Are you feeling overwhelmed? I had a stressful week last week, and so today I want to share a trick that I use to decrease my stress.
Sometimes I think we could have designed modern society better. We always have too many things we should be doing and not enough time to do them.
With stress and long to do lists comes guilt. I’m not a doctor, but I’m guessing it’s not healthy. It’s certainly not cheering.
The most effective way I’ve found to get less stressed is to complete the things on my to do list. Yea, like that’s going to happen.
But nearly as effective is changing how I think about the situation.
I’ll show you what I mean. I tend to think things like this: “I should finish this project for work. I should clean the kitchen. I should put more effort into cooking and eat takeaways less often. I should go for a run.” Of course, I’m not doing any of these things, and in addition I’m feeling terrible about not doing them.
Read those statements. Do you feel the guilt?
Now try changing “should” to “could”.
“I could finish this project for work, but I choose to edit my book instead. I could clean the kitchen, but I choose to leave the dishes on the bench. I could cook more often, but I choose not to. I could go for a run, but I choose to play Skyrim instead.”
Is it just me, or is there so much less guilt now?
Every time I change a “should” into a “could” in my own mind, it feels like taking off an iron collar. Just that one word change makes such a difference.
The word “should” implies obligation. If I don’t do this I’m a bad person who deserves to have her toes gnawed on by rats.
But “could”? That’s just a fact. I could take out the rubbish. I could donate all my money to charity and go and live in a cave in the mountains. (Actually, that might be cool, though I suspect the wifi isn’t very good.)
The downside of changing “shoulds” to “coulds”? Chances are I won’t go for a run today (or go and live in a cave on a mountain). But I wasn’t going to go for a run anyway, and at least now I’m being honest with myself.
I’m not advocating never doing responsible things, I’m just saying decide which you’re going to do right now and let the rest go. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel so much better for it.
Do you have any tricks that help you deal with stress? Share them in the comments. If you’ve tried my trick, did it work for you?
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