But you know what? I've found an even better strategy for reducing stress. Prevention. We can do yoga for half our day, meditate every morning, and stretch every tense muscle to the max, but if we're not willing to make some simple lifestyle changes necessary to help us not get so stressed out in the first place, we're fighting a losing battle. Believe me. I've done it.
Not interested? Fine. Just keep right on doing these things:
|Photo by Seth Workheiser, used with Creative Commons license|
1. Pack your calendar full of work, meetings, parties, dinner dates, coffee dates, play dates, and family obligations, and never leave yourself one second of spontaneous do-whatever-the-hell-I-want-to time.
2. Be so laid back and adverse to planning that you put nothing on your calendar. Instead you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, and realize 2 hours before your deadline that you haven't even started ___(fill in the blank)___ project, there's nothing to eat for dinner, the dishes are piled to the ceiling, and you have no clean clothes to wear for your presentation tomorrow.
3. Compare your life to the perfect, polished appearance your friends share on their social media profiles. Compare your backbend to elite-gymnast girl on the other side of the yoga studio. Compare your lawn to the guy's across the street, your bank account to your colleague's, and your backside to Kim Kardashian's—then beat yourself up for not measuring up, and go crazy doing everything in your power to make your life as good as someone else's. Make sure you're doing it, not because you actually want/need the things they have to be happy, but because you don't like losing. Yup. Knock yourself out.
4. Be too busy to make yourself real food. Eat mostly just "foods" you get from a drive through, a shiny bag, or out of a tub. (Whatever you do, do NOT plan your meals in advance and stock your freezer with healthy dinners you can grab in a pinch because, after all, you like to be stressed out and frantic, right?)
5. Avoid sunshine. Stay inside all day, preferably sitting in front of your computer, iPhone, iPad, TV, or other gadget. Put in 12 hours a day of work, spinning your wheels, thinking the same thoughts, and refreshing your email, and wonder why you never get anything done.
6. Never, ever exercise.
7. Have lots of unrealistic expectations of how your partner, friends, family, and co-workers should treat you. Expect them to read your mind. Then, get really upset and disappointed when they don't actually behave like the characters from your favorite Disney movie, romantic comedy, or sitcom. (Ross would NEVER have said that to Rachel!)
8. File your taxes on April 15, better yet, be late! Also, never contribute to your retirement, don't buy health insurance, and don't even think about negotiating a better salary, business deal, or a raise.
9. Go to the airport late. Let running through airport terminals with a rolling carry-on be your only form of exercise. Oh, and eat lots of airport food when you make it to your gate!
10. Speaking of airports, never take a vacation. Don't take breaks during your work day. Go to bed late and get up early. And always ALWAYS leave before Savasana.
Disclaimer: Before you start thinking I'm all high and mighty, know that I've done (and often still do) everything on this list. But I'm a firm believer that awareness is the first step to transformation—maybe it will be step in the right direction for you, too.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? How do you sabotage your own peace and calm?