Stress and anxiety have many different causes and many different treatments. However, there are some things you can start doing to lower your stress no matter what caused it.
First, we need to understand that we live in a stressful culture. Most of us have competing obligations, too much to do and too little time to do it in. We also have to deal with technology, which often promises to help us do what we need to do, but in reality is one more thing that can and does break down. We are all in the middle of a huge cultural transition, and while it keeps life interesting, it also adds to our stress.
If you can, take steps to simplify your life as much as possible. You are an individual, so you will have to customize this simplicity to your situation. Here are some areas you can look at:
- Can you simplify your food? Perhaps this would mean making a two week revolving menu and eating some of the same things over and over. It makes it easier to go to the grocery store and easier to cook. Perhaps this would mean having soup once a week. Think about how you can simplify what you are eating.
- Can you simplify your clothes? Having fewer things in your closet makes it easier to do laundry and easier to put together outfits.
- Can you simplify your house? Can you remove some clutter? Your house does not have to be perfect or minimalist! However, we generally all suffer from clutter. Anything you can remove from your house is one less thing that needs to be cleaned, moved, stored, etc.
- Can you simplify your schedule? Even if you feel you do not have a lot of control over this aspect of your life, look again. Is there an activity you can get rid of or at least cut down? For example, we could probably all gain a bit more time in our lives if we didn’t turn on the TV or get on the computer for one day a week.
- Can you simplify your children’s schedule? I know you are trying to give your children valuable experiences when you enroll them in after school activities. However, being involved in three different activities may be too many. What if they were involved in one activity at a time? Children benefit from down time and time that is spent just “processing”. (We all do!)
- Can you simplify or adjust your expectations? Accept that your house is not perfect, your hair won’t do what you want, your friends are selfish, your spouse has warts, and your children are barbarians. Then you can be surprised by the good things that happen instead of constantly disappointed that real life is not living up to your expectations. Our expectations have gotten ridiculous.
That’s a lot to think about! I do not expect you to reorganize your entire life in a week, and you shouldn’t either. Take your time and look dispassionately at all of these things. You may be able to slowly create a new life with more peace and much less stress. Not being able to “handle” stress does not mean you are weak. The sooner we realize stress is bad for our health and relationships, the sooner we can take steps to make things easier for ourselves. That does not mean you are not strong and capable. It means you are pro-active.