• Shuree Waggoner LMHC

10 Ways to Fix the Stress Levels in Your Life

Updated: Mar 1

When you become aware of just how bad the impact of stress is in your life, it’s almost like discovering a spider in your home. You want it gone – yesterday! You don’t want to live another second with it in your life, so you frantically begin searching for a solution.

There are ten easy ways you can fix the stress levels in your life – take it down a notch. Not every area of your life will result in the same amount of stress. Some will be worse than others.


But you can take a whole life approach to dial it down in all areas so that the overall impact on you is much less than what you’ve become accustomed to. Unfortunately, by the time you realize stress is a big problem, it’s going to be pretty out of control.

We are very good at ignoring minor stress issues – until they grow to be something seemingly insurmountable, and then we tackle the problem or let it overtake us completely.


#1 - Acknowledging Your Problems Openly

Until you admit what your stress factors are, you can’t adequately address them. Acknowledging them openly doesn’t mean you have to go tell the world everything that’s bothering you.


It just means you can no longer sit and hide the problems from yourself. You have to get raw and real and be honest about who or what is disappointing you and creating drama or stress in your life.


When you start on a mission to lessen the stress in your life, you first need to analyze it and see where things are faltering. Sometimes, you’ll discover a quick weak is all it takes to eliminate stress in one area of your life


Other times, you’ll realize that what you thought was a minor issue is really a major problem, which will need to be overhauled if you want to be rid of the stress and start enjoying life again.


#2 - Keep Toxic People at Arm’s Length

You may not be able to fix other peoples’ behavior, but you can determine how much of an impact they have over your life. If you identify people who drain you emotionally, then it’s time to set some boundaries and keep them away from you as much as possible.


This includes friends, coworkers, family members, neighbors and other acquaintances who overstep boundaries and infringe on your happiness. They may not even know they’re doing it, so if you want to inform them and see if they’ll alter their behavior, feel free to try.

Just don’t expect them to change Most people respond to being told that they’re stressing others out by getting offended, so sometimes it’s best to just distance yourself without a word of warning.


#3 - Increase the Amount of Time You Spend Sleeping

Sleep is an act that helps your body repair itself. You probably understand how your cells physically repair themselves during sleep, but this is the one factor that also contributes to your emotional stability.


When you’re running on fumes, it’s hard to think straight. Your mind succumbs to brain fog and you struggle to get through the day effortlessly. You don’t want to feel frustrated, so make sure you get the proper amount of sleep to help you battle any stress that comes your way.


Sleep should be done on a routine schedule. Those whose sleep cycles are all over the place often find themselves trying to stay awake during crucial moments when they should be able to handle life with ease.


Get on a routine where you’re going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Improve your sleep hygiene, too. Get good sheets – the kind that make you feel like you just crawled into a cloud as you rest your head on the pillow.


Have the temperature cooler when you sleep so that your body can fall asleep faster and you won’t toss and turn because you’re overheated. Make sure your room is dark and leave gadgets outside of the bedroom to prevent you from becoming a social networking zombie at all hours.


You’ll find that when you have a good amount of sleep, you wake up ready and able to handle the day. Your responses to stress will be quick and effortless as you navigate any and all chaos that others continue to struggle dealing with.


#4 - Ask for Help from the Right People

Not everyone can help you. In fact, some of the people you turn to for assistance might be causing more stress than usual. You want to go to people who can genuinely provide you with stress relief – and that doesn’t mean using others as a crutch.


When you identify a stress factor in your life, such as a cluttered house, for example, don’t simply turn to the kids and the family pet and rant and rave about messes and who’s going to be grounded if things don’t change.


That only causes more stress. Instead, find a solution that makes sense for everyone. If you haven’t approached your spouse to help with the household chores, consider making that a priority.


Just because he or she had a long day at work doesn’t mean they can’t share the responsibilities. If both of you are too overloaded, then consider the cost of hiring a maid service to come in once a week to pitch in and relieve some of the stress in your house.


#5 - Make a Plan to Attack Big Stress Issues

Some stress requires a plan of attack. You can’t just ask someone to do something for you or remove it from your life. Things like finances have to be worked on continually to ease the burden and the stress that comes with it.


This requires you to go over it with a fine tooth comb. Then make a large goal with smaller mini goals that you can achieve to begin feeling better about yourself. For example, a major goal might be to pay off debt.


But your smaller goals could be things like paying a certain percentage of the debt off, like 10% - or paying off the card with the highest interest rate or the lowest smallest amount owed on it.


#6 – Make Sure Your Career Is Providing Personal Satisfaction

Many people simply give up and accept that jobs might not be enjoyable. But you don’t have to live like that. Understand that you spend a large portion of your life working at your career.


