Stress relief

Stress is caused by worrying about a problem that isn't within our control - an impossible project, a sick family member, a hostile coworker, inability to pay the bills, politics, uncertainty about the future etc. Often times, these worries are subconscious - your monkey brain initiates and feeds these thoughts incessantly.

1. Catch yourself when you are getting anxious. Take a pause - a few deep breaths - and think about what you are worried about. Maybe write it down. Does the worry make sense? Are you being too pessimistic or blowing it out of proportion? Why is this important to you?

Most worries are unrelated to your immediate safety and have something to do with status, identity or questionable future aspirations. These are abstract, made-up concepts that don't really matter, especially if they are affecting your happiness now, which is way more real.

2. Remind yourself that there is absolutely no upside to worrying. It impacts your happiness and your ability to act. Your problem isn't going to disappear because you are worried.

3. Focus on what is in your control and act. What can you do about the situation now? What's the next step? Can someone help or advice? Can you just eliminate the problem? (cancel the commitment, reduce the scope, de-prioritize). Write these down and start acting on them.

4. Reset with a break.  If you are feeling stressed for an extended period of time, do yourself a favor and take a break. A stressed brain isn't good at problem solving. Get some sleep, listen to music, exercise (and get some endorphins), do an activity that is very engaging (a sport, go to a show, read a book), go meet a friend and chat about something unrelated, take a sick day.