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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life and Feel Better

How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life and Feel Better

Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “If I only had (fill in the blank), I wouldn’t have to worry anymore”? 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 that keep us awake at night. Everyone experiences stress due to life events, but chronic stress 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[1], 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.[2]

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.

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, 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, which your boss will appreciate.

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Stay Organized

A disorganized work environment creates a great deal of stress and negatively affects your mental health. 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. Start by organizing your work area, so you can easily find your tools and papers.

Then, organize your time by determining how long it should take you to perform certain tasks, and try to dedicate the necessary time and avoid unnecessary distractions.

Forget multitasking, as 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 day-to-day 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 stressful events 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.

2. Financial Stress

Finances are another of the common stressors 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.

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.

Here are some suggestions for reducing financial stress.[3]

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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. 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.

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[4].

Now the NFL gives rookie players a course in financial management so that they invest their money wisely. 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.

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, as 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, as well. Learn from their mistakes, instead of yours.

3. Health-Related Stress

For many people, health problems like illness and injury are some 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. 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.

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I’ve also avoided abusing my body with risky activities. 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, which I wasn’t willing to do.

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.

4. Relationship Stress

Relationships are one of the greatest stressors in life, especially for younger people. We usually aren’t explicitly taught how to have good, healthy relationships. This is something we learn through experience and a lot of heartache, which can lead to having a stressful life for a long time.

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.

Communicate

One of the keys to less stressful relationships is communication. It’s important to be open about how we feel 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.

Practice Maturity

Another key to less stressful relationships is maturity. It takes wisdom and mature emotions to not create unnecessary conflict and drama. These take time and experience to develop, but by being aware of how you’re acting, you can begin to learn these skills.

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[5]:

  • 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: 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. Nowadays, there is a wealth of good information on the Internet about almost every health issue you can think of.

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.

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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.

Meditation

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.

Final Thoughts

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, but 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. Therefore, 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:

  1. Choose wisely the things that are truly important in your life.
  2. Arm yourself with information about your stressors, so you have more control over your future.
  3. 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.

More Tips on Handling Stress

Featured photo credit: Ivan Aleksic via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The American Institute of Stress: What Is Stress?
[2] Very Well Mind: 9 Simple Ways to Deal With Stress at Work
[3] American Psychological Association: Dealing with Financial Stress
[4] Forbes: NFL Players Need A Playbook When Managing Their Financial Future
[5] Exploring Your Mind: Stress and Poor Nutrition

More by this author

Charles A. Francis

Author, meditation teacher, and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

7 Daily Habits to Balance My Day (And My Life)

7 Daily Habits to Balance My Day (And My Life)

We live in a success-obsessed world. Many of us chase after success in our careers or business at the expense of family, relationships, health, and spirituality. We fail to understand that success cannot be compartmentalized. When one area of your life suffers, all the other areas will follow suit sooner or later. If you want to be successful in life, and not just in your career, you need to strive for balance.

The good news is that you can get closer to balance in your life with 7 very simple daily habits:

1. Start your day with prayer or meditation

Achieving balance in your life starts with your personal choice and decision to change the way you live your life. It requires your attitude and discipline to make it happen. That’s why achieving balance in your life requires that you have a very strong core. If you don’t like who you are, where you are, or what you do, chances are you won’t like the other areas of your life either.

Make it a habit to start your day by praying or meditating. Praying or meditating in the morning helps you feel that you are more than you think you are, that you can do more than you think you can, and that there is more to life than what you’re currently doing. Connect with yourself, know yourself, affirm yourself more, and understand that you are meant for greater things.

2. Be fully present when you’re with your family

Family life is the area most often associated with work-life balance. Having a great family life is like the pinnacle of achieving work-life balance. After all, it is your family who sticks with you through thick and thin. When all is said and done, some friendships fade, but your family will remain.

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Start making a difference in the world by first making a difference in your family. Spend more quality time with them. Eat breakfast with them. Be more physically and emotionally present in their lives. Do one thing with your family today in which you’re fully engaged. Yes, you can make a huge dent in other people’s lives, but start small by making a dent and being more involved in the lives of the people already around you.

