Have you ever felt that in every situation, the same feeling of stress shows up to overwhelm? Perhaps the actual circumstances are different– and whatever is at stake varies– but you find yourself in the same hamster wheel time after time. If this is you, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, and still find myself there.
You see, circumstances can change drastically throughout different seasons of life. But as we allow the same stressors to occupy our minds, they will stick around regardless of any physical changes we try to make.
Stressors are often self-induced.
Isn’t that the most frustrating part? There’s no doubt that we face very real pressures and challenges; but if you’re anything like me, you heap your own set of measures on top of the ones already in existence.
My goal lately has been to identify what those self-induced stressors are, and to let go of them. I’ve come to the conclusion that my mindset is composed of a number of unnecessary standards that only raise my stress levels. In the midst of a busy several weeks, I am trying to let these standards go.
So whether you’re stumbling through your Monday morning, trying to hold it together through grief or suffering, or biding your time as you wait for a transition, consider freeing yourself from any stressors that are already built into your mindset.
5 Common Stressors To Let Go Of Today
1) Rigid efficiency.
One major stressor for me is feeling like every minute of every waking hour has to be efficient. So efficient, in fact, that if I’m interrupted by anything at all, my schedule feels overwhelmed and fractured. I am learning that a rigid sense of efficiency is actually detrimental to my ability to take challenges in stride and continue being productive. If you’re a fan of efficiency like I am, consider what might be behind your miserly understanding of time. Be intentional– but not a scrooge.
2) Control over others.
Most of us would laugh at the idea of being able to control the behaviors of people in our lives. But based on our anxieties and emotions as we navigate those relationships, it becomes clear that we still wish we could control everyone. Control isn’t a bad thing– it just happens to have limits. The only person we can try to control is ourselves, while we can only hope to positively influence those around us. Letting go of the perception, and eventually the desire, to control others will lift a huge burden off your shoulders. Let them be responsible for their actions; and be responsible for your own.
3) Emotional immunity.
Another stressor I tend to wrestle with is the desire to keep my emotional experience under control. Whether my work day was full of disappointments or my frustration with a friend is growing, I often try to keep myself from reacting with copious amounts of emotions. We all struggle with putting our feelings in the right place– not to be ignored and trampled over, and also not to be made king– and this process can induce a good deal of stress. I’m learning to recognize, name, and fully experience emotion, even when I know I’d rather be immune.
4) Misplaced commitments.
This is the major stressor that most people like to talk about. When someone gives the advice that “sometimes you just have to say no,” what they really mean is that our commitments may be misplaced. Viewing your schedule as a reflection of your commitments can help whittle it down to the bare bones of the essential. I consistently remind myself that while I am committed to a myriad of things, I am more committed to a small handful of far more important things. Navigating these boundaries with nuance and intentionality is key to finding where some commitments require follow-through, while others should be dropped.
5) Ruthless independence.
I am currently loving the proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I’ve struggled with feeling stressed about doing things on my own– without even once considered asking for help or leaning on others. The humble 3-word statement “I need help” can make a world of difference when I’m at the end of my rope. Asking for help also keeps me from ruthlessly bulldozing the interests and emotions of others. In order to go far, we need each other. We need to go together.
The bottom line: identify the stressors in your mindset.
The most insidious stressors are the ones that are built into our frame of reference. We don’t question these standards because, perhaps they’ve always been there; and we allow them to dictate how we feel, behave, and prioritize. Recognizing these things is the first step. The next step is to willingly identify each time these stressors influence us, and begin to tell ourselves a new story.