There are things that all of us dread each day – the daily commute to work, having to deal with people who stress you out, daily chores that never seem to end and fighting to get ahead in the world. You may even hate having to exercise to keep healthy.
Debilitating stress doesn’t have to come from extra burdens that come around such as illness, relationship problems, anger and frustration. Common, daily stressors can eventually get you down.
But what if you could make those daily stressors fun? What if your daily commute could turn into a time when you actually enjoy being caught in traffic? It sounds impossible, but it’s very doable. Here’s how…
Traveling on Your Daily Commute
Traffic seems to be getting worse, even in areas where there never used to be a problem. You may get tired of listening to music – although relaxing music is a great way to calm down.
Finding something different to make you relax and enjoy the commute isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Many are turning to podcasts for a different way to spend travel time that’s fun, informative and relaxing.
Whether you’re on public transportation or driving, podcasts are a great way to laugh, learn or be entertained. Many are free. NPR has an enjoyable podcast called Fresh Air. The commentator interviews interesting people you’ve likely heard of and may want to know more about.
Apps that can help you organize and stay on top of things is also a way to make your commute a time of progress rather than dead time. Things is an inexpensive powerhouse of an app that is far above the typical organizer where you check off boxes.
This sophisticated app is a perfect thing to keep you occupied if you’re commuting on a train, carpool or mass transit. It gives you a new list of to-do items each day. You can then tag, categorize and schedule them and also group them into projects.
Just want to be entertained on the long commute to and from work. You’ll love the comedy routine in Bill Burr’s, Bill’s Monday Morning Podcast. You’ll feel like you’re at a stand-up comedy show.
If you want to be productive on your commute and someone else is doing the driving, take some time to get caught up on emails. They can really pile up and cause stress. Your commute is the perfect time to clean out your inbox.
Take some time to engage in creative endeavors. If you have a hobby or passion, you can learn more about it by listening to podcasts (if driving) or reading about it if you take other transportation types.
You can also use the time during your commute to read – or listen to – a good book that simply whisks you away into another world and take some time off from the world you’re in.
Commuting for most of us takes up an enormous chunk of time – averaging over six hours per week – or over 300 hours per year. That’s way too much time to just let flit by in frustration of being stuck in a car or on a bus or train.
Take the time you’re commuting as an opportunity to get closer to reaching your goals, reducing stress by being entertained or learning something. You may not be able to change the time you commute, but you can control your reaction to it.
Spending Time with People Who Stress You Out
Some people are just stressful to deal with on a daily basis – or even once in awhile. But if you prepare yourself ahead of time and take control of the situation, you’ll feel less stressed and more in charge of your life.
Coworkers are sometimes the most stressful people to deal with. You may not be able to avoid them or cut them completely out of your life, but you can take some steps to relieve the pressure.
When you can’t control the uncontrollable, such as being around annoying coworkers, focus on what you can control in the workspace, like choosing how you react to the problems.
Think of ways you can minimize your time around these people or even cut them out of your life completely. React to the stress coworkers can cause by choosing ways to remain calm and how you can control the impact of the stress.
Relatives can also be stressful to deal with. They’re part of your family circle and you don’t want to just cut them out of your life. Another way to deal with them is to spend less time around them.
Learn how to say no to events or invitations that you don’t want to attend and that would put you more in contact with the relative. When you do have to be around them, prepare yourself beforehand.
You can control your reactions to what a relative says or does. Prepare responses and think of ways to minimize the stress of being around the person – like spending your time with another relative who you enjoy.
It’s the same with friends. A person who you were close to at one time might be a stressor now. Is it you that has changed or the other person? It may be time to spend less time around the friend or have a long talk about where your think your friendship stands at the present time.
If the friendship is worth salvaging, you can both be in on the process. At least you’ll both be able to address the problem and think of ways to solve it. Not expressing your feelings to others you have a relationship with can build the stress you feel.
Stress may also be a common factor in your home life if the relationship with your spouse (significant other) or kids is problematic. If your immediate family is wreaking havoc in your life, it may be time to reassess your relationships.
It’s important to find out what went wrong and how you can fix the problems before things spiral out of control. If the stressing point is that you don’t spend enough time with the family, try to think of ways you can reverse the trend.
For example, rather than spending an inordinate amount of time shopping for groceries, try ordering them online. Most supermarkets have plans that you can either pick them up at the store or they will deliver them to your home free-of-charge.
Saying no to outside activities that you don’t really enjoy or feel obligated to is another way you can find hours more to spend with your family. Sometimes all it takes to get you back on track is the willingness to talk about and find solutions to the problems.
Rather than stressing over spending time with a person, decide how you can deal with it by using one of the four-A solutions to stress – avoid the person, accept them, adapt by taking control or accept them for who they are.
Exercising for Health and Fitness
Thinking about exercising can be a common stress factor – or a proven and ultimate stress reliever. Exercise can help you maintain your health and mental well-being and can help melt stress away. You may simply have to get a positive mindset and just do it.
Exercise ceases to be a stressor when you begin to think about it as fun and when you begin to realize that exercise can help minimize the other stressors in your life. After awhile of regular exercise, you’ll begin to see and feel positive changes in your body and your mindset.
Choosing exercises you enjoy can make a difference in how you respond. You could benefit greatly by choosing a combination such as aerobic (dancing, jogging, swimming or biking) and strength (resistance) training like weights or bands.
The benefits you get from exercise are in the multitudes. You know most of them – increase in endurance, mental acuity, heart, lungs and lower risk of chronic diseases. You can improve your balance and stay limber as you age.
When choosing exercises, try to create a balance of those exercises that tend work all parts of your body. And don’t forget core exercises. They can prevent you from catastrophic falls and prevent lower back injuries.
