If you’ve ever read a personal development book cover to cover and proceeded to apply absolutely none of the insights to your life, you know that the ideas in these posts mean absolutely nothing if you don’t do anything with them.
With that in mind, I encourage you to take a more engaged approach to putting the ideas I have explored here to work.
Recognizing that one size does not fit all, here are three levels of stress management planning.
Sometimes the key to incorporating something new into your life is just to get in the game and make it simple and sustainable. This option is ideal for that.
Pick one idea and make it a 30-day experiment
I love 30-day experiments. They’re long enough that you can start to get a feel for the impact of whatever you’re experimenting with, but not so long that they kick up any heavy resistance.
You could, for example, go on a 30-day news fast and watch what impact it has on your state of mind. Or you could keep a gratitude journal for 30 days.
At the end of that 30 days, review the experience. What came out of it? What impact did it have? What did you learn? Is there value in continuing?
If you decide it’s worth continuing, aim for 30 days more. Then pick another idea and launch another 30-day experiment.
Taking this approach might not tickle your immediate gratification bone, but if you think about doing this for the next twelve months, it has the potential to create significant change in your life.
Happy-medium ten-point plan
Build your foundation
First things first. Make sure you have the foundational things in your life that will have an impact on both how you feel and how equipped you are to handle stress. These pillars include:
Eating a healthy diet.
Drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated.
Getting enough exercise.
Getting enough sleep.
Reaching out for connection and support.
Go on a news fast
For a week, swear off the news. The world won’t fall apart, I promise. Swear off Facebook as well, if you find yourself getting pulled into the news from that direction.
Give your morning a positive focus
Before you even get out from under the covers, set the tone for you day. You might do a quick gratitude scan of what’s good in your life. Or you might think about the day to come and make a mental of list the things you’re looking forward to.
You might also incorporate a little positive self-talk. “I believe in you. I love you.”
Cultivate daily meditation
Make a goal of cultivating a daily meditation practice. If possible, find a regular time where it can simply become part of your habitual routine.
Make your time commitment small enough that it feels doable and sustainable (e.g., start with five-minute meditations). Think about it as planting seeds, taking small steps to develop a practice that lasts for the long term.
Make life a letting-go learning lab
Life presents an endless array of opportunities to practice letting go of our attachment to what we want and resistance to what we don’t.
Take a learning lab approach to your life. When you notice yourself constricting, use that as a signal that it’s time to practice letting go.
Take 60-second breath breaks
Set a regular reminder on your phone or computer to stop and take a 60-second breath break multiple times throughout the day.
When you notice that stress coming up, or when you notice yourself getting angry, or even when you realize the inner critic is out, take the opportunity to practice self-compassion.
Start looking for ways to practice acts of kindness. Where are the opportunities to help people? Where are the opportunities to offer a kind gesture? Where are the opportunities to make people feel good?
Ask, what’s good here?
Start experimenting with asking the question, “What’s good here?” on a regular basis, multiple times per day. The more you do it, the more you of what’s good you will start to notice.
Take a break
And finally, I’m going to assume that at some point you will need a break. Wait, let me emphasize that. At some point YOU WILL NEED A BREAK.
Despite your best stress management efforts, you will get frustrated. You will get angry. You will feel overwhelmed.
When the cauldron starts boiling over, don’t just grit your teeth and push harder. Stop. Step back. Give yourself permission to take a break. Remember your commitment to the long haul. The world won’t fall apart because you take a week off.
The comprehensive approach
If you want to take it even deeper, you can start by doing an Aliveness Audit. In an Aliveness Audit, you take a look at your life as it relates to the two continuums of The Aliveness CODE:
Constricted to Open
Drained to Energized
The goal is to help you take a snapshot of the different aspects of your life and the impact they are having on how you feel.
The more detailed your understanding of what adds to and subtracts from your feeling of well-being, the better equipped you will be to make choices and take action that will move you in the right direction.