Writing, journaling, exercising, meditating, or praying—I’ve tried all of these. Do they work? Absolutely! They take my mind off of the situation or person that is causing me stress and help me to clear my head and unwind. Yet I realized for me, each of these have only taken away 98 percent of my stress. I was missing the two most powerful ingredients that brought my 98 percent to 100 percent.
Ingredient #1: Really pinpointing the cause of the stress.
We all know the usual suspects: my job, my boss, the bills, the kids … But, what about these things are the root causes of the stress? Is it the actual job, or is it the environment? Is it really your boss, or is it the unrealistic demands your boss puts on you? Is it the bills, or lack of finances?
Ingredient # 2: Letting myself off of the hook. (This comes with a partner—EFFORT.)
Once I’d pinpointed the real source of my stress, do you know what I found at the bottom of each form? Guilt, or some form of irrational anxiety. In one way or another, I found myself feeling guilty about the situation causing me stress. My guilt was unwarranted most of the time. Other times, I felt guilty because I knew I possessed the power to rid myself of this stress. With my job, I realized the reason I was stressed was because I couldn’t perform all of the demands my boss placed on me, despite the fact that I knew they were unrealistic. When it came to the bills, I was full of anxiety at the prospect. Nothing was late; there wasn’t a lack of finances. I was just anxious.
It took an enormous amount of effort at first to remind myself that in some situations I was being irrational. It took an additional amount of determination to do what needed to be done physically to de-stress. However, it wasn’t very long before I learned to simply let myself off the hook. If I had done or was doing all that I was capable of with or in my circumstance, then I deserved a break.
Now, when the onset of stress arrives, I do my usual with my two added ingredients giving me the proficiency to definitively de-stress.