How to Kill Off the Stress That Is Killing You

I saw a sign the other day that stopped me dead in my tracks.  It said, “The man who works from 8 to 8 every day will be both very successful and fondly remembered by his widow’s next husband.”

 Of course, the same thing could be said about the woman who works from 8 to 8 every day. 

Being overworked, overstressed, and out of balance is gender neutral.  And it takes a huge toll on our physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual health.  

Maybe you’re feeling too much stress at home.  Or too much stress on the job. Maybe you’re feeling pressured to do more and more.  You may even be wondering whether it’s worth it. After all, no tombstone ever read, “He was #1 in the region six years in a row.”

Well I have good news for you.  The same news I tell the people who register for my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience: “You can’t stop the challenges from coming into your life, but you can certainly stop them from ruining your life.”

Here are three tips that will help you start the new year off in the right direction.

1.  Choose the live-it-now approach.

If you take the wrong approach to your stress and unbalanced life, you may lose or miss your life. 

As one man in hospice told me, “I spent the last 50 years of my life getting ready to really live and now I have no time.”

I felt so sad for him. He had let the stresses of life distract him from life itself.  He had taken the getting-ready-to-live approach.

Then I read an entry in another man’s journal. He wrote, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life! But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business — time to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. One day it dawned on me that these obstacles WERE my life.”

The second man woke up and started taking the live-it-now approach.  He started to live each day to the fullest and not wait until everything was perfect to start living.

In my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program, I teach the 12 keys to extraordinary living, work and relationships, and work-life balance (or the live-it-now approach) is one of those 12 keys.  I urge you to attend the LAST public offering of my Journey on April 23-24, 2020 in the Midwest area … which will be in St. Louis.

And right now you are eligible for the Super Early-Early Bird Special that saves you $600 on tuition.  Click here to register or get more information.

2.  Slow down.

It’s tough to do. It’s tough to slow down when the whole world is telling you to hurry up. I know. I often talk too fast, eat too fast, and walk too fast. But we can all benefit from occasionally slowing down.

The child psychologist David L. Weatherford tried to drive that point home in his poem called Slow Dance.  Take a moment to reflect on how it might apply to your life. 

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

 Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

 Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

 You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

 When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

 When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

Don’t miss your life. And don’t lose your peace of mind. Slow down once in a while. 

3.  Seek silence.

Power comes from quietness. Classic author Thomas Carlyle wrote that silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves. And physicist Albert Einstein once commented that he got his best ideas in the morning while quietly shaving.

If silence and quietness are not a part of your daily regimen, start by making time for quiet. It’s the ultimate luxury and necessity in our busy, time-crunched lives.

One of my clients, an incredibly busy and successful executive, is full of energy as well as an amazing calmness. I asked him how he accomplished so much but also seemed so at ease. He said he learned a long time ago to begin and end each day in silence. By beginning and ending each day peacefully, he said everything in between remained under control.

For some of you, a simple retreat into silence will be all you need. That alone will slow you down and restore your peace of mind.

Others of you will need more of a routine. If you fall into that category, try this.

Sit in a comfortable chair, letting your body sink into the chair, getting as relaxed as possible. Then with your eyes closed, think of your mind as the surface of a lake that is tossed and turned by the waves and the wind. Let the waves subside and the wind cease. Begin to see the surface of the lake as calm and peaceful.

Then select and repeat three or four words of peace. Select words like “tranquility,” “serenity,” “peaceful,” and “calm.” Say these words to yourself slowly, quietly, over and over again. You’ll begin to experience the healing effect of the words. The more you say them, the more you’ll feel them.

Like I said, you can’t stop the challenges from coming into your life, but you can certainly stop them from ruining your life.

Happy New Year!!!