Stress increases our pain. How many times have you heard that? How many times have I written that? I have no idea, but I do know that the words are true.
Someone sent me a really unkind reply to a request I’d sent them on Facebook that ended with a “maybe I missed your point.” They did. My simple reply “You did, but I’m not going to stress over it.” It wasn’t worth it. I had to choose to let it go or it could eat me up for the rest of the day. Similar things have eaten up whole days for me, and similar things probably will in the future. We can’t let these little things take our energy when we have real stress that can’t just be walked away from.
The truth is that we can walk away from most of the stress in our lives.
1. Be honest. How much stress do I create for myself when I refuse to be honest with myself and those around me about what is real, about how I really feel? I spend so much time wearing a mask and refusing to let them see that I’m hurting, or that I need them. When I just take off the mask and ask for what I need life is so much simpler and calmer.How much stress do I create for myself when I refuse to be honest with myself and those around me about what is real, about how I really feel? Click To Tweet
2. Trust my gut. It rarely ever serves me to go against my gut feelings. If I know something isn’t going to work out well, if I know something is likely to just create extra stress for me then I probably need to walk away from it instead of into the middle of it.Simple way to reduce stress – trust your gut and follow your intuition. Click To Tweet
3. Let it go. How much time do I waste spinning my wheels over thoughts that aren’t helping me? I allow myself to get wrapped up in little things, like today’s Facebook conversation. I know it seems like I’m more focused on it than I really am it’s just serving me well today to make a point. Sometimes to let it go I literally have to focus on the words “let it go” and keep reminding myself that it’s not important, because otherwise that one thing would be all I’d think about.
4. Focus on what matters. My health matters. I matter. My family matters. I can’t let trivial things (or people) distract me from that focus. I have to take care of me first, then worry about the rest…. and there’s a lot of stuff I don’t need to worry about at all.I have to take care of me first, only then can I worry about the rest. And, it probably doesn't need to be worried about at all. Click To Tweet
5. Remember to breathe – I don’t know about you but when I’m caught up in drama, stressed out, in pain, I often forget to breathe. At one point I had an app on my phone that would ding a bell every 30 minutes or so just to remind me to stop and take a deep breath (or three).
6. Practice Saying “No” – I come from a long line of people pleasers. We have a difficulty saying no when asked for help. I’m learning though, to say “No”. Sometimes I have to just look in the mirror and say “No” to myself just to remind myself that I can.It's OK to say no. Saying no sets boundaries and boundaries are good. Strong boundaries can greatly reduce stress. Click To Tweet
7. Be Grateful – No matter how bad things are, there are always things we can be thankful for. I have this one lone tulip that pops up in my backyard. I don’t know how it got there, if the previous owner put it there on purpose or if it got planted by accident. I always forget it’s there, but then when I see it pop up each year it makes me smile. There are many things about our house that I’m not grateful for, but that Tulip always gives me pause and a reminder of all the little things I should be grateful for, like that fact that I have a house.
8. Stop taking things personally – I’ve realized that so many things that I often take personally aren’t personal. When my husband comes home in a bad mood that’s not on me, I shouldn’t make it personal. He had a bad day at work. When that lady gave me grief on Facebook it wasn’t on me. She was obviously having a really rough time. When that idiot cut me off in traffic he wasn’t out to get me, he was just in a hurry.Very little that happens in this world is about me, so I need to stop taking things so personal. Click To Tweet
9. Keep Moving – Yes, exercise is good, but that’s not what I mean. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how small the step you take you just have to keep moving forward. And, now matter how big the setback, I have to remember that many steps forward came before it. I may have been setback 3 steps, but I’d already moved forward 5. I’m still going in the right direction.
10. Spend time with positive people – People make our lives rich, and as much as I’d love to hide from them a lot of the time and stay in my nice quiet home. I need people. As much as I need people I need to remember to choose the people I spend my time with wisely. I choose to spend time with people who are positive, people who encourage me, people who are moving in the same direction as me. Choosing those people reduces my stress rather than adds to it.
Stress is inevitable, but we can make choices that reduce the stress in our lives. We can choose to avoid people and things that add stress whenever possible. We can choose to focus on the bigger picture and keep moving forward. We can choose to remember that it’s not always about us and not let the little things get to us. We can choose to breathe and to trust our gut to help us make the best decisions without second guessing.
I’d love to hear from you about what you do to help reduce your stress. Please share a comment below so that we can all learn from each other and reduce our stress so that we can reduce our pain and other symptoms.
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Want more tips on dealing with stress? Get 15 Tips for Dealing with Tough Times for free.