When we have a lot going on in life, things get stressful. Even if the busyness is enjoyable it can still lead to stress. And, when you live with chronic illness the last thing you need is additional stress. So, it’s important that we find ways to reduce stress as much as possible.
11 Ways to Reduce Stress
(whether it’s related to chronic illness or not)
1. Focus on one thing at a time – if there’s one thing fibro has taken away from me (and there are many) it’s my ability to multi-task. I have to stay focused on one thing at a time or I will completely forget what I was doing. My boss during my internship made the comment about halfway through the summer that he had figured out how I work, that I work in chunks. I knew how he’d come to this conclusion and he confirmed it – it’s because he’ll get a mass of emails from me during a short block of time, then not hear anything else till the next day. I can’t let myself lose focus, even so much as jumping over to Facebook to look for a specific event or post can get derailed in a heartbeat; if I so much as look at a single post I’ll forget why I went there in the first place.Stop trying to multitask - focus on doing one thing at a time and do it well. Click To Tweet
2. Don’t worry about controlling what you can’t control – I can be a bit of a control freak. But, I’ve learned that there’s far more in life we can’t control than we can. Sometimes, for me, trying to control everything comes in the form of trying to be in the middle of things. I don’t want to miss out, I don’t want to miss information, I don’t want to miss fun. But, the truth is I can’t be everywhere or involved in everything that is going on and I don’t need be. I just need to handle what is mine and leave the rest to everyone else.
3. Stop trying to change people – This is just another attempt to control what we can’t control. We think it’s because we want what’s best for them, or because we can see potential in someone that they haven’t seen in themselves, but the truth is that we just want to control them. You can’t change anyone but yourself.
4. Don’t try to fix everything – Sometimes my natural inclination to want to help people kicks into overdrive, whether it’s wanting to step in and problem solve for a loved one, or just help an idiot figure out life. Whatever the case I have to remind myself that it’s not worth it. It’s not my place. If I see a loved one struggling to solve an issue, it’s not my job to step in and fix things for them. It’s my job to support them and be there if they ask.
5. Relax in the fresh air – When my anxiety is really high I have found that the best place for me to be is outside. If I can get outside and just relax in the fresh air, it just lightens my load and brings a sense of calm I can’t get anywhere else. There is power in nature, even the trees provide healing.
6. Be Mindful – I don’t do long mindfulness sessions, I just can’t seem to get into it. The truth is I can’t seem to make myself take the time to really focus on being mindful for more than a few minutes at a time. But, a few minutes at a time spread through the day can really add up. Taking just a few minutes to stop and think about how I’m doing, what is my body telling me? Taking a few moments to just breath can make all the difference and help me get through the day.Stop and check in with your body. What is it saying to you? Click To Tweet
7. Check in with my schedule – It is all too easy for me to overload myself, to point where just looking at my schedule can be stressful. I’ll think it’s no big deal because if I don’t get it all done I can just move some things to another day. But, the truth is that just having those things on my list or my schedule adds stress to my day. My brain doesn’t really process it as things that I CAN do that day, it looks at that list and sees things that I HAVE to get done. It’s important that I look at my schedule throughout the day and assess if it’s realistic. But, it’s more important that I understand my limits to begin with and avoid adding too many things to my to do list in the first place.
8. Stay Positive – When I get overwhelmed and stressed out I’m more likely to start thinking negative. Instead of thinking that there was too much on my to do list I’ll think that I’m not good enough for not having completed it. I worry about whether or not I did things well enough or whether others will be happy with my performance (even when I know there’s no reason for them not to be). It’s during times of stress that it’s even more important for me to focus on the positive.
I’ve begun keeping a daily bullet journal of what I’ve accomplished. Every little thing I do throughout the day gets added to the list. Instead of focusing on what I need to do, I focus on what I have done and am able to feel more accomplished at the end of the day.
9. Stop comparing myself to others – There are others who can do way more than I can without even thinking about it, let alone stressing over it. They can work 12 hours a day and not be worn out (I can barely be awake 12 hours a day). In the end it doesn’t matter what others can do, it only matters that I do the best I can with the time and energy I have. I don’t need to work 60 hours a week (or even 40), I just need to focus, and to stay focused. It doesn’t matter what others can do, that others can do something better than I can, that their blog has more traffic, that they get more paid writing gigs, or that they are going on to finish a master’s degree. All that matters is that I’m doing the best for me in this moment.
10. Be Thankful for what is – There is much in my life to be thankful for. My health isn’t perfect but it could be much worse. My stomach gets upset when I eat way too many things, but there is still a good bit that I can eat without problems. I don’t make as much money as I’d like but I am earning an income. I have a wonderfully supportive family despite all of my setbacks. When I can focus on these positives and be thankful for them it’s a lot harder to be stressed out about the negatives that exist in my life.
11. Say No – I’ve been back and forth on this one so many times in the last five years. I get to a point where I’m doing a little better and I start saying yes again only to find myself saying yes too much. The more I say yes, the more I’m given to do, and that just leads to more stress as I try to juggle it all. It’s important for me to remember that I don’t have to answer right away. I can take a moment, take time to check my schedule, and to check in with myself before answering. Avoiding those instant answers is often all it takes to reconfigure and come back with the most appropriate answer for the situation.Saying Yes too easily is my #1 cause of extra stress. Click To Tweet
There will never cease to be additional causes of stress in our lives. The key is in how we handle that stress, but also in doing what we can to minimize our stress. By handling the sources of stress in our control, we have more room to deal with the stress from those things that are outside our control.
- 6 steps for coping with stress and improving your Fibromyalgia symptoms
- 4 Ways I Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- 7 Ways to decrease stress
- 5 Ways I Reduce Stress During Tough Times