If you are someone who easily feels overwhelmed, then you’ve probably wondered a time or two how to live a stress free life. The truth of it is, a stress free life doesn’t exist. We will always be faced with some kind of stress, and stressors will change as we change, as our situations evolve, and as we grow.
Each one of us will also feel overwhelmed by different things. Where a cluttered home might stress me out, it doesn’t bother my husband (slowly turns and gives him the eye from across the room).
The secret to living a stress free life isn’t to avoid stressors completely, but to know how to handle stress before it gets out of hand. Think of it like this: what was something really amazing you wanted in your life that you had to work to achieve? Was it a weight loss goal? Was it going back to school, or starting a business? I am sure somewhere along that journey you encountered stress. But the end results was so worth it that you were able to power through.
So avoiding stress isn’t possible. Instead, it’s knowing how to deal with stress when it arises, and understanding the difference between a healthy balance of stress, and the kind that makes it almost paralyzing to move forward.
3 Secrets How to Live a Stress Free Life
Types of Stressors
If we’re going to commit to finding ways to reduce our stress, it’s important to understand the types of stress we may encounter, and then find ways to help overcome them. Our overwhelm can often be divided into four types of stress:
- Time stress
- Anticipatory stress
- Situational stress
- Encounter stress
Time stress occurs when you start worrying about time. This often comes up when we feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things on our to-do list. We often feel rushed, or that we don’t have the time to devote ourselves to a project, so we end up never giving 100% of ourselves to the things that are important.
Anticipatory stress is when we start to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. I also refer to this as “hypothetical stress,” or internal stressors. Similar to when you’re taking a shower and you come up with multiple scenarios in your head for a fight that hasn’t even happened?
Either we get stuck worrying about an event we have coming up, or we start worrying about how something may turn out, aka a hypothetical situation.
Situational stress is just like it sounds: it occurs during a situation in which we feel we have no control over. What’s going on in our current world climate could be a combination of both situational and anticipatory stress. Balancing what we’re currently facing with what the future holds.
Finally, encounter stress deals with the stress we feel around other people. This kind of stress can go hand in hand with feelings of social anxiety, or when we are put in situations with people we may have negative past experiences with, don’t get along with, or those we feel uncomfortable around.
Encounter stress can also occur if you’re someone who spends a lot of your time surrounded by other people. It might not necessarily relate to negative feelings, like in the first example, but more the energy of being in a situation where you are constantly engaging is social activities and can end up exhausting yourself from those situations.
Stress and Weight Loss
Stress can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies. It’s more than just the occasional tension in our neck and shoulders from anxiety.
It’s normal to experience a small amount of stress regularly, and some amounts of stress are the type that leave us feeling excited, alert, or motivated about something. Stress also plays into our flight or fight response, and is a mechanism to help protect us.
But experiencing high levels of stress for long periods of time can lead some pretty unhealthy side effects. Stress can start to present itself in physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, high blood pressure, chest pain, sleep issues, anxiety, depression, and more.
Effects of Stress On Our Body
Increased levels have stress have also been linked to unbalanced levels of cortisol in our bodies. Cortisol is a hormone that plays a role in how our body responds to stress. Cortisol is also responsible for helping regulate our blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, regulate our metabolism, assist in memory, and is linked to how our bodies hold onto fat storage.
What happens when our cortisol levels are high, is that we tend to hold onto more body fat, especially around the midsection.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight without any luck, while also being under high levels of stress, cortisol is probably to blame. Higher cortisol levels have also been linked to an increase in snacking, which again, can lead to weight gain.
Check out these red flags that could indicate your stress levels are rising.
Hobbies to Reduce Stress
Stress relief is going to look different for everyone because we all enjoy different things, and we all find relaxation through different methods.
Some examples of hobbies that have been known to help reduce stress include:
- Bike riding
- Yoga or Meditation
- Listening to music
It’s all about finding an activity that brings you joy and helps you relax. Exercise is a great form of stress relief, but if high cortisol is a concern, you’ll want to keep an eye on how much cardio you’re doing. Excessive aerobic activity has been linked to cortisol production, and the longer your cortisol levels are elevated, the slower it will take them to return to baseline.
It doesn’t mean you can’t go for long walks, or jogs, or runs to help reduce stress. It just means paying attention to the amount of time you’re spending doing those things, and making sure you’re incorporating other healthy habits into that lifestyle; lifting weights, giving your body adequate time to rest and recover, nourishing your body with whole foods, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, etc.
3 Secrets to Live a Stress Free Life (That You Can Do Immediately)
Regardless of the type of stress you are feeling, or the type of activities that help bring you a sense of calmness and peace, there are three major things that anyone can start implementing (immediately) to help reduce current and future stress.
Follow a Routine
Setting and sticking to a routine can be one of the most calming activities and help bring peace and order to your life. Setting a routine can help improve stress levels, decrease anxiety, improve sleep, and overall aide in better health. Your routine can kick off first thing in the morning, or it can be a routine that you perform at work, at lunchtime (like going for a walk), or even before bed.
Whatever new routine you’re trying to adopt, make it a priority that you’ll stick to it. Once you establish that pattern, it’ll be easier to follow each day.
Write it Down
You can implement writing it down in a couple different ways; journaling or utilizing a planner to help you stay organized. One of the ways that I minimize stress is by utilizing a planner. I write down all the important things I need to remember each day: meetings, appointments, project due dates, and then I also list tasks in order of priority.
Being able to see these things on paper, and crossing them off when I’m finished, not only helps me remember my daily action items, but it also helps keep me organized and feeling in control of what I have on my plate.
Another way to “write it down” is to spend time journaling. This can be a mixture of writing down things you don’t want to forget to do, things that are on your mind or bothering you, or writing down plans or goals for the future.
Check out this You Are Worthy Wellness Planner on Amazon.
Want to feel stressed in a hurry? Leave something until the last minute. If you’re a parent you probably know this feeling all too well: your child looks at you at 8:00 pm and tells you he has a project due tomorrow. And you have none of the needed supplies. Welp. That’s one way to kick stress into overdrive.
When you have something due, schedule time each day to get it done, and start immediately. Get into the habit of working on whatever needs your attention day one. It doesn’t mean you have to finish it in the same day, but scheduling time out of your schedule daily until the task is complete will give you a sense of assuredness and even give extra time for you to go back over everything to make sure it’s exactly as you want it to be.
This also goes for exercise or eating healthy. How many times have you put off starting because it wasn’t a Monday? “Oh, I can’t start on a Tuesday, so I’ll start next Monday.” But then Monday rolls around and another excuse lands in your lap.
Whatever it is you’re wanting to begin, start it today and quit putting it off. Trust me, you’ll be so much happier (and so less stressed) once you do.