With the advent of the Internet, Dr. Phil show, and EZ checkout lines, you’d think that our lives would become easier and simpler. However, we know that’s just not the case. Instead, it seems that the more technologically and psychologically advanced we become, the more we battle increasing rates of stress, complexity, overload, debt, and meaninglessness.
So how can we protect ourselves from the mayhem? How can we safeguard ourselves from burnout and exhaustion? How can we stay centered?
Here are five suggestions that may ease the demons in your life and help you find some of that much desired solace:
- Value simplicity – Sometimes less is more. And sometimes you can go farther just by slowing down. Easier said than done though, right? With the extraordinary demands our society imposes, it might seem impossible to cut the clutter, ease the pace, and de-complicate your life. But let me assure you, IT IS POSSIBLE! You may just need to adjust your philosophy a little. Sure, we live in a culture that exalts being overworked, being in debt up to your ears, and being unreasonably interconnected to everybody and their brother, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be that way, too. It’s your choice. Understand, the more wicks you burn, the less candle you can handle. Learn to be content with less “stuff” and to limit your energies so you can focus on the things that matter most.
Also, on a side note, just because the technology is out there, doesn’t mean that you absolutely must have it or that you must always employ it when you do have it. Restrain the impulse to get every gadget under the sun that promises to save you time and provide you that extra convenience. In most cases, they don’t work.
- Defend your boundaries – When you feel the onslaught of demands encroaching, defend your boundaries against the turmoil they can cause you and your family. Lay ground rules. Establish a “No Exceptions” policy. Schedule family nights. Turn off the phone during dinner time. Learn to say “No” when it’s appropriate. Don’t compromise your sanity or your family’s well-being for the sake of unnecessary interruptions and demands. Learn to disarm whatever is stealing your time. Prioritize your values and then protect them vigorously.
- Limit negatives – First of all, stop the negative self-talk. It only brings you down, not up. And stop hanging around those other negative people, too. When you perpetually subject yourself to negative environments – meaning unproductive, destructive, and menacing atmospheres – you set yourself up for stress. Studies show that listening to negative talk – whether it’s coming from yourself or from others – can cause you to perceive things as more stressful. On the other hand, putting a stop to negative thoughts, talk, and environments and creating or inhabiting positive atmospheres can reduce stress and empower you.
- Establish stability zones – Define a place, time, or activity where you can stabilize the chaos. Sometimes a moment of meditation can calm the fiercest storms. How about a walk in the park? Or a round of golf? People generally benefit greatly from having areas in their lives that they can rely on for the protection of their mind and spirit. Maybe it’s a prayer closet, talking with a friend, turning off the radio, or taking a much needed nap. Find whatever it is that can bring you back to normal when the stress levels get high. Take time to breathe. Take time to concentrate. Take time to clear your head. Sometimes it’s these little things that help you put more control in your life.
- Decrease your debt – You will NEVER experience the freedom you desire if you do not get a handle on your debt. As you may already know, debt is a noose that will choke the life out of you. Yet, often we’re unwilling to search deep enough into our anxiety to really find the root of the problem, which, many times, leads to our dismal money situation. Start being honest with yourself and stop digging yourself deeper. Resist giving in to the consumptive lifestyle, avoid impulse buying, and establish a plan to stabilize your checkbook. If necessary, de-accumulate. Realize, everything we own also owns us, insomuch that each possession we acquire must be cared for, maintained, and paid for. Shed some of this weight and you will experience liberation from much of the stress you battle.