In my coaching practice I have found that all too often we create our own stress by the way we think. Last week’s blog called, No More Stress, stated that the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.
Today, we are going to cover the four foundations of stress management that you can implement into your life today to take control of the stress in your life.
1. Take 100% responsibility for your life
All too often we want to point the finger at someone else and blame them for our lack of happiness, our anger, our mistakes, our crazy schedules. BUT in all honesty, we must first look at ourselves because the only person we have control over is ourselves. We can’t change others, but we can change ourselves and how we react to others and once we understand that, our stress will decrease.
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life and learning how to eliminate or manage that stress.
Here are some simple suggestions for helping decrease your everyday stress by taking responsibility for your life.
- Learning to say “NO” when you want to say no.
- You have a choice of how you spend your time. Spend it with people who lift you up, and who give you energy. In other words, avoid negative people as much as possible! If the people that stress you out are family or co-workers, challenge yourself to look for and focus on their positives when you are around them.
- Next, take control of your environment.
- If the evening news makes you feel anxious, turn the TV off.
- If all the political ads increase your stress, turn them off.
- If traffic gets you tense, take a longer but more pleasant route.
2. Live a life of gratitude
What we focus on becomes our reality. If we choose to focus more of our thoughts on negatives, then we will see and feel more negativity in our lives. Therefore, if we choose to focus on more blessings, we will see more blessings.
It is important to know that our brains are wired to think negatively, which means that it is easier for our minds to see problems than it is to see positives. But there is hope! Our brain is a muscle so we must be practicing and training that muscle several times a day in order to live a life of gratitude.
Here are some simple suggestions to get you started:
- Before you get out of bed, name at least 5-10 things that you are truly grateful for that day. Try to continue this practice throughout the day, especially during more challenging times.
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Read inspirational quotes or scripture to help keep you positive.
3.Tune out your inner critic
Your inner critic is that little voice that can fill you with worry and doubt. Maybe it comes out and tells you that you are dumb or stupid. Perhaps it tells you,” You look awful in that!” or “Your jeans make you look fat!” Your inner critic says things to you that even your best friend wouldn’t say. Your inner critic can also fill you with excuses that tell you when you can’t or shouldn’t do something. Your inner critic may be telling you that you are too old, too fat, too this or too that…. trying to fill you full of doubt and worry and steal your self-confidence.
This all creates stress within YOU…stress created by YOU.
Fortunately for me, I have learned to identify this nay-sayer that is always with me and have learned how to tune her out. This didn’t happen overnight, this started to happen when I learned how to become more in-tune with myself, through practice. Just like we have to practice gratitude daily we also must learn how to practice tuning out our inner critic.
4.VALUES + PRIORITIES = ALIGNMENT WITH EACH OTHER
Often times we feel stressed out because our life priorities are not in alignment with our core values.
Let me ask you some questions…
- What would you say are your top 3 core values?
- What are your top priorities in life? (How do you spend your time and resources?)
To understand the importance of alignment, let me illustrate with a personal example. My core values are faith, family, health and career. My life priorities are growing in my faith, family activities, exercise and my career. For years, I put my faith as a low priority and I felt a conflict. This conflict increased my stress, but I didn’t change. For years, although I wanted to be healthy, I used time as an excuse for not exercising. Although I felt guilty, I didn’t change. Lastly, I always said that my family was more important than my career, but my career all too often became my priority. Although I knew what my core values were, I wasn’t living them, which created stress in several areas of my life.
Once I figured this out, life changed. Now someone looking at my calendar would see that I start my day with morning devotions, next I exercise and afterwards my husband and I have a cup of coffee and start our day together. We do all of this before any of the kids wake up! By doing this, I have time to make them my next priority, and I feel ready to focus on my career when everyone leaves for school and work.
I hope that your take away is that you can upgrade your life, by eliminating extra stress, by exercising your brain, and by turning your negative mindset into a positive mindset. This has worked for me! This positive mindset will allow you to start living your life with true gratitude, help you take charge of our inner critic voice, and assist you in aligning your values with your priorities. Not only will this improve ALL of your relationships, but it will move you from liking your life to loving it!
Which of the four foundations of stress managements are you ready to start?