Ever since I was a young girl, I enjoyed observing how people around me behaved.
For example, I used to be quiet during family dinners or a girls’ night out and listen to the ongoing conversations. And I’m still doing this from time to time. Admittedly, I sometimes wonder if I’m weird for doing so. However, I also believe I learned a lot about human behavior just by sitting still and paying attention to what people talk about and what they actually do.
Nowadays, everyone is telling you to look for coaches and mentors and to get support from those who already succeeded in achieving their goals, but I found that occasionally, the contrary can also be effective.
Sometimes, you can learn more from the mistakes of those around you than any book, or motivational speaker could ever teach you.
Let’s take your family, for example: If you want to prevent ending up like your parents and want to be more wealthy and happy, why not avoid their habits and do some things the opposite way?
This strategy might sound weird, but it works.
By avoiding the mistakes of others, you can accelerate your own growth and prevent some significant failures in life.
According to studies, more than 20% of employees feel burned out at work very often or always. An additional 44% reports feeling burned out and stressed sometimes.
These numbers are insane and clearly state that the majority of today’s world’s population struggles in dealing with stress.
However, what’s even scarier is that these days, being stressed doesn’t start when you get a job but much earlier.
According to mental-health studies, even teens and young adults are more anxious than ever. More than 70% of US kids report that anxiety and depression are a “major problem” among their peers, and an additional 26% say it’s a minor problem.
Taking into account that we all just have one life and should actually be enjoying our days on this planet, these statistics are pretty scary. And it’s a pity because reducing stress and living happier lives are not that difficult.
Too often, we make life harder than it needs to be. And sometimes, observing overly stressed people and doing the opposite of what they are doing can be the ultimate gamechanger.
Is it easy to be relaxed and full of joy by avoiding a few little habits?
But is it worth trying? You bet!
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
— Jim Rohn
Anyone who says they don’t have time for sports because they are too busy and stressed isn’t aware of the benefits of physical movement.
Physical laziness slowly but surely kills our productivity, focus, and health.
Just look at some of the most successful people on the planet: Entrepreneurs, artists, writers, top executives,…almost all of them are in good shape, and that’s indeed no coincidence.
Moving your body has a tremendous effect on your physical health and your mental wellbeing. Besides lowering your stress levels, moderate daily movement will, for example, improve your cardiovascular health, lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, help strengthen your immune system and your sleep.
So there are a bunch of good reasons why:
- Marc Zuckerberg exercises at least three times per week.
- Oprah does cardio training six mornings a week and an additional four to five strength-training sessions.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up around 5 AM to go to the gym almost every day.
If these people can fit exercise into their schedules, so can you.
How to fix it:
Even a few minutes of movement are better than nothing. It might be hard to fit a 60-minute workout into your schedule every day, but what about taking the stairs instead of the elevator? Or about getting off the bus one stop earlier and walking a few miles?
Invest some time in finding exercises and activities that you enjoy, as this will make it a whole lot easier to stick to new routines.
For example, you could take 15-minutes every Sunday evening and schedule all physical activities in your calendar, just like all your other appointments.
In the worst case, you could leave the house earlier in the morning and go for a 15-minute walk or do a 10-minute stretching and yoga exercise right before going to bed.
You have endless opportunities and millions of free exercising videos to choose from, you just need to get moving.
Not Standing Still
“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.”
While moving physically is essential, standing still for a few moments, and taking deep breaths from time to time is at least as important.
In his book “Tribe of Mentors”, Tim Ferriss summarizes the habits and rituals of more than 50 incredibly successful people, and it’s no surprise these people have a few things in common.
Almost all of them are practicing some sort of meditative activity every day.
Some are typically meditating by sitting still for a few minutes. Some report that their daily exercise at the gym is their meditative activity as they fully focus on their muscles and don’t think of anything else, and some others are meditating while walking.
In fact, it doesn’t matter how you meditate.
What’s important is that you allow your mind to rest from time to time.
