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Reducing the Stress in Your Life

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A few nights ago I was watching a show with my husband on TV about a chef in a small town and her adventures in bringing a fine dining experience to a small southern town with her new restaurant. The show spent a few minutes in the restaurant kitchen as the chef and her staff worked to debut two new dishes and it didn’t seem like anyone was ready for the level of work and uncertainty that this would cause.

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.

Kahlil Gilbran

Watching that show was just stressful. I don’t know about you, but I don’t watch TV in the evening to get worked up about other people’s stress. But it made me realize that everything in that kitchen that felt stressful was the thinking about all the things they didn’t know, all the things that could go wrong, all the ways the servers could mess up, and whether or not they would run out of the debut dishes.

As the episode went on, things happened: orders were not filled properly, some of the customers didn’t like the new dish, and they did indeed run out of the nightly special. But as each problem popped up, the chef and the kitchen staff and the wait staff dealt with it.

Some of the things they were stressed about happened, some of them didn’t, but the only thing that solved the problem was waiting until it actually occurred and then dealing with it. Worry and stress didn’t help. They never do.

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.

Lou Holtz

Stress is thinking about what still needs to be done. You can procrastinate and not start and just stress instead or you can be working on one thing but still thinking and worrying and stressing about the next one or two or five things that need to get done, or need to happen, or need to not happen.

Stress is a result of losing mindfulness. When you focus on the task at hand. When you DO the task at hand, there is no room for stress. Action and mindfulness is the antidote to stress.

Ways to Reduce Stress

  • practice being mindful during mundane tasks, like dishes or laundry
  • breathe deeply
  • put a reminder on your phone or your workspace or your bathroom mirror to do one thing at a time
  • set aside dedicated daily “stressing time”–set a time and spend a few minutes worrying about all the stuff you need to do, all the things you wish you could control and can’t and worry, write it down and when the timer dings burn or shred that list
  • slow down, you don’t have to say yes to everything
  • have a weekly device/social media fast
  • participate in physical activity, there’s no better way to get out of your head than to get into your body

Stress doesn’t need to own you, you are in charge of the thoughts in your own head. Don’t let uninvited and unwanted thoughts move in and sleep on your sofa. Just say no to multitasking and focus on one thing at a time.

What is your favorite antidote to stress? Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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