Stress is something which many of us face in our lives, sometimes even on a daily basis. The stress that is felt can be the result of work-related issues or ones which fall closer to home. No matter what the cause, stress is a normal condition which will occur from time to time.

Stress can range in severity. If one experiences moderate stress in their life, they may just wish to deal with the stress as they know it is only temporary and will go away on its own. In the alternative, if stress is more the result of one’s lifestyle, eliminating the stress causing factors and/or gaining healthful insight on how to alleviate stress the right way might just be the best thing for an individual to do for themselves.

Defining Stress

There are many different definitions of stress. The definitions of stress depends strongly on the type of entity that is defining it. Regular dictionaries define stress as a condition caused by outside factors in the environment which can cause physical or mental results. Medical dictionaries usually define stress due to the medical conditions which can result from stress.

When Is Stress Problematic?

Stress is a normal thing for individuals to experience. Every individual has experienced stress at one point or another. It is usually only when stress becomes unbearable, chronic or severe when the individual needs to have their stress evaluated. Stress is troublesome for many individuals due to the fact that various illnesses and medical conditions can result from too much stress on too frequent a basis. If stress becomes severe or overly common, there are ways for the individual to alleviate such stress and move on with their daily lives.

Possible Solutions for Stress

One way to reduce stress is to eliminate the stress-causing event or object. Other ways to eliminate or alleviate stress are to exercise, meditation, aromatherapy and eat a proper diet. It is important that the individual experiencing the stress acknowledges such a condition and then starts on the right track to getting rid of stress-causing factors in their life or working to alleviate the stress through other means.

