I’ve recently been having some strange medical issues. My digestive system has been out of whack, I’m exhausted and I’ve just felt “off.”
Apart from a minor Krispy Kreme donut addiction, I’ve always been a pretty healthy guy. I assumed these minor issues would just pass on their own, but they just kept sticking around. My physical discomfort started having a negative impact on my family and my work, so I finally took my wife’s advice and saw a doctor.
I had blood tests, an endoscopy, and even an ultrasound (I guess they wanted to make sure I wasn’t the world’s first pregnant man). After seeing several specialists and having a variety of tests, the doctors gave me a very unexpected diagnosis. The results of my tests, while somewhat inconclusive, all seemed to point to one factor…STRESS.
I was having a physical reaction to stress. The demands of raising young kids, work, life and keeping countless plates spinning at the same time was taking a toll on me. I was doing life at an unsustainable pace. I was burning out.
This was a wakeup call for me. I’m in the process of working my way through all this and making some healthy adjustments, but I’m not writing this as an “expert” on beating stress. I’m writing this as a guy in the trenches who’s trying to figure this out so I can be at my very best for my family.
Here’s what I’m learning. In addition to eating right (sometimes) and exercising, these seven disciplines are helping me beat stress and live a more meaningful life. I’m confident these could help you too:
1. Learn to say, “NO.”
I’m usually a “Yes” kind of guy, because I think I can get it all done and I don’t want to let anyone down. I’m learning that every “yes” comes at a cost to my family and my health, so I need to protect what’s most important by saying, “No” more often. If you don’t create boundaries for your life, nobody else will.
Your body is like your cell phone…it needs daily recharging! Get enough sleep. Block off plenty of time to do nothing but rest and recharge. It’s not wasted time. It’s a vital investment into your longterm health and well-being.
3. Digital Detox.
Being constantly connected via technology is exhausting and unhealthy. I’m a recovering iPhone addict, but I’m learning that when I can shut down my phone and computer for extended periods of time, I’m more present in the moment and have more focus. For more on this, watch my free video by clicking here. When you do use social media, use it as a way to encourage people; not a way to try and impress people.
4. Clearly define your priorities.
If you don’t determine what’s most important, you’ll always be running around in circles trying to get everything done, but never feeling like you’ve accomplished anything. For a simple process to help you determine what’s essential and what’s not check out my post on “5 keys to a focused life” by clicking here.
5. Surround yourself with positive people.
If you’re hanging out with people who have unhealthy habits, pretty soon, you’ll probably develop unhealthy habits too. Choose friends and mentors who will encourage you and challenge you to keep move forward in the right direction.
6. Choose an attitude of gratitude.
It’s hard to be thankful and stressed at the same time. A lot of our stress comes from trying to get more or “keep up” with other people. Choosing to be content brings more peace and chases away stress.
7. Choose faith over fear.
One of my favorite promises from the Bible deals with this issue of stress. It says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
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