necessarily bland and tasteless. I eat lots of delicious foods and desserts. And by staying physically active, I eat as much as I want without gaining any weight, even as I’ve gotten older, and so can you.
When it comes to dealing with stressors in life, mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool.
Meditation doesn’t necessarily solve your problems, but it does enable you deal with them much better. In addition, it calms your mind, which leads to calmer emotions.
Mindfulness meditation is easy to practice, and you don’t have to meditate for long periods to get the benefits. If you’re new to meditation, just sit quietly for 5-10 minutes following your breath. Do this several times a week, and you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel, and you won’t react so much to things that trigger your fears, anger, or anxiety.
Most of us long for peace and tranquility in our lives. When we’re young, we tend to think that once we get or achieve certain things, we’ll be able to relax. Those of you who are middle age or older have probably realized the fallacy of this way of thinking.
“By changing your attitude, you also change your perspective and change your life.” – Roy Bennett
We all have stressors in life, things that cause us to worry about our future. That’s natural. It is the unpredictable nature of the stressors that make us feel insecure and not in control.
However, it’s not really those things that cause us the stress, but rather how we view them. Thereore, if you want to lower your stress level, you need to change the way you mentally process the circumstances in your life. To accomplish this, you basically need to do three things:
- Choose wisely the things that are truly important in your life.
- Arm yourself with information about your stressors, so you have more control over your future.
- Learn to live with the remaining uncertainty.
If you can do these three things, then you can enjoy your life to the greatest extent possible. The suggestions outlined in this article will help you get there.
More Tips on Handling Stress
- 7 Stress Management Techniques to Get You Back on Track
- Managing Stress in Daily Life
- How to Reduce Mental Stress Quickly (And Naturally)
Featured photo credit: Gift Habeshaw via unsplash.com