Ten Commandments for a Stress-Free Life
“If you were to ask a dozen people what the definition of stress is, or explain what causes stress for them, or how stress affects them, you would likely get 12 different answers to each of these requests. The reason for this is that there is no definition of stress that everyone agrees on, what is stressful for one person may be pleasurable or have little effect on others and we all react to stress differently.
The most commonly accepted definition for stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
Other definition of stress include:
Stress is the body’s reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response.
Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them”.
So, we are left with the question how should we deal with our stress?
Ten Commandments for a Stress-Free Life
The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.
– Norman Vincent Peale
Life is a journey and an experience. We have all heard that before haven’t we? Well, that is true, it is a journey and we have the opportunity to make it great or mediocre. The choice is ours.
Stress in our personal and professional lives is ever changing and constantly on the rise. Everyday we’re expected to do more and more with less and less – less resources, less energy and less time.
In order to master the ability to manage stress, it’s important to first remove one of the biggest obstacles that stands between chaos and calm – SELF.
Often we are one of the biggest contributors to the calamity and chaos we experience in our lives. Stress management is the recognition that life is all about the choices we make.
So starting today, choose to take control and follow these ten commandments to help you lead a stress-free lifestyle:
l. You shall not be perfect, or even try to be.
Think of how many things don’t get done because someone is waiting for the perfect time, place and circumstance. Working with perfection as your standard is both a mental and physical drain.
Lose the need to get everything done “perfect.” Know that it’s far better to accomplish a task at 85% perfection than to procrastinate and wait for 100% perfection.
ll. You shall not try to be all things to all people.
Whether you like it or not, others will try to put who you are and what you do into a particular category in their head. They’ll label you with one or two words and resist – indeed be revolted – by anything that breaks that mold. That’s just the way the world is, and it’s better to work with it than to fight it.
Trying to be all things to all people may seem like a great way to cast a wide-net. But really, it’s a way to turn people off. Being everything is equivalent in most people’s minds as being nothing. What can’t be categorized is likely to be rejected and forgotten.
In business, career and relationships, decide who you are and what you stand for in a sharp fashion. Try to summarize it in only a word or two for the area you’re focused on. This is a much better strategy than trying to be all things to all people.
lll. You shall sometimes leave things undone.
Charles Hummel, author of Tyranny of the Urgent, wrote: We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important. The problem is that many important tasks need not be done today, or even this week… The urgent task calls for instant action. The momentary appeal of these tasks seems irresistible, and they devour our energy. With a sense of loss we recall the vital tasks we pushed aside. We realize that we have become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent.
Overcoming that tyranny of the urgent and focusing instead on those things that are truly important is one sure way to propel us on our way toward a stress-free life.
The way to overcome this problem is to leave some things undone. And that is especially hard for those of us who may have perfectionist tendencies and are driven to excel. We want to get it all done.
The irony is that we will accomplish more by attempting to do less. The key is to prioritize and set aside those things which are not as important. Put your effort into moving those long term projects a little further forward. Then you will eventually be able see success in that area.
lV. You shall not spread yourself too thin.
Don’t spread yourself too thin or lay it on too thick. You really cannot be the best at everything that you want. It is better to be known for a little of something than a lot of nothing.
Don’t try to do it all. Find a couple of things and stick to those. Also organize your time well.
V. You shall learn to say no.
Learning how to say no can be hard, but it’s something that I feel can really help you be more productive, reduce stress and do a better job with the things you do say “yes” to. Saying no to some things can actually help everyone involved.
The bottom line here is that there are times when you simply have too much going on to stay productive. In order to keep moving towards your goals you need to know when to say no and when to push things off your plate.
It can be hard, and you may feel badly about it, but in the end you’ll be happier, you’ll get more done and the people you live and work with will actually be better off for it as well.
Vl. You shall schedule time for yourself.
If you have trouble finding time to relax, put it in your schedule. Give yourself one hour on certain days to do an activity you truly enjoy. Work on a hobby, do some exercise, go for a walk, or read a book. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you enjoy it. These breaks will help you renew your energy and concentration.
Adding non-work activities to your schedule will give you extra motivation and focus for the times when you are working.
Vll. You shall switch yourself off, and do nothing regularly.
Feeling stressed and unfocused? Try doing nothing. Or rather, try sitting in a quiet room thinking about nothing for at least 20 minutes, twice a day.
It sounds simple, even boring, but transcendental meditation isn’t just for mantra-chanting yogis or herbal-tea-drinking hippies. Maxed-out professionals are turning to daily meditation to lower blood pressure, prolong concentration, and crank up creative juices.
It helps me slow down,says Erica Kalick, founder and president of Erica’s Rugelach Baking Co., a 10-employee gourmet pastry manufacturer in Brooklyn, N.Y. Kalick took up meditation to help her cope after a personal tragedy. We run around all day, usually thinking about ourselves, she says. But if, for example, I’m pissed off at an employee, I can slow down and think about it from the other person’s perspective.
When you meditate thus before you start working on a task, your stress levels decreases and a great deal of clarity arises.
Vlll. You shall not even feel guilty for doing nothing, or saying no.
An all-or-nothing attitude is why so many people have so little success; we choose structured programs because they relieve us from making choices for ourselves.
And if you begin to make changes in your life with the assumption that any deviation from your plan will ruin it, you might as well not even begin.
Life is full of unplanned obstacles, distractions, and temptations. Your best approach is to prepare for them, keeping an open mind and maintaining a positive attitude.
lX. You shall be boring, untidy, inelegant, and unattractive at times.
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, known for her acting talents and physical beauty, recently took a bold step many of us would shutter at the thought of – she posed for a magazine minus make-up in a crop top and shorts. She posed for all the world to see the “real” beauty she is – a confident women who doesn’t definite herself by other people’s standards.
Chasing after beauty defined by others (media, family, friends, spouse, co-workers and others) is detrimental to your peace of mind.
You don’t have to look and feel your best every single day. Be bold and love the skin you’re in right now – crooked nose, warts, corns, receding hairline, wrinkles, sags, bulges and all. Appreciate your natural beauty and love yourself just the way you are.
X. You shall not be your own worst enemy. But, be your own best friend.
Far too often, we are quick as a whip to complain when we feel we did something wrong, yet we are not as quick to lavish praise.
Complaining about every little thing is very stressful and draining.
Starting today, make a point to praise yourself every time you have a positive impact on your life. Doing so will not only make you feel good, but will make a difference in a positive way and help you manage stress.
Remember that a stress-free life is all about choice – what are you going to choose today?
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