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Day 24: Reduce Stress and Simplify Your Life

Posted Jan 27 2010 2:00am

Your lifestyle, and how you react to it, is of vital importance for your health (and even weight loss). I think it is safe to say that most of us already recognize the danger of excess and ongoing stress daily.

So today we are going to talk about how you can reduce stress and simplify your life in the process. A simpler daily lifestyle is usually one that is pretty low in stress after all, but still plenty abundant in happiness!

Fight or Flight, Not Worry All Day

We have seen how the body actually can thrive on “short term” stress such as exercise and even intermittent fasting. Our survival programming allow us to use short periods of stress to the body to come out stronger and ready to handle them again down the road.

What we are just not equipped (hormonally speaking) to handle is those stressors build up over long periods of time and still be able function optimally. That is the real danger, the chronic and ongoing reaction to physical/mental stressors.

Our body and hormones react to “fight or flight” in order to have us survive (raising adrenaline/HR/blood pressure/cortisol for increased blood sugar available for our muscles to use). It is actually a little destructive process that allows us to survive for another day, one that we can easily recover from and be stronger too.

But the type of stressors from long ago (like being eaten by something bigger than us) are no longer the stressors of today. That and now the stressors of today are more frequent and ongoing (with less recovery time that allows us to get stronger). Too much/too often and we just start going in a destructive path that can include loss of muscle/gaining more fat, lowered immune system function and other ill-health.

stress work Day 24: Reduce Stress and Simplify Your Life

Are you really "fighting to survive", or is just other less life threatening situations that are the real issue in your life? Remember that they are only as imporant as you make them to be!

The real question you have to ask yourself is “what are the real stressors in your life”? Are they an external condition we are forced to adapt to in our environment, or could it also be internally generated by our own perception of what is going on? If it is #1, then we can just either tackle it head on and get stronger or remove ourself from it. But if it is #2, then that is something we have to first become aware of and then decide to let go of whatever we are holding on to.

You do not Need to go on Vacation to Reduce Stress

I’ll admit, who doesn’t like to imagine sitting on a beach with nothing to do but watch the waves roll in. But unless you are really planning to move to an island on the next flight out, that is not going to help you much today. Even thinking you need a vacation is not getting to the real root of your stress reaction problems (remember: vacations are temporary and you will only come back to the same problems soon enough).

See that you actually have control in how you can “react” to most things on a daily basis. Realize it is not necessarily the people/things around, you but rather your perception of them.

For example, ever work one day and feel great? How about another day that week where you hated it and felt more stressed? So what really changed? Was there a deadline? Did your boss say something? The actual work you had to do may have been the same but your perception of the situation differed from each day.

Instead of thinking the only solution is to be sitting on a beach somewhere, start to look around and see what are you reacting to in stressful ways. Becoming “aware” of the real issue is the first step in knowing how to control your reactions/perceptions and make things appear/become less stressful to you.

Take Steps to Simplify Your Life Today

simple living Day 24: Reduce Stress and Simplify Your Life

Create your own peace of mind by removing the distractions and making a simple workspace/home. Appreciate (and accomplish) more with less.

One of the easiest (and most rewarding) ways to help reduce your stress, is to just get rid of all the complicated things that are adding to it. Do you really need more and more in your life to worry about, or maybe you could do with much less?

Learning to appreciate more and have less is the best way to free yourself from your own mind traps and be happy right now. Thinking you need something else just to be happy, is a bad state of mind to be in (as you will always be wanting more and more).

So time to just keep the most essential things around and start to let go (without any negative attachment) of everything else. When you drop things because you realize that you don’t need them anymore, you are free without any remorse/regret. You can use this approach to simplify your:

  • workspace
  • job/responsibilities
  • social commitments
  • house/furnishings
  • finances/spending habits
  • wardrobe
  • fitness plan/workouts
  • weekly chores/errands
  • toys and electronics
  • kid’s entertainment options

You don’t have to own or do everything there is out there, it is not possible. Just focus on less things that bring the most in return whether it be for work, fun or just your happiness. Keep it simple and productive, then you will be more successful in the long run.

