9 simple things you can do TODAY to be less stressed

Stress stifles success.

You know what I’m talking about: the kind of day where it feels like your head (or your chest; possibly your entire body) is about to explode.

We live in a fast-paced, always-plugged-in, changing-at-the-speed-of-tech kind of world, so explosive days are going to happen. That’s the bad news. The good news is that here are nine simple ways to ward off that explosion.

1. Be willing to accept help.

Letting someone help you does not make you weak or incapable or needy or pathetic. It makes you smart. Be smart.

2. Breathe.

How many times have you heard this recommendation? How often do you take advantage of this technique?

If the answers are “a zillion times” and “almost never”, maybe it’s time to swap that around.

I was at a meeting just today where the presenter (a yoga instructor) took us through a breathing exercise I found especially useful: Take a deep breath and think of it starting to fill your lower abdomen. Let the breath continue up into your rib cage and then into the top of your torso. Feel your body expand as you inhale. On the exhale, feel your body loosen and “collapse” as the breath leaves your upper torso, your rib cage, and your lower abdomen.

Think of it as five-second stress management.

3. Do one thing at a time.

Yes, I know there’s never just one thing that needs doing. However, if you act as if  this is true, you’ll have a much easier time putting your full focus on that one thing and simultaneously protecting your sanity.

Remember, you can always do one task for a brief but focused and productive amount of time, then productively and intentionally switch your focus and energy to another important task.

4. Be specific.

One of the biggest stressors out there, in my opinion, is the habit of putting some huge project on the day’s To Do list, then pretending it’s just one item.

In reality, a huge project is comprised of many, many small steps. And it’s those small, specific steps which are more manageable and less overwhelming.

So put those specific baby steps on your list so you can get the energy boost of knocking them out and making serious progress on the mondo project.

5. When it’s just not working, be willing to change gears.

I used this strategy in writing this blog post.

The topic I originally selected was going nowhere fast. I couldn’t seem to get my writing off the ground and so, after about 20 minutes of producing absolutely nothing worth publishing, I opted to get off that dead horse and get on a different one.

Allowing myself to change how I was doing my self-assigned task without changing what I was doing opened up a floodgate of energy and creativity. (Thank goodness.)

6. Let good enough be good enough.

I had to have a serious heart-to-heart talk with myself about this one just yesterday.

My sister Barbara has a score of admirable skills and abilities. Painting walls, however, is not one of them. In fact, she’s perhaps the worst painter I’ve ever met.

So when she asked for my help in painting the trim after she did the bedroom walls, it was painful for me to see the patchy paint job. (Barbara was okay with it.)


Stress stifles success.


For some unknown reason, I am a very good room painter, and I find it satisfying to create neat, clean lines when cutting in. But I had to firmly remind myself that it made no sense to be super picky about the trim when the walls did not exactly score a perfect 10. And I further reminded myself that it was perfectly fine (a) for Barbara to be comfortable with the results she was comfortable with and (b) for me to do a good job – rather than my very best possible – in this case.

She loves her room, and I love my sanity. Win-win.

7. Say “no” more.

It’s sometimes tempting to believe the world as you know it will cease to exist if you choose not to fulfill someone’s request (or act on one of those shiny new ideas that constantly present themselves to entrepreneurs).

But the reality is that the world will keep spinning, you will still be a perfectly fine human being, and everything will work out okay even if your response to random requests or ideas is a well-thought-out, responsive, strategic “no”.

8. Ask, “Will I feel better for having done what I’m about to do?”

This is actually one of my favorites. It combines stress management, productivity boosting, and health-enhancing mindfuless in one brief question.

It’s too easy to operate on auto-pilot, or to react to changing circumstances rather than thoughtfully respond to them.

Taking just a few seconds to regularly ask yourself, “Will I feel better for having done what I’m about to do?” will provide powerful guidance for your choice of activities.

For example, of course you deserve a break for a good lunch. You can honestly say that, yes, filling your tummy and fueling your brain will help you feel better.

But when it comes to extending that lunch break for an hour or more to read that novel you started yesterday, you get to decide if reading that book in the middle of the work day will make you feel better than finishing that blog post you declared would be completed today.

9. Take a five-minute re-charge break every hour.

What this looks like depends on what energizes you. You might…

Here’s a video that will help you powerfully combine several of these techniques.

(Weaselly disclaimer: I officially neither endorse nor oppose the product promoted by this PSA. ☺ )


So what have you found to be good tools for keeping your head screwed on straight and your blood pressure at safe levels? Please share in the Comments section below.

And if you’re one of those entrepreneurs who’s still madly searching for a consistent way to figure out how to identify and tackle – without going nuts – those activities that truly deserve your attention, maybe we should talk.

My specialty is working with UFO’S – entrepreneurs who are unfocused, frenzied, overwhelmed, or stuck – and showing them how to kick the crap out of the way and address what needs addressing: confidently, effectively…sanely.

If that sounds attractive, let’s explore the possibility of working together in a no-charge, no-risk, nobody’s-committed-to-nothin’, get-acquainted call.

In 40 minutes or less, each of us will be able to confidently determine if we’re a fit or not, and we’ll proceed accordingly.

And if the mutual decision is “Let’s do it!”, you’ll have another powerful stress-management tool to use at will, and I’ll have another fabulous client who kicks butt and gets results.

Love those win-wins!

(BTW, thanks to “bark” for posting the image of the stressed man in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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