  • Identify what makes you stress
    • This is the most important step of all. Identifying the things that stress you out in your life is the first step towards eliminating them.
    • Take 10 minutes to think about what stresses you out during the day.
    • What weekly occurrences stress you out?
    • What people, activities, things cause stress in your life?
    • Make a Top 10 list, and see which of them can be eliminated, and start to weed them out. For those that can’t, find ways to make them less stressful.
  • Eliminate unnecessary commitments
    • We all have many commitments in our life, starting with work but also including commitments related to kids, our spouses, things to do at home, other family, civic, side work, religious, hobbies, online activities and more.
      • Consider each of them, the amount of stress they provide, and the value you get out of them.
      • Edit brutally, and take steps today to remove the ones that stress you out the most.
  • Procrastination
    • We all do this, of course. But allowing stuff to pile up will stress us out.
    • Find ways to take care of stuff now and keep your inbox and desk clear.
  • Disorganization
    • We’re all disorganized to some extent. Even if we’ve organized something, and created a great system for keeping it that way, things tend to move towards chaos over time.
    • But disorganization stresses us out, in terms of visual clutter, and in making it difficult to find stuff we need.
    • Take time to get things in your life organized, starting with your desk and the papers in your home, and moving on to other areas.
  • Avoid being Late
    • Being late typically stresses us out.
    • We have to rush to get ready, rush to get there, and stress out the whole time about looking bad and being late.
    • Learn the habit of being early, and this stress disappears.
    • Make a conscious effort to start getting ready earlier, and to leave earlier. This also makes driving less stressful.
    • Time yourself to see how long it actually takes to get ready, and how long it actually takes to get somewhere. You’ve probably been underestimating these times.
    • Once you know these times, you can plan backwards so that you show up 10 minutes early each time. It’s a good feeling.
  • Controlling
    • We are not the Master of this Universe. We sometimes wish we were, but acting as if we are is a sure way to get stressed out.
    • Trying to control situations and people cannot work, and only serves to increase our anxiety when it doesn’t work.
    • Learn to let go, and accept the way that other people do things, and accept what happens in different situations. The only thing you can control is yourself — work on that before you consider trying to control the world.
    • Also learn to separate yourself from tasks and to delegate them. Learning to let go of our need to control others and the situations around us is a major step towards eliminating stress.
  • Get more sleep
    • When  you do not get enough sleep, you may be more prone to experiencing stress and less capable of dealing with the stress in a healthy manner. It is important to get enough sleep each night so that you are ready to face the day and deal with whatever problems or issues may lie ahead.
  • Eliminate energy drains
    • If you’ve analyzed your life and found things that stress you out, you might have also noticed things that drain your energy. Certain things in our life just cause us to be more exhausted than others, with less value.
    • Identify them, and cut them out. You’ll have much more energy and much less stress. Happiness ensues.
  • Avoid difficult people
    • You know who they are. If you take a minute to think about it, you can identify all the people in your life — bosses, coworkers, customers, friends, family, etc. — who make your life more difficult.
    • Now, you could confront them and do battle with them, but that will most certainly be difficult. Just cut them out of your life.
  • Simplify life
    • Simplifying, of course, is a major theme of Zen Habits.
    • Simplify your routines, your commitments, your information intake, your cluttered rooms, the mass of stuff going on in your life … and have less stress as a result.
  • Slow down
    • Instead of rushing through life, learn to take things slow.
    • Enjoy your food, enjoy the people around you, enjoy nature. This step alone can save tons of stress.
  • Help others
    • It may sound contradictory to add more tasks to your life by trying to help other people (you’ve got enough to do), but if you were to add anything to your life, this should be it.
    • Helping others, whether volunteering for a charity organization or just making an effort to be compassionate towards people you meet, not only gives you a very good feeling, it somehow lowers your stress level. Of course, this doesn’t work if you try to control others, or help others in a very rushed and frenetic way — learn to take it easy, enjoy yourself, and let things happen, as you work to make the lives of others better.
  • Relax throughout the day
    • It’s important to take mini-breaks during your work day.
    • Stop what you’re doing, massage your shoulders and neck and head and hands and arms, get up and stretch, walk around, drink some water.
    • Go outside and appreciate the fresh air and the beautiful sky.
    • Talk to someone you like. Life doesn’t have to be all about productivity.
    • You should also avoid using online activity too much as your de-stressing activity — get away from the computer to relax.
  • Quit work
    • This one’s drastic, and probably too drastic for most. But in most likelihood, your work is your absolute biggest stressor.
    • Getting out of your 9-to-5, automating your income, and finding something you truly love to do, that you’re passionate about, will create a positive life and much less stressful one at that.
    • Give it a little thought before dismissing it — there might be possibilities here you haven’t considered.
  • Simplify your to-do list
    • I’ve written about this before, but attempting to do everything on your long to-do list will definitely stress you out. Learn to simplify your to-do list down to the few essential tasks, and you will enjoy the process much more.
  • Exercise
    • Exercise is a wonderful option for helping individuals deal with stress. There are various types of exercise which will aid in providing individuals with clearer minds and less stress in their life. Not only is exercising a good way to alleviate stress once it occurs, it is also beneficial for preventing stress from occurring in the first place.
    • Exercising helps relieve the stress buildup, it gives you some quiet time to contemplate and relax, and just as importantly, it makes you more fit.
    • A fitter person may be better equipped to handle stress.
    • Another important factor: being unhealthy can be a major stressor (especially once you have to go to the hospital), and exercise can help prevent that.
  • Talk
    • Stress is also something which may linger or become worse if one’s feelings are not properly expressed. The best way to do so is to have discussions with a friend or loved one and get all of the negative energy out of the body. For many individuals, talking about things which are bothering them is a great way to deal with stress and eliminate the stressful feelings in the quickest way possible.
  • Eat healthy
    • This goes hand-in-hand with exercise as a stress prevention method, of course. Become healthier and a major source of stress will disappear.
  • Be grateful
    • This might not be as obvious as some of the others, but developing an attitude of gratitude is a way of thinking positive, eliminating negative thinking from your life, and thereby reducing stress.
    • Learn to be grateful for what you have, for the people in your life, and see it as a gift. With this sort of outlook on life, stress will go down and happiness will go up. That’s a winning formula.
  • Meditate
    • Another great way to eliminate or prevent stress is through meditation. Meditation is a wonderful option as it will help an individual clear their mind which will ultimately help them feel better all over. When one is trying to relax their mind, body and spirit, meditation is the way to go as it works wonders for many individuals who try it.
  • Zen-like environment
    • Take time to declutter your desk (as mentioned above) and even once you do that, continually edit your desk and working space, and the things in your home, until you’ve created a simple, peaceful, Zen-like environment.
    • It will be much less stressful to work in an environment like that than a more cluttered and distracting one.