Nowadays, we are being bombarded with information all the time, and it’s more difficult than ever before to focus our minds on the important. Thus, meditation is an essential part of high-performing people as it helps to reduce stress and focus our mind on the positive.
If you analyze highly stressed people, you will quickly realize they are hardly practicing mindfulness in their daily lives. Instead, they are rushing from one appointment to the other, continually worrying about the next tasks and improvements.
Those who perform well, however, are masters in mindfulness.
How to fix it:
When it comes to meditation, there is no right or wrong. Calming your mind and standing still can be difficult if you’ve never done it before, but you will soon experience the benefits.
Just like with exercising, the best you can do is build a meditation routine.
A daily habit will make your life much easier and help you to stay calm and focused, even during tough times.
Even a 5-minute meditation can help you to improve mindfulness and be more aware of anything going on in your life. Just make sure to start.
Find a guided meditation on YouTube or download one of the free apps you find in your app store, light up a nice candle, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing for a few moments.
Constantly Being Bombarded With Information
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.”
— Anne Lamott
The vast amount of information that we’re being served every day is one of the major reasons why so many people are feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Push notifications, the news, social media feeds, podcasts, emails, …it’s part of our daily lives to check all these platforms and messages regularly, and while doing so, we forget that life is actually what happens outside of our screens.
There’s no point in checking your phone or the news all the time, as these are significant drivers for stress and anxiety.
You don’t need to be aware of everything that is going on in the world or in your friend’s and coworkers’ lives.
How to fix it:
From time to time, all we need to do is unplug and get some time off from all the noise of the world.
For many people, a digital detox is an incredibly freeing experience and helps to regain their focus and mental health.
Yet, even small, daily changes can have a great influence on your mental wellbeing and reduce your stress levels. For example, start limiting the time you spend scrolling through social media feeds.
Or limit the times you check your emails or messages per day. This might sound hard, but once you get used to it, you will have so much more time and energy for other (more important) tasks.
Trust in the flow of the universe and in the fact that essential information will find its way to you, even if you’re offline.
“An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.”
— Dale Carnegie
Nobody on this planet is stressed because they have too little time. Stress is almost always the result of poor self-management.
Sometimes, you just need to say no to certain tasks and favors in order to be able to say yes to yourself and your mental wellbeing. If you don’t prioritize your personal wellbeing over unnecessary to-do’s, meetings, and favors for others, you’ll find yourself burned out and stressed quite quickly.
How to fix it:
People always complain about not having enough time to care for themselves, or for healthy routines, yet, here’s the truth: Nobody has time.
If it’s a priority and you really want it, you just make time.
You sell your tv, you log out of Instagram, you stop debating with strangers on Facebook, you cook quicker, simpler meals instead of spending hours in the kitchen,…you have endless opportunities to make time.
Nobody is too busy, it’s just a matter of proper self-organization and time-management.
Sit down for 10 minutes every evening and plan your next day. Set an intention and have a powerful vision of who you want to become and how you want your life to look in a few years.
If your vision is sexy enough, you’ll have it easier to properly plan your days, reduce your stress level and make time for things that help you be more mindful, productive, and effective instead of burned out.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”
— Steve Jobs
Ignorance of Proper Rest
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” (Irish Proverb)
Another common mistake of highly stressed people is the lack of proper rest — mentally and physically.
Due to the increasing popularity of today’s hustle mentality, too many people think they need to cut down on proper sleep and rest in order to succeed in life and business.
But that’s bullshit.
You’ll never succeed by killing your body.
If you want to be productive, happy, and effective in what you’re doing, you need to rest.
How to fix it:
Stop cutting down on necessities such as sleep to work on your to-do list.
If you truly need to sleep less to complete your necessary tasks, you are probably making some significant mistakes in how you organize your days.
A lack of rest and sleep leads to decreasing productivity and is a potential driver for health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and many more.
Instead of ignoring your rest, try getting more of it.
