Learning how to live a less stressful life may seem impossible but with the right mindsets and habits, it’s certainly achievable.
A couple of years back, I had this notion that stress was a great thing. I thought that stress meant that I was being productive and working hard towards my goals. I thought that the constant pressure and the never-ending hustle were the only way for me to achieve success and finally be able to live a happier life. I believed that living a less stressful life was a reward that came after years of hard work.
It wasn’t until I found myself at the lowest point of my life, burnout and so unhappy that I realized that a life dominated by stress was not only an unfulfilling one but also greatly destroys your mental health. I’ve learned that happiness and success could coexist with a more balanced, and less stressful life.
It was wrong of me to think that constant stress is a necessity for success. It’s important to remember that living a less stressful life is not something that we can only achieve in the distant future.
It’s actually something that we can start working towards now. Small changes in our daily habits and mindset can have a huge impact on our overall stress levels.
It’s important to remember that while stress can sometimes be a good thing, something that can motivate us to grow, and overcome challenges, it’s crucial to find a balance.
Too much stress does not only affect our physical health but also greatly impacts our happiness, productivity, and overall well-being. I’ve learned this the hard way.
In this post, I will be sharing with you the steps I took that have drastically helped reduce my stress and improve the overall quality of my life.
Know that the goal isn’t to eliminate stress entirely (although, that would really be amazing, I just don’t believe that it’s realistic ) but rather to manage it in a way that doesn’t take over our lives and make us miserable.
I hope that some of these steps will resonate with you and help you start learning how to live a less stressful life.
How To Live A Less Stressful Life
1. Let Go Of Control
Are you also guilty of spending so much time and energy trying to control every little aspect of your life? I certainly am.
I have always been guilty of micromanaging every little detail of my life. I had this notion that if I could just keep everything under control and perfectly planned, then I would be able to avoid any problems and I could ensure that everything would go smoothly.
But of course, that wasn’t always the case. Regardless of how much time and effort I spent trying to control everything and predict every outcome, it still doesn’t guarantee that things will go as planned. This hard truth hit me over time, especially after facing so many situations, where despite my meticulous planning and efforts, things still fell apart.
Honestly, my constant need for control only led me to unhappiness and so much more stress. It just made me feel more frustrated and disappointed when things didn’t go as planned.
Because the reality is that regardless of how hard we try, there are still so many aspects that are just beyond our control. If we continue to spend so much time and energy trying to control everything, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointments and honestly, we are just adding so much unnecessary stress to our lives.
The best thing that we can do is to recognize and accept the hard truth that we cannot control everything in our lives. This doesn’t mean that we should stop planning or stop being proactive. It is about understanding the limitations of our control. It is about accepting the things that are beyond our influence and choosing to focus our attention on the things that we can truly change instead.
Learning to let go of the need to control every aspect of our lives not only helps reduce the stress and anxiety that comes from trying to hold onto that control, but it also opens up space for joy. It allows us to live more freely, to be more present in the moment, and to appreciate life as it unfolds.
2. Practice Self Compassion
Most of us are guilty of being our own harshest critics. I certainly am. When I was struggling in life, I thought that the best thing to do was to be tough on myself. I thought that by being my worst critic, I was motivating and pushing myself to work even harder, to achieve my goals and overcome my problems.
What I failed to realize was that by constantly beating myself up and being overly critical, I was actually doing more harm than good. Doing this not only diminished my self confidence and made me start questioning my capabilities but also made everything so much stressful and overwhelming.
Honestly, it felt like carrying extra weight on my shoulders that just made every step that I took forward so much harder. If you’re also guilty of being your worst critic, please know that you deserve to give yourself the same amount of love, kindness, and understanding that you so freely give to your loved ones.
One of the things that I’ve learned from hitting rock bottom is that offering ourselves compassion and being kind to ourselves is not being self indulgent. This doesn’t mean that we are being lazy or complacent.
Instead, it is about acknowledging our struggles and treating ourselves with care and respect, just as we would treat someone else who is going through difficult times.
You don’t have to constantly criticize yourself just to push yourself to be better. It’s actually the opposite. Being kind to ourselves actually helps us become stronger and more resilient. So, please stop beating yourself up and don’t hesitate to offer yourself compassion and kindness, you deserve it just as much as anyone else.
Learn how to start loving yourself more by taking this 30 day self love challenge now!
3. Learn To Say No
How many times have you overextended yourself? How many times have you said yes to something that you really didn’t have the time and energy for just because you didn’t want to disappoint them or appear unhelpful?
I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve done this. You see, growing up, I was made to believe that my worth and value were tied to my accomplishments and to how useful I was to other people. I took this belief with me as I grew older.
It didn’t really matter how exhausted I already was, I still said yes to other people’s requests believing that their approval was the only way for me to be worthy.
It took a real wake-up call for me to realize that by constantly saying yes to other people, I was also saying no to myself. Constantly overextending myself to others only led to so much stress and overwhelm. It drained my energy and ultimately, it didn’t leave me with any time or space for my own growth and happiness.