You must choose exercises that you have fun with so you’ll stick with it. If you don’t, you’ll have problems making exercise part of your daily or weekly routine and quickly become bored.
Try setting goals in your exercise and fitness pursuits. They should be challenging, but also realistic so you don’t feel frustrated and give up. Then, reward yourself when you reach a goal with a new outfit or going to the movies.
Deciding which exercises to do so the thought of them doesn’t stress you out is extremely important if you’re going to stick with the program and improve your health and fitness. That’s a personal choice and one you may need to hit and miss before you find the best one(s).
Exercise becomes less stressful to think about when you make it a habit. The best way to do that is make a commitment to a time schedule and then set clearly defined goals for what you want to accomplish.
Think about getting a partner to make the exercise more fun or varying your exercise routine from one time to the next so you won’t become bored and give up. Also, choose a time of day that’s most comfortable for you.
You don’t want to do strenuous exercises just after eating or maybe when you’re stiff in the morning. Give yourself time to warm up before actually engaging in the exercise so you won’t be sore.
Include some exercises where you can listen to music, watch television or read as you work out. A treadmill or stationary bicycle is great to combine with your time exercising. Track your exercise routines with an app so you can look back and see progress.
Never give up. No matter how stressful it may seem to include exercise in your schedule, it’s well worth the effort. Keep on track any way you can and eventually, you’ll be glad you did.
After Work Chores
You’re on your way home from a stressful day at work and thinking about all the chores you have to do before you can relax and have some time for yourself. Or, perhaps it’s the weekend – same thing.
Everything you didn’t get done on the evenings after work has piled up and you’re looking toward a weekend of chores. Cleaning house, laundry, cooking meals and helping kids with homework can all be stressors unless you can find ways to have fun while you’re doing it.
Enlisting help from the family – in a fun way – can make chores go faster and help you reconnect. While you’re cooking or cleaning together, brainstorm ideas for your next vacation or think of recipes you might all like and experiment with them.
Laundry can go faster if you fold and hang up clothes while watching a good television show. Challenge members of your family with games while you’re doing chores. Games you can play while on-the-go like seeing who can make up the best oxymoron is fun.
An oxymoron is a term than contradicts itself – such as jumbo shrimp. That’s a good teaching tool too. Throw around plots for a book or movie. That could make you millions if you hit upon the right idea.
Kids also like games such as, would you rather – where you ask a question such as would they like to run naked across their school’s football field or clean the school restrooms with a toothbrush.
If you’re alone while performing chores, put on some favorite music, light candles and sip a glass of wine while you’re cleaning. Dance around with the broom or mop and get your daily dose of exercise in.
Join in the singing while you’re bopping around. Try opera while you’re cleaning the shower and chiming in with some pop music while you’re sweeping. Dress up in an apron, soft slippers and a turban around your hair to get in the mood. It’s fun.
Helping kids with homework can be a huge and exacerbating chore. The nagging alone can become a stressor that makes you long to stay at work for the evening. The battles over homework can stop if you can find ways to make it fun.
It’s best to have a plan in place before school even starts for the year. Set two or three goals that help to address your child’s weakest areas in school. Let your children help you decide what those are.
If they had problems with getting homework done before bedtime, an earlier starting time to begin assignments is in order. If they hate to read, perhaps you can help them choose a reading spot – just for reading, where they can concentrate.
When you insist on a daily schedule for your child, things run much smoother and peaceful. Chores, including homework, can become less stressful when you plan ahead and find ways to execute them with a bit of imagination.
Pursuing a Higher Level in Your Career
Pursuing promotions or returning to college to achieve a higher degree can be huge stressors. The time it takes and the effort you put in sometimes seems never-ending. But there are ways to eliminate or lessen the stress and enjoy the ride to the top.
Stress comes in very area while rising to the top – in making the best grades, being sure your resume is over the top with achievements and getting to know the right people.
Many companies today are developing what is known as breaks with meditation. Meditation is viewed as fuel to unlock your productivity and creativity. Even if you don’t have the meditation breaks at work, you can create your own space.
You can adapt these Eastern practices that have been around through the millennia for your own needs. It’s the art of retraining your brain to relax so it’s open to everything regarding your career.
During a meditation session, you can reflect on things you can do to promote yourself and get the attention needed to set you apart from the others. Most people have fight-or-flight responses to study or doing what it takes in a company to get ahead.
When you learn how to approach it in a calm, mindful way you can rewire your brain to solve problems much faster and much more effectively than others who may approach it hyperactively and turn everyone off in the meantime.
Meditating on things you can do to minimize your stress about getting ahead will likely include managing your finances effectively. Student loans are a known stressor for new graduates who have well-paying starter jobs, but still not enough to pay for the adult way of life.
Becoming an adult and being on your own can also be stressful if you have other worries such as an aging parent you must take care of—or a baby on the way. Learning how to meditate and become mindful of these aspects of your life and find ways to deal with them.
If there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do everything it takes to get ahead and still maintain your health and stability, try a new schedule. Get up early to exercise rather than leaving work early – or get help to organize and deal with mounting bills.
Taking as much of the daily stress as possible out of your life while you’re struggling with school or work can help you function much more effectively and gain a better understanding of what you have to do to get ahead.
Citizen Counselling and Coaching have a number of our counsellors and coaches who can provide support around stress and anxiety management This can include identifying the obstacles, creating practical plans and through sharing techniques and models that have worked for others.
Our ÔMy Stress CoachÕ online programme and Coaching was designed for time poor busy people looking to manage their stress and achieve a positive change in their lives.
Our Stress Management page can explain more
You will find our online programme ‘My Stress Coach’here