How to ‘stress less’

How to stress less

A few years ago I wrote this post about ‘finding my funny’.  It celebrated the return of my sense of humour – my ability to genuinely laugh out loud (as opposed to a forced half-smile).

I think when I wrote A Manifesto for a Simple Life, that particular post was what prompted the ‘laugh more’ part of the line ‘Stress less, laugh more’.

But what about the ‘stress less’ part? How exactly do you do that? Especially when there’s a bit going on in your life and/or you’re an anxious person (like me!).

As always, I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers – but I can share that what works for me is this:

I have a very good understanding of what triggers stress for me … so I try to address those triggers rather than simply trying to ‘feel less stressed’.

For instance, three things in life guaranteed to trigger stress for me are:

1. Rushing.
2. Feeling like I’m not meeting someone’s expectations.
3. Money (ie lack of).

How do I address these triggers?

1. Rushing – I say ‘no’ much more these days to ensure the things I commit to are realistic. (When they’re not realistic I quickly find myself drowning in contingencies and rushing madly from one thing to another. This has become an easy trigger to manage!)

2. Expectations – before I commit to something for someone, I either get them to tell me very clearly what their expectations are, or, in the absence of this, I tell them what they can expect from me. Meeting expectations has never been a problem for me – it’s more when expectations are poorly defined that I start to stress about not measuring up!

3. Money – mostly I manage this by ensuring we live within our means. But we also have great financial advisors who regularly run our household’s numbers and ensure that we have ‘enough’.

And ultimately, I think it’s that concept of ‘enough’ that underpins stress for so many of us. So much of life is spent in the pursuit of ‘more’ and ‘better’ that, sometimes, all we need to do to feel less stressed is to take a step back for a second and realise that we already have ‘enough’.

And that we, ourselves, are ‘enough’.

What about you? Do you have any sure-fire methods for managing stress?