“Stress is the trash of modern life. We all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” Danzae Pace
On a recent holiday, I stayed at an island resort in an idyllic setting. Its private beach was dotted with inviting hammocks suspended between palm trees. This tropical resort was just the place I needed to escape from the world for a while.
I’d always dreamed of sipping from one of those tall glasses with a straw that can be seen in holiday advertisements. So I searched for a secluded hammock in the shade, then climbed aboard with a book, sunnies and my colorful drink. I was living my dream.
When we returned home from holidays, guess what I did! Yes, I purchased a hammock. We don’t have swaying palms in our yard. Nor do we have the sea and beach at our doorstep. But we do have a courtyard that looks out over our garden.
From time to time we’ve had young children staying at our place. Happy, fun-loving days sometimes turned into stressful evenings as bedtime approached. (Children, we find, hate going to bed even though they’re exhausted and ready to collapse.)
On one such occasion, that hammock sure was worth its purchase price. A gentle sway in the hammock followed by a bedtime story was all it took to send the kiddies (and almost the adult) off to bed dreaming of sugar plums and fairies.
ENTER THE STRESS-FREE ZONE
The soothing qualities of the hammock gave me a brilliant (I think, anyway) idea. This place would become my stress-free zone. When I have challenges to think through, barriers to hurdle or when I’m feeling I want to stop the world and get off for a while, I head to the haven of the hammock. If I take a book and tall glass with a fancy drink and straw, I’m transported back to the island resort. This is my special place. Here I can restore my inner calm.
Of course you don’t need a hammock. The Beach Boys sing about “my room” as a place where one could flee to when the going gets tough. Having a place of your own, wherever that might be, is so liberating. And let’s face it. All of us have stressful moments. They come in quick succession sometimes, too. But it’s how – or where — we handle them that’s important. Find your own place that you can escape to. You’ll relish the experience when you’re there.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST USE OF YOUR STRESS-FREE ZONE
Here are a couple of ideas, based on what I do when I’m there. I know I mentioned that I take a drink and get lost in a book, but here are some other ideas that I’ve found useful.
- Listen to music. Calming music is better than stimulating stuff.
- Regulate your breath. Breathe in for four and out for four to calm yourself. Then do some stretch-and-relax ooo–eee exercises using your smiling muscles. Focus again on your breathing for a few more seconds
- Just occasionally, eat something special. I keep some chocolate-covered magnums in the bottom of my freezer for such a moment. I enjoy every minute of my treat. I make audible yummy sounds as I crunch the chocolate, to physically chase away the stress.
CAN’T GIVE UP THAT SUPER-STRESSFUL LIFE?
Well, maybe I’ll convince you that you can. From experience, I know that a super-stressful life can be very difficult to give up, even though you know you should – for the sake of your health and the happiness of those you love. Since I made the break, though, I’ve been much happier in myself. I’m sure you would be too. I hope I can pass on some helpful pointers. I’m also hoping you’ll receive a big jolt from reading this post, and escape immediately to an easier, more rewarding lifestyle. Here goes.
First, why should you give up the stress you are addicted to?
- You’ll sound happier when you speak. Inside you’ll be more peaceful.
- Physically, you’ll look younger and your face will shine. You’ll have more energy.
- People will want to spend time around you because you are fun to be with.
- You’ll start to move more confidently in the direction of your dreams.
- Your brain and thought processes will become more creative. You’ll be making smarter choices and decisions.
Convinced yet? Need more convincing?
WELL, THEN, HOW CAN YOU LET GO GRADUALLY, IF NOT IMMEDIATELY?
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list. It’s just a few ideas to inspire you to put on your stress-free thinking cap, and ditch the super-stressful addiction. Read also: (How To Become a Better Man)
Use a reminder pebble
Carry a smooth, colorful pebble in your pocket or handbag. Every time you feel or see it, say one thing that you are grateful for. OR, if you’re not into gratefulness, just stop, sit and relax for a few minutes. Eventually the pebble should remind you that there’s more to life than rushing from stress to stress.
Learn to say NO. This can be a very difficult thing for driven people. It’s quite okay to decline to do something that might increase your stress levels.
Be good to yourself. Slow down. Use the 5/2 rule. Every week day, schedule five things that must be done. Do two things just for yourself. At the weekend reverse this situation. Don’t feel guilty about not working an 18-hour day. Look after you because you’re a Very Important Person
Eat well and exercise. Sleeping well is important too. Stress sometimes can lead to overeating and this in turn can lead to more stress. Enjoy walking with someone special.
As much as possible, be in the present moment. This is a great stress reducer. Be aware of what you’re thinking and stay in the NOW instead of letting your thoughts move back to the past or worry about the future, as they’re so successful at doing.
There you go. In a few words SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE.
SO, WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE?
That’s your choice. You can continue living in a whirlwind, day in day out. OR, you can make de-stressing a priority in your life. You might even try to find that island out there, with the palm trees, hammock and soothing drink with the long straw.
Living a stress-free life is impossible. Stress comes to us in all shapes and sizes and is just part of being alive. However, it’s our attitude and how we deal with it that determines whether or not we live a life that is happy, fulfilling and satisfying.
Where’s your stress-free zone? Leave a comment below and let me know how you deal with stress. It will be great hearing from you.