High-quality sleep and rest will ensure you are even more productive and effective throughout your days.
Stop spending more time for work and instead increase your focus and mental strength so that you get the same amount of work done more efficiently and have more time for all the other things that spark your soul.
Lack of Natural Connection
“By discovering nature, you discover yourself.”
— Maxime Lagacé
Those who spend a lot of time in nature tend to be less stressed than their fellows.
According to ScienceDaily, taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels.
Natural connection helps us to wind down, breathe deeply, and let go of tension.
How to fix it:
Whenever possible, choose to spend some time in nature. Skipping the shopping center and going on a walk through the park or even on a small hike will have a much greater influence on your life than spending money on stuff you don’t need anyway.
It might not be possible to get some natural energy every day, but even a few getaways per month can lead to a more relaxed life and a calmer mind.
Next time you meet up with friends, suggest a place that’s close to a park or even a forest, or go for a little hike instead of sitting in a cafe.
Or reward yourself with some me-time in nature after your next exam or the end of an important project.
You probably don’t even know about all the opportunities to get in touch with mother nature close to your residence anyway, so do a little research and create a vision board of places you want to visit in the upcoming months to reduce your stress levels and energize your body and mind.
Desperately Pouring From an Empty Cup
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”
— Katie Reed
Highly stressed people continuously try giving to others without nourishing themselves. They believe they’re good people because they take care of others instead of looking at their own needs, but the truth is the contrary.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
In planes, they always say, “Put your own oxygen mask on first” and there’s a good reason for that beautiful statement.
It’s impossible to give to others when you are empty and lack energy and joy.
To be a giver, you first need to take care of yourself.
How to fix it:
Self-care doesn’t need to take long or be complicated. Sometimes, even a 10-minute routine can make a difference and help you feel happier and more energized.
What matters is that you take care of yourself in some way.
Do more of what makes your soul happy. Take time for yourself and your mental and physical wellbeing before caring for anyone else.
Once you feel energized and happy, helping others will be so much easier and so much more fun.
Lack of Proper Nutrition
“You become what you think. You are what you eat.”
— Barbara Cartland
Stressed people often follow poor diets. Lots of carbs and sugar and a lack of knowledge on how to best nourish the body often end in fatigue, lack of concentration, decreasing productivity, and eventually, in high levels of stress or even burnout.
Those with high energy levels and great productive outcomes, however, are used to fueling their bodies with the nutrition they need.
How to fix it:
Healthy dieting doesn’t need to be hard, complicated, or costly. In fact, it can be even easier and less expensive than an unhealthy diet.
Tiny daily changes can add up to great results in the long term and even be fun.
Skip processed, junk foods that are cheap, easy, or fake and replace them with healthy, natural options that nourish your body and soul.
Avoid instant meals and fast-food chains, prepare shopping lists before going to the grocery store, choose healthy fats such as avocado or olive oil, eat your daily veggies, learn how to make tasty smoothies or even smoothie bowls that taste like delicious ice cream, and most importantly: be aware of why you do all these things and find joy in nourishing your body and soul.
“It’s not what we say out loud that really determines our lives. It’s what we whisper to ourselves that has the most power.”
— Robert Kiyosaki
Last but not least, another commonality of highly stressed people is poor self-talk.
Too many people ignore their inner world as they are too focused on the outer one. But here’s the thing: You’ll never be happy on the outside if you keep filling your inside with crap.
Our thoughts determine our emotions, our behavior, and, finally, our lives.
If you want to succeed in life and business and, more importantly, if you want to get all you want with ease, you need to be your own biggest cheerleader.
Nobody will trust you if you don’t do so.
How to fix it:
Take care of what’s going on in your mind. Surround yourself with people and information that is uplifting, positive, and inspirational.
Create routines to empower yourself, no matter how tough life seems to be. Remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing and start being your biggest supporter in life.
Because as Diane Von Furstenberg once beautifully stated:
“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”