Depression, burnout, anxiety – and all that goes along with those conditions – can strike at even the most successful and generally-optimistic of people.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that you can be on top of the world one day, flying high in your career, and living a satisfying and engaging life, only to find that things suddenly become too chaotic, and the ordinary day-to-day stress that we’ve been shouldering in our personal and professional lives takes a toll that we had not anticipated.
It could be an unexpected tragedy that brings you down, the unexpected loss of a job, or simply the fact that you have been juggling too many different balls, for too long, and can no longer keep up with the gruelling pace you have set yourself.
Then again, sometimes the reasons why we fall into a dark place in our lives will be difficult to explain or understand, no matter how much introspection we dedicate to the task.
Getting back on your feet after you’ve found yourself in this kind of negative situation can be tough, and can require major work, ranging from counselling sessions with a professional therapist, to a complete overhaul of your professional life.
But there are some simple ways you can tweak your everyday life that can help to set you on the path of increased well-being, and reduced stress. Sometimes, these simple lifestyle tweaks will be enough to help to set you back on the right track. But even if they don’t achieve that job on their own, they will do some good.
Here are a few simple ways to tweak your life for more well-being and less stress.
Switch up your subscriptions and service providers, so that they are as little of a headache as possible
If you’re feeling burnt out, stressed, and overwhelmed, it’s probably not too likely that your first thought will be to investigate all the different subscriptions and services you are signed up to, when seeking to balance things out again.
Don’t underestimate, however, just how much these “small things” can contribute to chronic stress and frustration in your life. It’s unlikely that having a pain-in-the-neck phone contract will have a major impact on your life all by itself – but when combined with a dozen or more other things, it might just push you over the edge.
It’s generally quite easy to modify those subscriptions and services you are signed up to, and so this is a decent place to start when trying to make your life less stressful as a whole.
Audit all the subscriptions and services you are signed up to, figure out which of those are actually providing a high degree of benefit to your life and which aren’t, and cancel all those that don’t seem to justify themselves.
Then, look for ways to simplify everything that’s left. It might be that simply switching to a SMARTY unlimited plan, changing your Audible billing cycle, and finding a new budgeting tool that’s more automated, can help to tone down some of the noise and irritation you might be facing, by a significant margin.
When these small aspects of your life are ticking along more comfortably, and when you have less of them to manage, you may easily find that you have a lot more mental and emotional energy to dedicate to tackling the bigger picture stuff.
Take steps to simplify your life in general – cut out the stuff that isn’t specifically necessary or enriching
This point is more or less an extension of the point mentioned in the last sub-heading; but expanded to encompass your life as a whole, rather than just one particular element of it.
A major part of the reason why people become burned out, is because there is simply too much complexity in their everyday lives. This complexity doesn’t necessarily take the form of one or two particular obligations or routines that are just more trouble than they’re worth, but is typically a composite of the totality of what’s going on in multiple dimensions.
As a general rule, when you can “simplify” your life, you can more easily identify the path ahead, and can find moments to relax and take stock of things, as opposed to feeling like you are putting out fires all day long.
When taking steps to simplify your life as a whole, you should take everything into account. If you have any hobbies that aren’t particularly necessary or enriching to you, drop them – at least for the time being. Trying to find time to develop your artistic skills, learn new languages, record a solo album, and write a book, is likely to be too much of a headache for just about anyone to manage.
Focus on doing a few things as you can – and you’ll find that not only will you likely be a good deal less stressed, and feel a good deal more in control, but you’ll probably also be more effective in those areas where you do apply yourself.
If you concentrate on learning a new language, for example, and leave the other hobbies and projects for later. That way – at the very least – you won’t be adding extra stress and guilt to your free time, due to the frantic attempt to juggle too many things at once.
Sit down for a while and set yourself some clear long-term goals
A sense of aimlessness and lack of direction is often a major factor in why we end up feeling disheartened, depressed, and otherwise thrown off balance, in life.
Even if things are going quite well in your life by all objective measures, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of optimism and motivation if you don’t have a clear sense that you’re moving toward something meaningful.
One of the best things you can do in order to help to restore some of that sense of meaning to your life, is to sit down for a while and set yourself some clear, long-term goals. These should be things that you find genuinely meaningful and uplifting, rather than just purely material aspirations such as “I want to buy a Ferrari within three years.”
Your goals will inevitably change over time, but you should always be working towards something that you value, in order to give your life the kind of positive momentum that is so important to an enduring sense of well-being.
Try to keep a regular routine, and schedule your days the night before
Sometimes, we feel as if things have fallen apart in our lives, because in some sense, they have. Specifically, when you are no longer able to maintain a sense of structure and control in your life, things will inevitably seem more threatening, and will be more anxiety-inducing.
If you find yourself staying up at all hours to manage work projects, or family obligations, and are unable to stick to any of your targets and plans, that’s something you need to rectify as soon as possible.
Simply making a real effort to keep a regular routine can be very powerful for restoring your sense of executive function and control. One of the best places to start is by establishing a regular wake up time, and sticking to it every day.
Another great thing to do can be to schedule your days out in advance, the night before, using a calendar app, or a piece of paper. Plot out what it is you need to – and want to – do at each point in the day, and then do your best to stick to that schedule.