To live is to be bothered. Seriously, there is always going to be something taxing on your mental, physical, or emotional well-being. From something as small as an annoying coworker to something as stressful as a sick loved one, life is going to throw you curve-balls. Stress, or rather its byproducts, is a killer. According to the American Institute of Stress, stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40%, the risk of heart attack by 25%, and the risk of stroke by 50%. Stress is also the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease, and 3 out of 4 doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments. Those are troubling statistics. In order to live a less stressful life, you must be able to work through what’s bothering you. Here are six ways.
- Address what’s bothering you. This is the most obvious and the first step in working through what’s bothering you. Pinpoint the problem. If you can, that’s a great thing, because sometimes it’s difficult to even know what’s bothering us. Can you change it? Good. Make a long-term or short-term goal to do just that. There’s no point in dealing with what you don’t have to. Don’t like your work environment? Start the application process to go somewhere else. Simple? Maybe not. The best choice? Probably. Trust me, as someone who’s worked in stressful work environments, it’s best to get out. Period. Are you in a toxic romantic relationship, or even a friendship? End it. Will it be easy? No. Should you do it? Yes. Find whatever help you need to end the partnership, and determine how you arrived there in the first place, so you can make sure you never find yourself in the same situation again.
- Focus. This is important when you’re dealing with something you can’t change — particularly something of a more trivial nature. The focus I’m speaking of is on your personal goals, and what’s important to you. This gives you the opportunity to focus and work on what you can control. It’s difficult to focus on your annoying coworker when you’re left with little time, or mental energy, at the end of the day to squander on trivialities because you’re too busy bettering yourself and your life. For more serious issues you can’t change, such as an unexpected illness, instead of endlessly worrying or falling into a depression, focus on what you can control. This includes how well you take care of yourself by focusing on your mental, physical, and emotional health.
- Practice mindfulness. Believe me, mindfulness works. At the core, mindfulness is controlling your thoughts and emotions. Who can’t benefit from that? According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. This translates to identifying what’s bothering you in the moment, so you can address it in the moment. Before you react or think negatively, rein yourself — your thoughts and emotions — in. Let’s say you receive an email that you didn’t get the job you interviewed for. It’s easy to think of all the things you believe you did wrong — such as wearing navy blue instead of black, smiling too much or too little, not researching the company enough, appearing too interested or not interested enough, or worse, believing there’s something about you that keeps you from getting hired. Instead of entertaining these self-defeating thoughts and negative emotions, shift your focus to the positive. Ensure yourself that you did your best, but if there’s room for improvement, think about what you could do better next time. Make a list. You’re human, so if you still feel a little blue, write down five kind things about yourself. Do something for yourself like exercising or watching your favorite comedy.
4. Set Boundaries. This applies to dealing with people who are bothering you. There’s going to be different ways to do this depending on the person and the severity of the problem. In all cases, be honest, be straightforward, and be respectful. You don’t want to cause ill-feelings or escalate the situation. For instance, do you dislike your spouse’s tone of voice when speaking to you, or their spending habits? Address it, instead of letting the problem fester for years, or even decades. When addressing your spouse, state your feelings, concerns, and most importantly, your personal and/or financial boundaries. Then, work on a solution. Let’s say its a coworker. Is the coworker taking responsibility for your work, slacking off and leaving their work for you, or are they problematic in the way they speak to or treat you. Confront the coworker without being confrontational. You could first ask a supervisor to intervene or be a mediator. Pull your coworker to the side and address your concerns with them face to face. Be firm, be heard, and set your boundaries.
5. Practice gratitude. Gratitude is always a step in the right direction. If you’re dealing with regular day-to-day stress or a situation that’s out of your control, being grateful will always take your mind off your problems for the moment. As a lifestyle, practicing gratitude will change your outlook on life, improving your mental and emotional health in the process. Be thankful for what you have — including your family, health, job,gifts and talents, or whatever you can think of to be grateful for.
6. Try therapy. Is everything bothering you? This might be a symptom of a larger underlying problem — like stress or anxiety. Sure, life is stressful, but every small thing shouldn’t set you off. Perhaps you’re dealing with stress or depression, and finding a professional could help you handle life’s challenges more effectively. Are you dealing with a major life change? Perhaps therapy could help you adjust and cope with the difficult situation.