“Stress happens when your mind resists what is.” ~Dan Millman
A troubling thought, isn’t it? That most of us are too stressed out to even sleep through the night. You try to relax and decompress after a stressful day, but all you do is fight with your frustrations and worries all through the night.
As much as we’d like to, it’s hard to let go of nerve-racking tension. We get caught up in the notion that the world will stop turning if we don’t play our integral part. I know what a burden stress can be.
When I graduated from college, I moved to south Texas armed with an empty resume and two wildlife degrees. Most wildlife jobs are seasonal. Depending on what was migrating or nesting or being hunted that year, I’d move all over the country working three months at a time. No sooner had I celebrated my new position when I had to dive right into my next job search.
I didn’t have a permanent address. My home was furnished with whatever I could fit in my car. And I rarely got reliable phone service.
I was surrounded by breathtaking outdoor views and the wonders of wilderness. But all I could do was stress out wondering where my next housing and paycheck were coming from.
Eventually, I let myself enjoy everything I loved about nature. But first, I had to relieve the stressors that I dealt with. Here are a few pivotal habits that will help significantly if you’re dealing with stress in your life, too.
1. Do work you love.
Your job can be stressful. But not liking your job is different from not liking your life. It takes more than just an income to be happy and stress-free in your life.
After college, I thought that if I got a job doing something I liked, I’d never work another day in my life. But sometimes the work you love and your job are two separate things.
I love being outside. I enjoy maintaining trails and outdoor areas for others to enjoy too. It’s how I find solitude. But I realized that I wanted to do it on my time, not an employer’s. Eventually, I found ways to indulge in nature and keep up with the rigors of a demanding job separately.
One of the best ways to de-stress is to do what you love outside of your job. Whether you indulge in a hobby or a business venture on the side, enjoy the fulfillment of doing something that matters to you.
2. Take a toxicity vacation.
Avoid people and situations that inflame you. If you cannot avoid them entirely, take a break from them and decide later if you want to invite them back into your life.
Toxic people are like bad investments. They rob you of the hopes and dreams you worked so hard for. They’ve got a problem for every solution.
Don’t waste another minute turning into a nervous wreck over people who stress you out. Instead, take time to relax and de-stress around the people who show you the support and respect they say they have for you.
Clutter leads to overcrowding. There’s nothing more stressful than feeling like you’ve lost control of the space around you.
My friend Doronda stressed out over being alone in her forties. By herself in her bedroom one day, she got sick of doing nothing but complain about it.
She started cleaning the mess under her bed. Pile after pile, she sorted and trashed until she cleared out what she called her “marriage space.” Doronda wasn’t just tidying up. She was reclaiming her space and deciding to stop stressing over dating. Not surprisingly, she met a man soon after whom she still dates to this day.
Clearing away the clutter gives you a sense of expansiveness and spaciousness. When you feel like you have room to grow, you can relax and relieve stress around you.
4. Find your voice.
One of the worst ways to stress out is to hold everything inside. Get a creative outlet. Whether it’s through art, writing, dance, or music—express what’s inside you.
One of my favorite excuses used to be, “But I’m not a creative person at all.” Using that line absolved me of ever having to risk looking like I wasn’t perfect. But using that line also silenced me. It kept me invisible, like I didn’t matter.
Just because you’re not Picasso does not mean you’re not creative. It’s time to let go of the stress of feeling invisible and find your unique way to invent being heard.
5. Just say no.
Stop stressing yourself out with everyone else’s busy work. Trying to tackle everything that’s thrown at you is like trying to digest an elephant in one gulp. At the end of the day, all you’ve accomplished is swallowing an elephant.
Don’t worry so much about what you “should” do. De-stressing is all about saying no to what’s not essential for you and yes to all that moves you closer to where you want to be. Address your priorities and say no to the rest.
Life has de-stressed for me. I’ve enjoyed the same home for almost ten years, I’ve got a job that I love, and I run a consulting business on the side. It took some effort, but I finally subtracted what wasn’t getting me near my goals and added what worked.
Stress can rob you of your chance at happiness. When is that ever worth it? Do whatever it takes to practice a stress-free lifestyle. Wherever you get your income, fulfill yourself with work you love. Don’t put up with toxic people. Find your voice and be heard. You’ve got a lot of life to live. Why not enjoy it stress-free?