How to Reduce Stress

Don't Let This Happen to You!

For many of us, stress is a major enemy of work-life balance.  If we want to achieve and maintain balance in all areas of our lives, we need to learn effective ways to reduce stress – and even eliminate it.

Executive mentor Bobb Biehl says that as high as 85% of the stress we feel in life is caused by:

  1. Indecision
  2. Lack of control

I absolutely have found this to be true in my own life. What about you?

Stress from Indecision

I can point to several instances where indecision on my part has created a lot of stress in my life and the lives of others, and where indecision on the part of others has created stress in my life.

Sometimes, the fear of making the wrong choice paralyzes us and keeps us from making a decision.  Other times, we just delay the inevitable by putting off the decision until a later date.  In either case, the indecision causes stress in our lives and the lives of others.

Also, I’ve observed that I have sometimes put off making a decision because I didn’t think I had the time right then and there to decide.  But this thinking is deceptive, because in the end, it actually costs me more time to be indecisive than to just make a decision.  Huh?  How is that possible?

When I’m indecisive, the scenario keeps popping up in my mind, and I keep thinking about it, and the possible choices, over and over and over again.  And, if others are waiting on me for a decision, they’re frequently asking (or nagging) me whether I’ve made the decision or not – which again costs me time.

I’ve found it better to make the decision right then and there, if at all possible.  And if I can’t do it immediately, then I need to schedule a time when I can fully think it through once and for all, and make the decision.  That way everyone knows when the decision will be made.

Stress from Lack of Control

When I feel stress from a lack of control, I feel helpless to be able to change my situation, either because of decisions I’ve made (or not made) myself, or decisions that others have made (or not made) for me.

In these situations, I need to remind myself that I do have some control over some things like:

  • My actions that are required
  • How I’m going to respond to the situation
  • How I will treat others who are involved

One of the lessons I’ve learned (and need to keep reminding myself) is that I may not be able to control the outcome of a given situation (like the amount of income raised by the nonprofit organization I work for), but I can control my inputs (the things I do to help raise that money).

Stress from Clutter

As an aside, I’ve noticed in my own life that a lot of stress has come from clutter.  I’ve found that clutter is rooted in both indecision, because I haven’t decided where something (be it an email, a piece of paper, or something else) should go, and lack of control, because I sometimes feel too busy to take the time to put things in their proper place.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there is a high cost to clutter in my life – both in terms of the time wasted by trying to find something, and in the frustration and stress it caused.

I still have a ways to go, but I’m learning how to unclutter my office and life and enjoy more stress-free productivity.

So how can we reduce and eliminate the stress in our lives?  Bobb Biehl offers these tips:

When you are feeling stress, focus your attention on two very specific questions:

  1. What three pressing decisions do I most need to make?
  2. What three areas of my life feel most out of control?

Any decision you make or area you can get under control will bring an immediate reduction in your stress level.

Are you feeling stress right now due to indecision or lack of control in your  finances, career, family, or other life areas?

If so, following Bobb’s advice, can you identify the three pressing decisions you most need to make, and the three areas of your life that feel most out of control?

What decisions can you make right now to resolve that stress?  Could time tagging help?

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