If you’re also guilty of doing this, please know that your worth and value are never tied to how many times you say yes to requests. It’s certainly not tied to other people’s approval and validation. Your value as a person is inherent and it does not diminish because you set boundaries or prioritize your needs.
I know that setting boundaries and saying no is not that easy, especially if it has already been so ingrained in us to always try to please others. It might make you feel guilty but please know that setting boundaries is not about being unkind or shutting other people out entirely.
It is about recognizing your own limits and respecting yourself. Please know that just like anyone else, you also have needs that you have to honor. Please remember that taking care of yourself is not something to feel guilty about.
Here’s a great post from Psych Central that’ll help you learn how to say no.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
Setting realistic expectations is an important aspect of learning how to live a less stressful life. When I was trying to improve my life after hitting my lowest point, I wanted to turn things around as quickly as possible.
So, I pushed myself to make all these big changes right away. I set all these high goals and unrealistic expectations, believing that doing this would somehow push me to work even harder.
I thought that by setting all these high goals and pushing myself to work non-stop, I would see immediate results. But honestly, it just made everything more overwhelming and just so stressful.
There were so many days that I felt so stressed to the point that it paralyzed me. Instead of actually making any progress, I found myself stuck and unable to move forward because I set the bar too high.
It felt like I was stuck in a cycle of stress and disappointment, where the fear of failing all these unrealistic expectations was holding me back.
This made me realize how crucial it is to set realistic goals and expectations. We have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s perfectly okay to take small steps and set achievable goals. Doing this doesn’t mean that we are not aiming high or that we are settling for mediocrity.
It is about understanding that true progress often comes from consistent, manageable efforts over time. By setting achievable goals and realistic expectations, we can maintain our motivation, reduce stress and overwhelm, and avoid the burnout that comes with trying to achieve too much too quickly.
This way, we can achieve our goals in a manner that is healthy, sustainable, and less stressful.
5. Practice Forgiveness
Learning to live a less stressful life is not only about building new habits, it’s also about letting go of past resentments and anger. I think it’s safe to say that forgiveness is not always easy. At least, this is what it felt for me.
When I was growing up, I was deeply hurt by the people that I love. I was made to believe that I constantly have to earn their approval to be worthy of their love. My achievements were never enough and my mistakes were always magnified. I took this anger with me as I grew older.
I held on to it thinking that by doing this, I was somehow protecting myself. I thought that as long as I held on to that anger, they wouldn’t be able to hurt me the same way again. But in reality, holding onto that anger was only weighing me down. It made me angry at the world, bitter, and easily irritated and it just made life much more stressful.
One of the things that helped make forgiveness even a little bit easier was understanding that doing this is not about excusing their actions or invalidating the pain that they have caused. It is about freeing ourselves from the pain of the past and finally giving ourselves the space to truly heal and move forward.
I know often the most difficult person that we can forgive is ourselves. If you feel this way, please know that just like anyone else, you deserve forgiveness too. Forgiving yourself is acknowledging that you are human, and capable of mistakes and imperfections.
It’s about understanding that your worth isn’t defined by your past actions or failures. It’s important to remember that forgiving yourself doesn’t mean you forget or dismiss your mistakes. Rather, it’s about acknowledging them, understanding their impact, and then letting go of the self-blame and shame that hold you back.
Forgiveness not only frees us from that giant burden that we have been carrying for so long but also gives us peace and helps us live a less stressful life.
- 15 Things To Do To Protect Your Peace
- How To Live A Simple Life And Be Happy: 12 Powerful Tips
- 10 Powerful Ways To Focus On The Good Things In Life
6. Start Your Day Calmly
Starting your day calmly is an important step in helping us learn how to live a less stressful life. Are you also guilty of rushing through your mornings? Are you often waking up to a blaring alarm, immediately checking your phone, and hurrying through your morning routine?
I’m certainly guilty of this. For the longest time, I would wake up at the last possible minute, giving myself just enough time to get ready and dash out the door. This frantic start set a negative tone for my entire day. Honestly, constantly starting my day like this just made me so anxious, and irritable and it felt like I was perpetually behind schedule.
When we are so caught up in the hustle of our daily routine, we fail to realize that this continuous cycle of rushing can easily increase our stress and leave us feeling drained before the day has truly begun.
If we want to reduce stress in our lives, one of the best things that we can do is to start introducing moments of calm and mindfulness into our mornings. This means creating a routine that allows us to wake up and face the day with a sense of peace and preparedness, rather than chaos and urgency.
One of the things that really helped me start my mornings calmly was allowing myself 10 minutes to meditate every morning. Doing this gave me the time that I needed to center myself, clear my mind, and reduce any feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
Another thing that really helped me was choosing to prepare for the next day the night before. Doing this, helped reduce the morning rush and decision making and this allowed me the chance to start my day more smoothly.
7. Make Self Care A Priority
I know how easy it is to take self care for granted. I mean, it’s easy to make time for it when everything in our lives is going smoothly, but when life gets hard, making time for this suddenly seems impossible.
