All of us would like to be less stressed and more laid-back. Imagining yourself relaxing with your feet up on a sunny tropical island without a care in the world may seem like an impossible dream. Your day may be a constant struggle to get things done, please everyone around you, and stress about the smallest of things. You may want to be less-driven, but the pressures of life can seem unrelenting.
Although there may be little to do to change your circumstances, there is much you can do to be less stressed. To become more laid-back, it is important to realise what is causing stress and what you can do about it.
Not all stress is bad. Scientists say that good stress (eustress) is positive and motivates a person to continue working. However, eustress and become ‘distress’ when positive stress is no longer manageable.
According to a 2013 study, bad stress is when an individual feels they have too much to cope with. This can result in losing the fun from everyday activities. Negative stress can lead to poor decision making, being tense, unable to relax, irritable, and intolerant of any kind of delay.
When this kind of negative stress becomes too excessive, it can lead to anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems.
Some psychologists point to the fact that there are generally 2 reasons for someone being constantly driven. These are anxiety and working on autopilot.
Anxiety is different from stress because it causes excess worry about a situation or event with an uncertain outcome. This causes a person to stress about life’s ‘what-ifs’ and future events and prevents them from appreciating the present.
Living on autopilot happens when your life based on a series of routines and habits without consciously thinking about what you are doing and why.
If you feel the need to slow down a bit and take back some control, here are some useful tips.
First, it is important to take some time out to envisage how you would like to live your life in your circumstances. Of course, relaxing on a tropical island may sound perfect, but in reality, very few of us can live that way.
Your ‘vision’ could be something as simple as slowing down your daily pace, creating time in the day to take a break, or even just being less irritated.
This vision can help you set some priorities in your life to ease the pace. For example, spending time with family and friends is important to help reduce stress, relax, and take a break. If this becomes one of your priorities, then it will be easier to make time for it.
Being constantly driven can come from only focusing on what you should be doing, not what your needs or wants are.
Of course, we all have responsibilities in life when it comes to work, family, and other personal matters. However, mundane responsibilities shouldn’t crowd out what you want to do. It can also help to remember why you do some of the mundane things in life.
Doing this can help with your next step to de-stressing – switching off autopilot.
If you feel that you have no time and that everything is constantly hectic, try to recognize if you are working on autopilot. Throughout the day, get into the habit of asking yourself these questions:
Asking these simple questions can help you become more conscious of what is happening and help you switch off the autopilot.
Your life can become stressed if you are constantly reacting to situations rather than controlling them. It makes you feel less in control. Also, the pace set by others may be too demanding for you.
Take some time to plan in advance some of the things you need or want to do. This can help you prioritise important tasks and give you back at least some control. Along with this, you also should learn how to say no.
Of course, learning how to reduce stress when you have a lot to do is easier said than done. So, try to take a long-term view of your situation and slowly work at taking back some control of the many responsibilities you have to care for.