If you’re looking to reduce stress, look no further than three Ls: Lower, Lessen, and Learn…specifically…
Stress often surfaces because we lack control. When we aren’t in control, sometimes having expectations helps us feel like we can achieve the outcome we most desire. Unfortunately, we uphold ourselves to sometimes unreasonable expectations, sometimes greater expectations than we would ever hold others to. So how would we treat a friend who was holding herself to unreasonable expectations? Probably with care, concern and a kind dose of reality. This is precisely how we should try to treat ourselves.
Remember that expectations are premeditated resentments. If we have expectations when we start the day and things don’t go as planned, we are setting ourselves up for major disappointment. Rather than expectations, try setting an intention for your day. An intention will serve as a way to guide and focus your day’s journey. Remember, intentions are simply a direction that you are sailing your ship. Things may change, modifications may be made, but with an intention you have a clear direction.
Another tip in lowering expectations is bringing mindfulness to your daily life. By practicing mindfulness, you will be more firmly rooted in the present. If you begin to project and get caught up in expectations, you may be able to slow down, take a pause and then notice that you are getting caught. This ability to slow down is inherently stress reducing, regardless of what the situation is.
Are there some nagging tasks that just never seem to leave your “to do” list? Are there some things that you just keep writing down in the hopes that you will one day finish, but try as you may, more important things keep popping up? This is how life unravels and happens. This never ending, incessant list can be a real stress builder.
So, one way to reduce stress is to lessen this list. Get rid of some of the items that keep showing up on the list but never get done…and you guessed it…take them off the list. If it seems too harsh to completely get rid of the item, then start a “Power Hour” list or a “Nagging Task” list and schedule time to tackle items that appear on either of those lists.
By freeing yourself of the stress of seeing the same items appear day after day, you may feel a little more free. Even more, by scheduling some of the items on the Power Hour or Nagging Task list, once a week or once a month, you can be assured that those items won’t be completely forgotten but you will not have to carry them around with you in your thoughts every day.
Remember: saying no to one thing can mean saying yes to something else. Most importantly that something else could be you! As educators we often like to be the yes people and take on any responsibility that people put in our way. We love to help people and come through in the clutch. Although this behavior may make us feel invaluable for a period of time, consistently saying yes can begin to wear us out. Being pulled in too many directions is one of the main culprits of stress.
So what is a compulsive, yes person supposed to do? Make a list of all the things you are responsible for and make another list of what’s important to you. If there is anything that you are responsible for but isn’t important to you, then you need to let it go.
One other important thing to remember is that if we consistently say yes, we are depriving others of having valuable experiences. Try to reframe saying no: think of it as sharing the wealth instead of shirking responsibilities.
After lessening stress by carving some time out for yourself by saying no, choose what you want to say yes to, embrace it, and enjoy every minute!
Hopefully these three Ls will help to reduce some stress in your life. Do you have any other sure-fire stress reduction strategies? Please comment below to share with the whole Teaching Well community!
Looking for other ways increase health and well-being? Check out this article on how to get a great night’s sleep!