When I was digging myself out of rock bottom, making time for my needs was certainly not on my mind. I had this notion that the best thing to do was to focus all my attention and energy on taking the necessary steps needed to improve my life right away.
So, I continued to push myself to work harder, regardless of how exhausted or overwhelmed I felt. It was a relentless cycle, the more I pushed myself, the more drained I became, and yet I believed that stopping, even for a moment of self-care, was a sign of weakness or failure.
However, this approach only led to burnout. I know that it’s easy to start thinking that making time for self care is a complete waste of time, especially when there are so many other problems and responsibilities that need our attention. I learned the hard way that self care is a necessity.
It’s not something that we only do when things are going well or when we feel like we have spare time. I’ve realized that self care should be a non-negotiable.
Self care is not only about occasional treats or indulgences. It is about incorporating practices in our daily lives that nourish our well-being.
It’s about creating a balance between meeting our obligations and taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional health. Know that you deserve to take care of your needs. We have to remind ourselves that self care is not only about setting aside large chunks of time for relaxation but also about integrating small and sustainable habits throughout the day.
It could be as simple as allowing ourselves 5 minutes to take deep breaths, or stepping outside for a brief walk to clear our minds. So, please don’t hesitate to allow yourself the time and space you need for these acts of self-care, no matter how small they may seem. You deserve it!
8. Cultivate Gratitude
Honestly, I have always assumed that practicing daily gratitude was nothing but toxic positivity. I mean, I know how easy it is to be grateful when everything is going well but when we are in the midst of struggles or pain, doing this just seems impossible.
When I hit my lowest point, I was grieving, I was buried in so much debt and honestly, it felt like every day, I was hit with one new problem after another. To me, it felt like there was just nothing in my life to be grateful for.
I’ve allowed myself to focus on all my problems believing that doing this would somehow help me find solutions. But over time, I realized that while it’s important to face problems head-on, it’s equally important not to let them overshadow every aspect of life.
Constantly dwelling on the negative was not only draining and so stressful but also blinded me to the potential positives in my life. It just made me feel more hopeless and defeated.
I’ve learned that gratitude isn’t about ignoring or belittling our struggles. It’s not a blind optimism that overlooks the realities of our situation. Instead, it’s about creating a balance in our perception. It’s about allowing ourselves to acknowledge and appreciate the good, no matter how small, even amid difficulties.
While practicing gratitude did not solve my problems, it did make them feel more manageable and less overwhelming.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that cultivating gratitude even in tough times is not about pretending that everything is okay and plastering a smile over our pain.
It’s about finding a reason to smile despite the pain, regardless of how small and insignificant it may seem. Doing this not only makes life less stressful but also makes it more hopeful.
9. Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is one of the best methods to help us live a less stressful life. When we get hit with so many problems and challenges, our thoughts tend to race to all the possible negative outcomes which ultimately increase our anxiety and stress.
This is where deep breathing can be incredibly beneficial. It helps us to slow down our thoughts, focus on the present moment, and reduce the physical symptoms of stress. By concentrating on our breath, we can create a sense of calm in both our mind and body, allowing us to approach our problems with a clearer, more balanced perspective.
When you feel like your thoughts are racing and overwhelming you, take a moment to pause and if possible stop anything that you are doing, find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes, and slowly inhale through your nose, pause for a few seconds and then exhale gently and fully. Allow yourself to focus all your attention on each breath.
Doing this not only gives us even a few moments of peace and respite from the chaos of thoughts, but it also helps center our mind and lessen our overwhelm and stress.
10. Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help
I have always found it so difficult to ask for help, even if I was already dealing with so many problems. I have this notion that since these are my problems then I should be able to solve them on my own. I chose to struggle in silence and I kept putting on this facade to everyone, even the people that I love, that I was perfectly okay.
One of the main reasons why I find it so difficult to ask for help or to let anyone know what I was going through is that I was so afraid that by opening up, I would be burdening them with my problems. I know that everyone has their own issues to deal with, and I didn’t want to add to their stress.
This fear of being a burden kept me isolated and honestly, it just made everything so much more difficult and stressful. If you’re also struggling with this, please know that sharing what you are going through, especially with the people who love you, won’t make you a burden.
They actually want to be there for you, to support you, just like you would want to support them in their times of need. We have to keep reminding ourselves that asking for help does not mean that we are weak or that we have failed.
I honestly believe that it takes great courage and strength to recognize when we need help and to actually reach out for it.
It’s a form of bravery to admit that we’re not invincible and to show our vulnerabilities. So, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. Know that life will always be full of ups and downs and no one is expected to navigate it entirely on their own.
It’s important to remember that learning how to live a less stressful life is not something that we can easily master overnight. It’s going to take time, patience, and consistency. So, please be kind to yourself during this process. Allow yourself the grace to make mistakes and learn from them.
Understand that managing stress effectively and reducing it is a journey, and like any journey, it has its ups and downs. But know that each step that you take, no matter how small, is progress in the right direction. The important thing is to keep moving and please know that I’m always rooting for you!