We all go through our ups and downs during the course of the day but over the last few years it feels as though our lives have turned upside down. With so much uncertainty in our work, drama in the lives of the people we love and and the speed of change, it seems like stress and anxiety seem to dominate our day from the moment we get up to the time we crash on the bed at night.
As I learned to deal with the uncertainty surrounding my career, my wife’s new business and living in this life full of chaos, I learned some valuable lessons, particularly on how to deal with stress that I had felt so intensely over the years.
These lessons have helped me be more calm and stress free for most of my day. Sure, I have tough moments where I feel so much is on the line, but for most of the day, those moments don’t bother me as they used to. I sleep better, have more energy and have a more optimistic view about life. The uncertainty didn’t go away — I learned to manage it better.
Here are four ways to have a stress free day:
1. Bring back control . . . to yourself
At the core of our feeling of stress during the day is that so much of our life is out of control. We leave our home in the morning feeling stressed at the lack of control we have with our boss, our customers or our colleagues. We feel helpless as we get in line at the coffee shop and someone in front of us slows down our momentum forward. We get to work and there’s a so called “emergency” which forces our day to turn upside down or we’re given challenges to deal with back at home with the kids, which we didn’t expect.
The root of so much of our stress is our incessant need to have some level of control and certainty in our life — from the situation at work to the coffee shop to the circumstances at home.
By realizing that while we cannot control the chaos out there in so many parts of life, what we can control is ourselves. That we are the masters of: our own mind, the way we think and the actions we take. That’s the source of our freedom from stress — an innate ability to redirect our focus from outside mess to the inside mind.
We can’t control our boss, our customers or even our kids but what we can control is ourselves. Our own thoughts, our choices and our actions. This is where we ought be focusing our mind. By redirecting our attempt to exert control over the outside life to the goals we wish to accomplish during the day, we can begin our path to a stress free day.
2. Create certainty before leaving the house
Since most of our day is unpredictable, we need to create a sense of certainty before leaving the house in the morning. By getting up a little earlier and following some daily rituals, we can create that certainty.
Physically moving the body through exercise first thing in the morning does wonders for increasing the level of positive energy through natural blood flow. Meditation, prayer, reciting morning affirmations, kissing the kids, hugging our spouse or listening to upbeat music or an inspirational message on Youtube is a great way to create solid seeds in the mind which we harvest the rest of the day.
3. Soak the mind with balanced voices
So many of us encounter toxic voices during the day. Whether it’s colleagues at work, difficult customers, the overly emotional people in our lives or sometimes even our own mind. All these voices make us overthink often debilitating us from moving forward.
The good news is that emotions are infectious, positive ones as well as negative ones. Whether it’s smiling at the guy at the coffee shop or speaking with a friend or loved one during the day can break the pattern of negative voices, providing much needed balance in our emotional state. Turning off the news and tuning in to an inspirational voice on YouTube or a podcast can also help us balance out the voices of self doubt and stress during the day.
4. Take more action
Moving forward on a project at work, a goal to get more fit or making the call to a new customer, taking action makes us feel better because we get some semblance of control back into our life. For those focused moments of energy, we get to be in charge of our little universe that allows us the freedom to create, build and share the potential that we have inside of us.
It doesn’t have to be large scale action. It can be as small and simple. Make a call. Send an email. Write a presentation. Visit a customer. Brainstorm with the boss or colleague. Working on something deeply especially if we enjoy it, can help us reduce so much of the stress of the day. Action creates positive emotion within us forcing us to leave behind the stress that comes with overthinking and allows us to start creating a life that we want and a career we wish to build.
Ultimately, reducing stress is not necessarily about quitting the job and moving off to a faraway island (although that does sound appealing). It’s about recognizing that we do have control over our thoughts, our ideas and our actions. And that control is never lost as long as we look within.
© 2013 Bob Miglani, author of Embrace the Chaos: How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living
Bob Miglani, is an author and accomplished executive with a Fortune 50 Company in NYC for the last 20 years, grew up running his family’s Dairy Queen Store and came to America from India about 35 years ago with only $75 and the desire to pursue the American dream.
Through real life experiences in India, Bob has been able to bring a fresh perspective to the chaos that surrounds our modern life right here at home in America, which is the topic of his new book titled, Embrace the Chaos: How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living.
Bob writes and speaks about: Moving Forward in Life and Work, Getting Unstuck, Managing Career Chaos.