Task for the Day: Relax, Remove and Simplify

stress relief nature Day 24: Reduce Stress and Simplify Your Life

The best way to really get "aware" is to go out in nature and just be at peace. Then everything seems to become much clearer without all the other distractions around.

If you don’t take action to either remove the crap you don’t need in your life or handle it, no one will do it for you. Simple as that. You are not a victim to anything out there. You have the ability to take some action to make things better or let go of them.

So here are some simple tips in which you can help take a break and manage your stress, become more aware of what is really going on and simplify your life the way you want to.

  • Take a walk/bike ride in nature – Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and relax. Best option is to get outside in nature. Make your exercise enjoyable! While you are at it, get down and give me 20 push-ups too.
  • Put your cell phone on silent for a day – Don’t check it that often. Notice how much you want to. If it is a real emergency they will leave a message, otherwise go on with your day without constant distractions sidetracking you.
  • Become “aware” of why you get stressed - Really figure out the route of the problem. Is it because you want to please the boss? Is it because you think you need more money? Do you not have everything you really need right now? Could you just care less about what everyone else thinks and do what you know is right? Unless you really understand what is the main issue of your stress, you will not know how to change or detach from it. Stress usually starts with feelings of worry, doubt and fear…so learn to overcome those and you are back in control.
  • Go to the library and read a magazine/book – They are free and you can just relax in a quiet environment for a while.
  • Meet a friend for a lazy lunch – Make a no cell phone allowed rule, as nothing bugs me more when hanging out with people who are just checking their phones for ongoing stuff. Talk about saying how much they like your company!
  • Unplug the TV/Cable – You can still see your favorite shows online like with hulu.com, but avoid wasting excess time channel surfing or all that negative news 24/7.
  • Spend less and enjoy more – Money is usually the #1 stressor for people, so learn to manage how you use it and what things you can do cheaper but enjoy them more! Don’t assume that it should always cost money to entertain yourself, as the saying goes “some of the best things in life are free!”.
  • Stop and take 5 deep breaths – Real deep breaths by filling up your diaphragm, especially when done outside in the fresh air. Inhale while slowly counting to 5, pause and slowly exhale to another count of 5…repeat 5x (just remember the rule of 5s).
  • Plant a small garden and take care of it – This is time well spent compared to just watching TV (and all the mindless eating and negative information that comes with it). Nothing is more rewarding that making something grow and getting your hands dirty in the process.
  • Set your mental focus on right NOW – Not on what has happened in the past or may/may not happen in the future. The past is gone and done, the future is only based on what you do right now. If you can’t change it in the past or influence it in the future, then stop worrying about it. Don’t look too far ahead and worry about a deadline, just know what you need to do right now. Trying to run a marathon by staring at the finish line through a telescope won’t get you there, but taking one simple step and then another and then another….will have you crossing the finish line. Life is a journey not a destination, so live it like one!
  • Reduce your commitments – Learning to say “No” to people/things is the best way to control your own life. Spend time doing the things you really want to do, not just because you are trying to make everyone happy. Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings by saying “No”, they will get over it. Helping someone is one thing, entertaining them is another.
  • Have a garage sale – How many people feel great after getting rid of so many things they don’t need anymore? I know I do. Force yourself to get rid of the junk and stop using the excuse “well what if I need it”. If you haven’t used it/worn it in the last year then get rid of it!

So remember, taking action is the only thing that counts (not having good intentions). Report back to the comments on what you are doing to reduce your stress in your life and simplify it in the process. Let us know and share your success stories to motivate everyone else out there as well!

More on How to Simplify Your Life

If you want more info, motivation and strategies on how to simplify your life, then click here to see these essential ebooks that I have for my own simple collection and you should too!

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