If it’s not providing personal satisfaction for you, then you may need to switch things up. You should look forward to your work day – not dread every second of it. Your career tweaking for less stress might be something major or a minor tweak.


A minor tweak could be making a lateral move to another company in the same job, if it’s the company you dislike. Or, it could be moving up the ladder of your company into a different position.


If it’s a major change that needs to be made, then it might be something where you have to switch careers completely. That might require a rough patch of training or getting more education, interviews and starting on the bottom level – but think of the satisfaction you’ll get if you get to pursue something you truly love.


If it’s an issue with coworkers, then you have a few options for that. If you can distance yourself from them, start there. If you can’t, then you might want to address the problems directly and professionally.


If that doesn’t seem to work, then take it upon yourself to approach upper management to see what kind of resolution can be found. It may be a simple matter of who the employee will listen to.


#7 – Find Things That Distract You and Soothe Your Soul

Stress can be alleviated with distractions of all kinds. Every person is different, but sometimes it helps to get a few ideas of ways that you can get your mid to stop focusing on what’s eating at you and allow it to achieve calm instead.


TV shows, movies, or even online videos can provide comic relief and that battles the cortisol stress hormones that flood your system and make you feel down. Spending even ten minutes watching something enjoyable can help you destress.


Playing with physical items such as Play-Dough, kinetic sand, fidget toys or even that silly slime kids are making today all help you release stress and relax when you’re all riled up.

Music has a way of sending stress on its way. You can crank up the tunes that bring you back to your youth, or listen to music that’s calming and serene – and allow it to put you in a better mood.


A nice, hot bubble bath with a good book, candles and aromatherapy products can ease the stress of the day easily. It’s a nice way to end your day and let the worries melt right off your mind.


#8 – Get Involved in Activities That Make You Feel Good About Yourself

Serving others is a good way to take the stress out of your life. When you’re focused on other people, it’s hard for you to wallow in your own stress. You can achieve this goal by volunteering in your local community.


Some volunteer programs have you working with men and women, such as elderly individuals or children – while others have you working with pets that have been rescued.

There are also options for you to just spend the day contributing to your community doing things like volunteering at the library, picking up trash to beautify a scenic hot spot, or other things that get your mind off of stress.


You might want to start attending a group event such as a spiritual meeting or a book club. Both of these allow you to meet with others and focus on a topic that’s different from the stress you face each day.


You might want to get involved in a workout routine to make you feel better about yourself. Join a gym and attend a group fitness class where you get to know other like-minded people who also enjoy releasing endorphins (the feel good hormones).


#9 – Declutter Your Life for Clarity and Calm

Just walking into a house that is cluttered can be enough to make stress take its toll on you. You go to work and deal with difficult projects and people, so you don’t want to come home and have to try to relax amid clutter, too.


If you’ll spend one weekend getting your home organized, it will provide you with a way to unwind easily at the end of the day. Start with areas you’ll see first – like the foyer and the living room.


Then declutter the kitchen, your bedroom and bathroom. Don’t worry about areas like the garage or the kids’ rooms until you can get to those on a day when you’re not already feeling overwhelmed.


It’s not just your home, either. You might feel the clutter taking over at work, on your desk. This can make it difficult to tackle projects or focus on issues that need to be addressed.

Your car might also be an area where you need to clean up the clutter. If you’re prone to tossing junk mail on the floorboard of your car, or you leave fast food bags lying around, it can stress you out when you drive to and from work in a messy state.


10 – Pull the Plug on Projects That Cause You Grief

Sometimes we get overzealous in our quest to take on more than we can handle. Sometimes, in order to stress less, you have to say goodbye to projects that are draining you of time, money and sanity.


You may have to end the project for good or hand it over to a professional. For example, if it’s a home project, then you might be able to call in a handyman or lawn care professional to take care of it for you.


If you had high ambitions to plant a flower garden, build a brick mailbox, or put together a massive playset for your kids – but now it’s become a burden – ask someone else to step in and either help or finish it completely for you.


If it’s a work project, then consider delegating it to someone else in the office, or asking others to pitch in and provide some relief as a form of support for you. Don’t be afraid to barter with projects.


There might be something you absolutely dread, which someone else might enjoy – so see what you can do for them in exchange. This takes the financial burden off of you to outsource it, and helps the other person, too.


There’s no way to guarantee you’ll never encounter stress again in your life. It’s inevitable. But there are preventable measures you can take, and ways you can stay in control of how much stress you allow to enter your life if you’ll take advantage of these tips.

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2019 Shuree Waggoner LMHC, EmpowersYou Counseling Services, Poulsbo WA

206.465.2981, shuree@empowersyou.com

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