Feeling stressed out and anxious? Like your cup is going to overflow, maybe boil over, at any moment?
We say self-defense is 90% Awareness, Preparation, and Prevention. All three of these are necessary before any physical self-defense techniques will work. Perhaps the same is true of "stress-defense".
Check out these 25 time-tested Stress Busters.
Every one might not be for you, but there's sure to be one or two that will work!
- Get up 1-hour earlier every morning. Is one hour too much? How about 15 minutes? Even a few extra minutes to prepare helps to alleviate stress. Work up to a full hour. This can be "you time" to read, exercise, plan out the day, or just have a cup of coffee in peace. When I moved my start time up to 5:30 AM both my productivity and peace of mind increased.
- Plan and prepare for tomorrow, tonight. Layout and prioritize your agenda for the next day. Work deliverables, family obligations, personal objectives, etc.
- Leverage technology to be less forgetful. Like it or not, we carry smartphones and smartwatches with us every day and everywhere. You don't have to rely on your memory anymore. Use the tech to set appointments and reminders.
- Start creating redundant systems. Two is one, one is none. For example, consider making duplicates of all keys. Bury a house key in a secret spot in the garden and carry a duplicate car key in your wallet, apart from your key ring. Prevent the stress of "losing your keys."
- Change your oil regularly. This is both literal and metaphoric. Regular maintenance of your home, appliances, and car can help prevent unexpected failures and the associated stress. But also, check "your" gauges. Maintain yourself. Rest and repair when needed.
- Be patient. Sometimes things will take longer than expected. The delay will pass and we'll be onto the next thing.
- Don't procrastinate. It just makes things worse. We typically procrastinate because we fear the stress of doing "the thing". However, the more we delay action the more stress is created. If it needs to get done, do it.
- Plan ahead. Think "prepper-lite". Having some of these low-probability, but possible scenarios can remove a lot of stress from your mind. You may not even realize that this stress is weighing you down. Do you have an EAP in your home and place of work? A go-bag / get home bag? Enough supplies in your house if you lost power for a couple days? A backup generator? etc.
- Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work correctly. If your alarm clock, wallet, shoelaces, windshield wipers, or whatever are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
- Early is on time. On-time is late. I try to always allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Plan to arrive at an airport one hour before domestic departures.
- Have a "just in case" plan. When my daughter was two, we started practicing these. What would she do, if we were separated in a public place? You can check out this blog and this blog for more details.
- Manage your expectations. Strive for excellence, but accept that perfection is impossible.
- Start a gratitude journal. Every morning I write (type actually) three things I am thankful for. It makes a big difference. You'll tune your brain to see more positives in every situation.
- Ask clarifying or confirming questions. If someone is asking you to do something, repeat it back to them. If you are asking someone to do something for you, ask them to repeat it back to you. Make sure there is clarity of the desired result.
- Be Dr. No. Saying no is both liberating and empowering. You don't need to do everything and help everyone. Be selective. When you say yes make sure you can give 100%
- Implement phone jail. Unplug your phone and unplug yourself. It may not be feasible to do this for long stretches of time. But, even short windows can relieve a ton of stress. At first, it may cause more anxiety, but in the long run, it's a proven stress-reducer. Can you unplug for an entire Sunday? How about just 1 or 2 hours every night? When I get home from work, the phone and laptop are stowed in the mudroom until the kids are asleep.
- Know the difference between needs and wants. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water, and keeping warm. Everything else is a preference. Don’t get attached to preferences.
- Surround yourself with stress-free folks. Ever noticed some people just seem even-keeled and stress-free most of the time? Their life isn't necessarily easier, they just have a better way of processing what gets thrown at them. Hang around these people and try to learn their ways.
- Stand up. Have a desk job? Stare at a computer all day? Plan a few breaks throughout the day. Get out of your chair and stretch a bit. It makes a big difference.
- Listen to music. Ever watch a movie trailer for an epic action movie without sound? It just doesn't have the same impact. Music has a profound effect on our minds and bodies. Find the right tunes and put in those earbuds.
- Rest and Recovery. 6 hours of sleep is the minimum. Have a regular sleep and wake time. This consistency improves the quality of your sleep. (And, no screens at least 30 minutes before sleep)
- Get organized. Arrange your home and office so that you always know exactly where things are. Put things away where they belong and you won’t have to go through the stress of losing things.
- Learn the "four-fold breath". Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth at a specific cadence. Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds. Repeat this until the rage, uh I mean stress, subsides.
- Meditation 101. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose. Count backward from a high number. Counting backward takes you out of a reactive mental state into a conscious proactive mental state.
- BONUS: TRAIN MARTIAL ARTS!!!