On a scale of 1 to 10, how high is your stress level lately? If your answer is 6 or over, you may be struggling with worry, anxiety, burnout, or exhaustion, all of which commonly occur when our stress levels remain high for a significant period of time. You may find that sleep is a challenge and that your relationships are strained as well. In general, it may feel like life is just simply overwhelming.
If you want to feel better and be able to manage your stress as well as possible, begin to prioritize peace in your life. The hectic, non-stop pace of our lives leaves very little opportunity for peace. But without peace, we are unable to manage stress long-term.
It may be hard to imagine how you could possibly add one more thing to your busy schedule. But prioritizing peace in your life does not have to be extremely time-consuming. Below are some quick and easy ways to cultivate peace and reduce stress.
Avoid Perfectionism — Always do your best, but learn to accept that your best may not always be perfect. And that is ok. No one can be perfect at everything 100% of the time. Don’t be overly critical of yourself. Avoid the pitfall of thinking that you are either perfect or a complete failure. You wouldn’t judge others like that, so don’t do that to yourself. By giving yourself a break, you’re also giving yourself an opportunity for peace.
Avoid Procrastination — You’re super busy. I get it. But don’t put things off until the last minute if at all possible. We create an enormous amount of stress for ourselves when we procrastinate and then have to approach our deadlines in a frantic frenzy. If you’ve ever done this, you know there is no peace in this. Do yourself a favor — plan ahead, use your time wisely, and then you can trade the panic for some peace.
Take a Moment — When you feel your stress level rising and your emotions swelling, just pause. Give yourself a moment to think and to breathe. Ask yourself how you would like to respond to the situation. Use words you won’t regret. Give yourself permission to excuse yourself for a breather. Get some fresh air, take a few deep breaths, say a prayer, take a drive, take a nap, take a break, have a snack — whatever works for you and helps you maintain your composure.
Change your media — Watch a comedy instead of a violent movie. Listen to an uplifting song instead of a dark one. Watch the news, but don’t overwatch it. Avoid engaging in unnecessary social media arguments — instead, look for social media groups that uplift and inspire you. Be aware of what your spirit is being fed by the books you read, the music you listen to, and the series you watch. Find media that uplifts, inspires, soothes your soul, and brings you peace. But also unplug and give yourself some quiet time occasionally as well.
Sync Yourself with Nature — Nature can soothe our souls and rejuvenate our minds, but it’s easy to be disconnected from nature if we live and work indoors. A trip to the beach or the mountains or the rainforest might be just what you need from time to time. But on a normal day, it can help to just take a few seconds to enjoy some fresh air, the birds in our yard, or the smell of coming rain. Notice the beauty of the sunrise or sunset, pay attention to the trees as new leaves develop in the spring, plant some flowers and watch as they grow and blossom. In these simple things, there is abundant peace and joy.
As you begin to enjoy the benefits of peace, you may want to explore additional healthy lifestyle activities such as yoga, meditation, or massage therapy. Injecting some peace in your life where possible will help you manage your stress, guard your mental health, and feel calmer and more self-controlled.
Photo credit: Donald O. Smith, Illinois Photography