Saturday, May 9, 2009

How to Have Much Less Stress

During the past months I have been under quite some stress caused by unexpected difficulties in many areas of life. One by one these difficulties are being solved and my energy level is back to normal. When you are feeling stressed, one thing to do is to

Turn to your friends, family and mentors for advice!

While I was planning to write about stress, John Spence whose blog I follow, did me a favor and posted the outline of his stress workshop:

John Spence Workshop number one: Dealing with Stress and Anxiety

Step one: make a list of the top 10 things that give you stress, anger, anxiety and frustration in your life right now.

Step two: give each of the items you wrote a rating from 1 to 10. A score of one indicates that this is a stressor for you, but it does not really affect you too much - it is basically an annoyance, a nuisance. At the other end of the scale is a rating of 10, which means that this item is highly stressful to you and it causes a tremendous amount of frustration and pain in your life. Score each one now.

Step three: next to each of the stressors you have indicated, write either a “C” for the items you have control over — that you can directly impact, change or very strongly influence. Or write “NC” which indicates that although this might be a stressor for you, in reality there is nothing you can do to truly impact it. These are things like the economy, the government, taxes, other people… things that you might have a little bit of influence on but there is no way that you alone can dramatically change this issue. Be very honest with yourself when assessing each of your issues from step one.

The goal then is to have the courage and discipline to take massive control of the items you wrote a “C” next to and get those scores as close to one or zero as possible…AND… learn to completely let go, as much as a humanly possible, of anything on your list that you wrote “NC” next to.

It is the one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned: that the majority of pain, anger frustration and anxiety in most people’s lives… is caused by things that are completely out of their control. Even though there is literally nothing they can do to make any kind of significant impact on them, day in and day out they worry, stress and get angry over things that they should just try to put out of their mind and forget about. Learning to take control of what you can control, and letting completely go of what you will never control is one of the most important life skills anyone can develop.

Step four: Write out five specific and realistic ACTION STEPS that you can take right away to begin to take proactive control of the items you wrote a “C” next to. Hoping they get better, waiting for someone else to fix them, wishing they will go away on their own… not a good strategy. Getting busy on taking strong, positive control of them… a very good strategy indeed!

See also John Spence Workshop number two: The Happiness List for increasing the positive side of life while this stress workshop was aimed to decrease the negative side of life.

Now it is time to relax for the weekend!