3. Reach out to one person you already know

In business, having a strong network helps you spread the word about your company. It also helps you get more things done. In your personal life, a strong network helps you grow in the different areas of your life. Which is another way to help achieve balance. By expanding your network and building strong connections, you get to learn from other people, widen your perspective, and even stretch your vision for your life.

Everyday, contact at least one person you already know. It’s always easier to start expanding your network with someone you already know. Tell that person what you’re up to and ask if there’s anything you can help him or her with. Then, ask that person if he or she can help you with something, even something as simple as spreading the word about what you’re doing. People are willing to help more than you think. Asking for help also builds trust. To keep the ball rolling, don’t forget to ask if he or she can introduce you to someone who can help you as well.

4. Spend fifteen honing your expertise

For Bill Gates, it was computing. For Michael Jordan, it was basketball. For Albert Einstein, it was theoretical physics.What did these three successful gentlemen share? They knew what they were great at.

If you want to succeed in life, excelling at one thing is a must. It’s better to be great at one thing and suck at everything else than to be average at everything.

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Spend at least fifteen minutes each day improving what you’re already good at. If you’re into blogging, spend fifteen minutes reading articles on websites like Problogger. If you’re good at marketing, spend fifteen minutes studying the latest marketing tools and trends and visiting blogs like Seth Godin’s. If you’re great at sports, by all means, practice! Whatever you do, make sure you strive to become better each day.

5. Do something creative

Even though the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory has been debunked,[1] the world still enthrones activities attributed to the left-brain, such as logic and measurement,  while “right-brain” activities like creative pursuits get short-changed. Most jobs today require analytical thinking more than creative thinking. Many people also deem creative pursuits impractical and give up on them.

No matter what your job is, you should keep going after creative pursuits. If you’re employed or if you have a business, create a plan to get more customers, to get more things done, to introduce more products, and to grow the business. Notice how your blood will get pumping and your adrenaline rushing. Only “right-brain” activities or creative pursuits have that effect in our lives. More importantly, it is only through creative pursuits that you stretch your vision and redefine what’s possible for your business and for life.

If you’re more of an artist, engage in creative activities that excite you like drawing, painting, playing music, writing music, animating, writing a story, or even starting a blog! It helps achieve balance in and add color to your life after a long, monotonous, “left-brain” dominant day.

Don’t just control, using your analytical “left-brain.”Create using your “right-brain” as well.

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6. Take a 30-minute walk

The first five things you need to do each day focus on your emotional, relational, and personal success. But, in order to achieve and enjoy all those successes, you also need to succeed in the area of your physical health. You cannot enjoy all the success you’ve worked so hard for if you’re lying sick in bed.

Make it a habit to get yourself moving. Take a 30-minute walk,[2] go to the gym, take Zumba classes, or even stretch for ten minutes after every hour of sitting down. Just get yourself moving! There are so many different benefits from physical activities[3] and so many different ways to do it. Find what works for you and do it consistently. Small, consistent action beats one big effort followed by a big crash every time.

7. Do one thing to reach out, give back, or pay forward

We all know the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Whatever successes you are enjoying right now, you didn’t achieve them on your own. You were given unique opportunities by your parents, your family’s history and background, different circumstances, the people you met, and “angels” you’ve encountered along the way. Success is not only a personal achievement. Success is also being given many opportunities to succeed.

Unfortunately, not everyone was given the same opportunities you were given.

If you are reading this article, chances are you are living a more privileged life than many others out there who don’t even have internet access. Be that small flicker of hope to someone today. Be the “angel” who will give that person the same opportunity that you had. No matter how you help, whether in educational, business, or even financial support, keep in mind that what you’re giving someone is an opportunity to succeed.

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Helping someone also doesn’t have to be big right away. You can start small by simply reaching out and giving that person an opportunity to have an emotional support in you.

Finally, Malcolm Gladwell put it very nicely in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success:

“Because we so profoundly personalize success, we miss opportunities to lift others onto the top rung… We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And most of all, we become much too passive. We overlook just how large a role we all play—and by ‘we’ I mean society—in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.”

Put It on Paper and Take Action

Now that you’re finished reading, don’t let your own ideas of achieving balance in your life slip away. Write them down, make a clear, actionable plan, act on it, and live a remarkable and more balanced life.

Featured photo credit: Cristian Newman via unsplash.com

Reference

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