90% of the things we stress about each day never actually happen.

….Whoah! That’s a lot of stress. That’s a lot of pointless stress.

Can you think of anything you’ve let consume your mind and it never even happened? A lot of times I stress over not meeting a work deadline, however I always get my work turned in on time. Or have you ever worried that someone is going to be mad at you, and you replay the scenario regarding what you’re going to say to them over and over in your head? And how many times does it actually end up happening?

Why do we torture ourselves so much?! I think for everyone the answer is different. But the question for me isn’t focused so much on the why, it is more so focused on the what can I do about it?

Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And we can choose the way we wish to respond.

For me, one aspect that helps is to focus on positive stress. Yes, the term sounds contradicting but there is such a thing as positive stress- planning for a wedding, packing for vacation, preparing for a baby…The list goes on and on! And how wonderful are those things? So, for me, I ask myself what things am I allowing to consume my mind that are positively stressful?. By thinking about and recognizing those positive things, I start to get more excited about them!

Make a list. If I start to feel overwhelmed it is really helpful to write things down and out of my brain. Whether it is a to-do list, a shopping list, a list of reminders, etc…I write it on paper or on my phone. I literally feel myself exhale as I am writing.

Can I control this? This one is difficult for me. If I am stressing over something that is out of my control, I often let my brain be consumed by it. I have to ask myself if I can control the thing that stressing me out, and if the answer is no then I have to let it go. For example, I am getting married soon (yippie!). My wedding is going to be outside, and I find myself worrying about the weather. Can I control this? Nope! So instead I focus on the fact that regardless of the weather, I am going to be married that day. And that is the goal, after all, isn’t it?!

Find a reason to smile. This one is always important. Smiling is truly one of the body’s best medicines. What helps you to relax, smile, laugh, and have fun? It’s okay to take a break and breathe once in a while, and to include laughter in that break is ideal. For me, sometimes it’s not even about laughter. It can be just finishing up a tough work out and smiling afterwards because of how good I feel.

Know that you have done your best. At the end of the day we are exhausted, aren’t we? Sometimes things don’t go as planned or we don’t get everything accomplished that we wished to. But, we have to tell ourselves that we have done the best we can. And if someone else is upset with us because of that, that is okay! Some days, especially in social work, I have to remind myself that I have done my best. There are days that I may be the only one who recognizes that, but that is okay. You must know within yourself that you made the right choices and you have to be able to accept that.

Recognize priorities. Is not getting my laundry and dishes done today really important? It this really worth stressing over all day? Of course not! If there is a list of things overwhelming you, simply eliminate the stuff that does not need to be done today and focus on the important tasks that need your attention.

Will this matter tomorrow? A week from now? A year? Ask yourself if what is overwhelming you today going to matter in the future. Is it worth your time?

Just remember: It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it.

Dear Stress…I am breaking up with you, for GOOD.

Sincerely, A Happier Me.

-keep shining