There are a lot of reasons for any of us to feel stress. Were all pretty busy, and stress has kind of become a fact of life for a lot of people.

Its understandable. We all go through bouts with it from time to time, since we have a lot of responsibilities and big problems to handle. So its natural that wed have stress to go along with that. But we dont need to field as much stress as we do every day.

You see, a lot of us tend to make things much harder on ourselves by doing or not doing, as the case may be some things wrong that can be easily fixed. So we keep adding extra stress for no reason.

So I made a short list of some simple things that cause unnecessary stress, and what you can do to relieve it. Here it is in no particular order:

1. Get enough sleep

Ive gone through bouts of insomnia in the past. I can tell you first hand that not getting enough sleep is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Youll spend every day as a big bundle on nerves and stress. You become forgetful. Youre on edge. And it can lead to depression, obesity and even cardiovascular problems.

Im not saying that I have a cure for insomnia. But whenever possible, I recommend planning ahead, figuring out how much sleep youre going to need (the Center for Disease Control recommends 7-9 hours for adults), and making sure that you get it. Youll find that every day will be much easier to get through.

2. Leave early

Sure, we all run late from time to time. Here in New York City, were left with little choice but to rely on mass transit most of the time, and that can be a bit unpredictable. So Ive learned to give myself plenty of time to get somewhere, so that Im not left to the whims of the MTA. If theres a problem, if its not too major, then I should still get there on time.

I see a lot of people on the subway who are in a big ol rush to get where theyre going, and theyre clearly stressing out about being late, and all of the other people in their way, and theyre pushing past you, and being rude. Not me, Ive got plenty of time, and Im going to take my time. Stress free. And if my commute goes off without a hitch, then I get there a little early, and I fool everyone into thinking that Im very responsible.

By the way, the same rules apply if youre driving, and may have to account for the traffic.

3. Practice

Things that are new can be nerve racking. Getting some practice in and getting better at it gets rid of that stress. When I first started learning kung fu, I was very nervous. When I first started teaching kung fu, I was very nervous. But eventually, I got used to doing it, and settled into it, and it turned out that I had no reason to be nervous or to stress out after all. The same is true with pretty much anything youll ever do.

Now, obviously, not everything you do is something that youre going to do multiple times. But a lot of things are. So remind yourself that this is just the first time youre trying it, and that youre going to make a few mistakes, and that itll come easier the more you do it. Im a big believer in learning by doing.

4. Dont allow yourself to get drawn into stupid arguments

I loves me a good debate, but I dont much care for arguments. So I really only debate with people who I know will be able to chat without losing their temper or getting offended or whatever. Everyone else gets something like thats nice from me, and thats it.

Getting into stupid arguments over stupid things is a sure way to feel stupid yourself. Arguing causes you to tense up, and it puts you on edge, and makes you defensive. Plus, you get to walk away feeling like you made an ass of yourself. Why bother?

I learned this lesson the hard way.

5. Choose

Sometimes we get overloaded with too many choices, and we dont know what decision to make. And we end up making it much harder on ourselves than it needs to be. For example, have you ever looked at a menu, and not known what to order, and gotten a little frustrated?

Well, the same is true, and probably worse, when you look at all of the stuff you have to do in any given day, or at any given moment. Its easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated, and to end up doing nothing and then worrying about it. Being indecisive is actually pretty stressful. Making a good, well thought out decision can get rid of that stress because it will feel like youre making progress.

And while were at it, be confident enough in your decision to accept that it might be the wrong one, and that youll have to choose differently next time.

6. Turn your phone off

Take a break once in a while when you have some time, and make yourself unavailable. Relax for a while. Unwind. Youll find that its very freeing to be able to sit there and know that you cant be disturbed.

You can always turn your phone back on later.

7. Walk away

Speaking of taking a break. Every now and then, if youre feeling overwhelmed for example, at work walk away from it for a bit. Take your lunch break. Take a walk around the block. Get some fresh air. Get a glass of water. Decompress for a few minutes. Whatever it is that you prefer. And then go back to what you were doing.

Yes, youre going to lose some time if you walk away, but itll be better for you in the long run. And theres a good chance that youll be more productive after your break than if you worked straight through, anyway.

8. Laugh

Youve heard the expression Laughter is the best medicine. Well, not too long ago, I interviewed Gerry Hopman, who is a humorist and a motivational speaker. He talks about the benefits of laughter, and I asked him what advice he has for someone who doesnt feel much like laughing, and doesnt think they have much to laugh about. And he said to force it.

In other words, fake a laugh. And keep faking it for a while. The more you do it, the easier it will become. The next thing you know youll be laughing for real, and youll start finding more things to laugh about.

And laughter, just by its nature, releases stress.

9. Write it down

I highly recommend keeping a pen and some paper handy whenever you can. Trying to remember everything you need to remember causes a lot of stress. Its a lot easier to write it down and refer back to it. Its kind of like when you make a shopping list. Well, you can apply that same principle to anything.

A few months ago, I interviewed Kathryn Watson, whos a relaxation coach, and during our discussion she said this: So many people think that theyre supposed to remember everything, and especially as they start to get a little bit older, and they get frustrated because theyre not remembering. You dont have to remember everything. Leave the to do list on paper or on the computer or on whatever device you use to keep your list updated, but you dont have to keep it all up in your head. You dont need to remember to pick up the eggs on the way home, you just need to have it written down somewhere where you can find it.

Well said. Actually Kathryn has a bunch of relaxation tips listed on her site. You can read them here.

OK, so there you have it. Those are just a few of the things that you can do to get rid of some unnecessary stress. There are naturally going to be plenty more, but this is a decent start.

What about you? Do you have any tips for something simple that anyone can do to relieve stress? Lets hear it. All ideas are welcome.

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