I don’t have anxiety like other people do. It’s not that I never get it. It’s not that I don’t get overwhelmed by it at times. It just feels like I get it less than others. Am I doing something to be this way? Was I born lucky?
Why I Stress Less
My immediate answer is that I’m probably genetically less prone to it. My mother is truly calm and collected. She rarely over-stresses and I take after her in that respect. It can’t be only that though. Right? What do I do differently from others that keeps me from getting into stressful situations less frequently? Am I a good decision maker? Am I more at peace with my daily decisions? Do I get lucky?
If you put a gun to my head, I’d honestly say all of those. I make good decisions. I do things right. I have patience. Whenever I do stress out, and I can recall several instances, I often stop to think about how my current plight won’t end the world. It won’t ruin my life.
I make the decision to do what I can, put in effort, communicate, and be patient. That is all I can do. If I’ve done that, then I limit how much I’m allowing my mind to stress. If I’m doing all I can, then I know I’m not letting myself down.
Maybe that’s why other people stress more. They know they could do better, try harder, or be bolder. When they don’t, their body and mind react with stress, knowing that they are putting themselves in a potential bind.
I say this based on my experience. Most times, when I have that nagging, mind-blurring, bog-me-down style of stress, it’s of my own doing. I’m not preparing as much as I can. I’m putting off something I know I should do. I’m not fighting my primal emotions and impulses enough. Sometimes I’ll catch myself being in a bad mood because of one little thing and not let it go. I know I could just as easily be happy, but some part of my mind wants to drag me down and I’m not fighting enough to overcome it. I’m guessing this sounds familiar to you. Maybe you struggle with this too.
The key for me seems to be conscious acceptance of what I can and can’t do about a situation and the realization that I can choose to think about things however I want.
Sometimes, before going to festivals or conferences or a big work project, I feel a bit nervous. I stress over remembering all of the things I need to prepare and bring. I worry about the crowds or what if something goes wrong, etc etc etc…
But I can always take a step back. “I’ve gone through my list and have everything. I’m going to this event because it will be fun, so enjoy yourself.” Let’s say I have a big work project. It’s stressful to think about. I have to complete so much! It will be so much work!!.. But wait. I’ll get it done. I’ll just start. I’ll do a bit of it. I’ll take the first step and that’s it. One day, I found that I’ve completed it.
That’s all it takes. Break things down into simpler thoughts with lower stakes. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and take comfort in your decision. It doesn’t mean you won’t forget something or can’t have a bad time. It just means you know the odds in your head. Based on everything you know, you’ve made a decision so take solace in that and go with it. Stop stressing.
Benefits of Not Stressing
Once I’ve successfully eliminated that kind of stress, I usually think of new, more enjoyable or productive things. If your mind is free of the useless process of recycling unnecessary thoughts, you can begin to take more in and interact and enjoy yourself more.
Instead of worrying about how something isn’t going to work out or obsessing over trivial things like how your hair looks, you start to breathe in and fully experience the festival or conference or business meeting or sporting event or whatever. Your mind gets to think about that now. It gets to be free and think more productively. You learn more from the lecture. You hear more from the song. You understand more of the story.
Your brain processes better because that stress isn’t inhibiting your thoughts. It’s not bringing you down. In turn, you can fight other upcoming stresses from arising because you’ve freed your mind to deal with them ahead of time. If you deal with those the best you can, then you’ll continue to minimize stress and in this way, you cultivate the lowest stress version of yourself.
This is all easier said than done, but it’s how I think about dealing with stress and it’s helped me. It’s part of my daily life. I’ve thought this way for so long that it’s become ingrained in me. I suggest others should attempt to think this way too.
If you’re a high stress person, do these things.
- Be actively patient.
- Remember we are just a bunch of monkeys floating around on a rock in space. Whatever is going on isn’t the end of the world.
- Do the best you can on everything. If something is bugging you, work on it. If you need to get something done, just do it. Don’t put it off. The stress of it will go away.
- If you’re about do something you don’t want to, remember you will get through it. Life is a constant change from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, month to month. Chill out. Persevere.
- Take the first step. Don’t think about everything you have to do at once.
- Try to enjoy yourself. You will learn more and prevent future stresses if you are comfortable and alert instead of focusing on things that you can’t change or don’t really matter.