A knot in your stomach, poor sleep, high blood pressure and a listless feeling, chronic stress sucks the life out of your body. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to immediately free yourself from chronic stress.
Chronic stress – a ball in your stomach
It may sound strange from someone who can organize their own timeplan and write about being happy – but a few years ago I had a lot of trouble with chronic stress. In fact, I’d been struggling for years.
I walked around with a kind of ball in my stomach. I was often tense. Sometimes I slept very badly. I even developed vague health complaints like spastic bowel, chronic hyperventilation and itchiness in rare places.
One time, I even saw black spots in front of my eyes during a round with the dog, so I had to sit down. It was simply because I breathed wrong (because of the stress).
The cause of the stress was far from clear to me. And the symptoms were not always easy to correct. With the help of a coach, a variety of books and trial and error, I banned my chronic stress two years ago. And in this article I share my tips.
# 1. Get a sense of control
If you feel that you have little control over your life, you will soon feel anxious. And stress is just an another word for fear. A stronger sense of control gives more restraint, more rest and reduces chronic stress.
For example, I am very creative. A nice feature, but also challenging. I can make myself crazy with all kinds of fun ideas and projects. I regularly took too much hay on my fork, so to speak, after which I felt overwhelmed.
Such overwhelming feelings cause chronic stress. And you can avoid it by:
- Keeping track of which projects, tasks and obligations you have on your plate at any time. If you see how much you have to do, you are less likely to add more work.
- Dare to make hard choices. Sometimes you have to cut projects and commitments from your life in order to progress. It’s sometimes difficult or painful, but you do not need to overload yourself.
- Minimalist living. The less business you need to keep an eye on in your personal life, the more clear everything becomes.
- To handle your things properly. Sometimes it takes time to search your finances, administration, insurance or subscriptions. But the time you get back with a more efficient life with less concern is doubled.
- Keep a diary. Reflecting on your days gives you more grip on your life.
- Clean your house. Less clutter gives you a calm feeling.
You do not always control your life. But you can develop a sense of control by organizing the chaos. And that feeling is incredibly valuable to make you feel calm.
Minimalism helped me feel calm. For example, you spend much less money, but your home and your life are well-kept.
# 2. Take more time to recover
When you work, stress builds up in your body. If you do not give yourself the opportunity to restore rest, chronic stress will continue to build up.
After an intensive workday you must be able to relax. Many people make the mistake of fully planning their lives with fun activities. I did the same. But if you do not give yourself enough time to recover, fun activities will be a source of stress.
Restoring rest stress takes time. Take that time. Give yourself time without feeling guilty. Just doing what you want.
# 3. Have realistic expectations of yourself
Perfectionism is a highway toward chronic stress. If you always think you have to do things perfectly, you will always disappoint yourself.
Perfectionism is often associated with failure. I noticed that too. I wanted to do things perfect or not do them at all. But because things can never be done perfectly, I was constantly running against it. This resulted in postponement, lower self-esteem and an overall downward spiral in productivity and happiness.
Live more with the right mentality. Throw your work in the world, even if it’s not perfect. Do it as well as possible and then let it go. In this way you grow faster, you feel less insecure and experience less stress.
# 4. Dare to be Yourself
If you feel that you can not be yourself, you will experience chronic stress. Presenting yourself differently costs a lot of energy and is a stressful activity.
Not only because you are constantly acting, but also because of the feeling, namely, “I’m not good as I am pretending to be. I have to pretend in order to receive love and approval. ”
If you believe you are not worth being loved then you do not want to show yourself. Then you do not dare to be vulnerable, and you will find it difficult to really connect with people.
This assumption goes hand in hand with perfectionism and with the conviction that people will only love you if you are more perfect than you are now. That failure will not only cause disapproval of your work, but disapproval of who you are. And this you want to avoid, so you never show your true self.
In recent years, I’ve done my best to become more myself. Not only by increasing my self-confidence (tip #5), but by making myself more vulnerable.
And right away that is also the solution. Make yourself vulnerable step-by-step. Every time you do this you make deeper contact. And if you realize this is going well, you will collect more courage to do it again.
# 5. Reduce uncertainty
If you are generally uncertain, your life will be very stressful. Because of the negative thought patterns I described above, your self-confidence will only decrease.
By working directly on your self-confidence – for example, using my cozy online course – you will reduce your chronic stress. You will learn to love yourself more. This gives you a stronger sense of control, making you less dependent on the approval of others and losing who you really are.
# 6. Feel hopeful about the future
If you feel that the future is getting worse than today, you invite chronic stress into your life.
The future is influential, but not everything is within your power. You can worry about the things you read in the newspaper (international tensions, wars, climate change, political disagreement, crimes), but you alone cannot change these things.
What you can do is draw your attention to your own life. You can focus on the things you can do to make the future better. By following the news less and spreading your love among the people in your area.
This has been an important turning point for me. I felt frustrated that I could not change the world as I wanted. Finally, I realized I could keep it closer to myself. By living as I want to live, I can inspire others to do the same.
Either way – Ghandi was right.
# 7. Live more in your body, less in your mind
Your brain is a tool, it’s not your consciousness.
Many people are sinking in their minds all day. It does not only cost a lot of energy, it also causes chronic stress.
Continuous thinking is not healthy. And constantly stimulating your brain with information makes you restless and unhappy.
Take more time to simply ‘be’ and move your attention to the moment. Just meditate, use a mindfulness app or just do nothing.
Nowadays I leave my smartphone in my pocket when I’m on the train. We threw the television out and I want to meditate more often. It is always better for me to think less and to be more.
In the beginning it is difficult ’for sure. And it often feels useless. But after a few days, you really notice the difference. You start to notice that your head become calmer and your mind becomes sharper. And you begin to realize that you have thoughts and not that you are in your thoughts.