Feeling stressed on occasion is normal. A little bit of pressure can inspire us to evolve. But chronic stress takes a heavy toll on our bodies, weakening our immune systems, slowing metabolism, and interfering with higher brain functions. And while some stress may be unavoidable, often we stress ourselves unnecessarily. If you find yourself worrying a lot of the time, here are a few things that do not need you to be in freak out mode.
Getting older is a fact of life in this time-based reality we share. You can fight it and stress about it as much as you like, but worrying is not going to turn back the clock. Surgery and other extreme battle tactics only stress the body more. Retain your vitality as you age by eating healthfully, exercising, and engaging in activities you love – but do not stress yourself about your wrinkles and age spots (aka badges of honor).
2. Running Out of Money
Financial security can seem like the most important thing ever, and it can be easier to relax if you have some stability. But wealthy people tend to stress about money as much as poor people, and nothing can buy back your health or the time you lost stressing. If you are on the lower end of the financial spectrum, focus on your skills, friends, and the resources you do have. Even if bankruptcy is immanent, worrying about money will not help you get any more of it. Learn to appreciate every thing in your life, and trust that you will navigate through any situation.
3. Being Too Selfish
Sharing and building community are very important, and here at MHLC we talk a lot about the importance of giving. But you cannot give from an empty cup. If you need to practice self-care by saying “no” to a new obligation or someone else’s needs, let that be okay. Everyone will be much happier if you fill yourself up energetically so you can give from a place of fullness.
4. Succeeding at a Job You Hate
Being the best at something does not matter if you hate what you are doing. Integrity is more important than a paycheck. If your job compromises your values or sense of self, it is creating unnecessary and unhealthy stress. It is okay to work hard at a job that is meaningful and appropriate for you, but if you are stressing yourself out in a workplace that kills your soul, it might be time for a shift.
5. Finishing the Entire Project
A vision is important, but we can freak ourselves out if we get lost in the big picture. Break large projects into smaller goals. If the next step you have planned for yourself seems overwhelming, chunk it into simple, achievable tasks. Then you can celebrate the victory of that one phone call or research project.
6. Getting Everything Done on Time
Time integrity is important, and we all want to do what we said we would in the time frame we gave. But stressing over being a little late on a project, returning a phone call, or even paying your taxes is not going to help anyone.
7. Carrying a Few Extra Pounds
Maintaining an appropriate weight for your height and age is vital for your health. Obesity is a big deal and can lead to more disease. But stressing over being a little soft around the middle is not the way to be healthy. Find a balance between being careful with your diet and relaxing your rigidity. If your diet is mostly nutritious, an occasional treat or missed workout is not the end of the world.
8. Being Perfect
Relaxed people understand that outside of cake decorating and accounting, there is no such thing as perfect. We want to do our best, but striving for some external ideal of perfection is the short road to unhappiness. Learn to accept and even appreciate your quirks. Acknowledge when you have made a valiant effort, even if the end result is not what you had hoped. Revel in the imperfect perfection of every moment.
9. Having the Shiniest Toys
Your life will not be made better if you get the newest car or tablet. Having the right tools can support our work, and there is a certain joy in creating an aesthetically pleasing home environment. But if you are worrying about having the newest, best, and shiniest anything, you might be missing the point of life.
10. Trying to Please Other People
This is a tricky one, as a big part of our lives is our connections to other people. We want to care for and inspire our loved ones. But stressing about what people think about us just creates separation. And it is usually an illusion, as most of us are too busy worrying about ourselves to be thinking about other people. Even if someone is judging you, so what? You take care of yourself, let that person take care of herself, and get on with your life.
Stress begins in the mind. Life is only as stressful as we perceive it to be. While some things are worth stressing over, it is unnecessary for us to waste our energy on most of the things that worry us. Let go of these stresses and make room for more peace and joy in your life.