Shortening Your List of Stressors

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If the list of stressors in your life is longer than you'd like (and whose isn't?) it's important to find a way to shorten that list. One simple route to a less stressed lifestyle is to create an actual list of stressors in your life, known as "tolerations", prioritize the tolerations according to how simple they would be to eliminate or how much frustration they are currently causing and eliminate these stressors in a way that brings the highest payoff.

You should learn how to identify these tolerations in your life, prioritize or rank these stressors, and then move on to the following strategies for ridding yourself of the stressors on your list, freeing yourself up for a less stressed lifestyle.

Get Rid of the Simple Stressors

As you go through your list of tolerations, notice the items that are easy to take care of. You may be able to drastically reduce the number of tolerations in your life by tackling the easy-to-eliminate tolerations as soon as possible. Simple-to-fix tolerations might be a cluttered car, a burned-out light bulb, an annoying co-worker who could easily be avoided, or anything that can be fixed simply and without much stress.

Look at all the items on your list that you’ve highlighted (if you’ve completed this toleration ranking exercise), and tackle a few today. Most likely, you’ll find an energy boost from marking those items off your list, and you can use that motivation to shorten your list more tomorrow and in the coming weeks.

Make a Plan to Eliminate the Costliest Tolerations

Certain items on your list of stressors are more draining than others. As you work on eliminating your tolerations, it's wise to focus your attention on tolerations that cost you the most in terms of time, money, and energy. This is a good idea for obvious reasons and some less-obvious reasons. Strategically speaking, cutting out these tolerations first can compel us to more easily eliminate other tolerations in our lives.

The most draining stressors and tolerations drag us down the most, and eliminating such drains on our resources can feel better than eliminating the drains that don’t affect us as much.

For example, cutting out money-draining toleration (like weather-sealing a door to save on electricity) leaves more money available to use as a resource in eliminating other tolerations (like hiring a housekeeper to help with the messy kitchen).

Cutting out energy-draining tolerations (like creating a better filing system at work so you don’t spend as much time searching for what you need) can leave you with more energy to tackle other tolerations, or be more productive at work. Time saved by streamlining your schedule can be devoted to creating an even more smooth-running routine. The beauty of taking these costly tolerations is that they create their own forward momentum.

Create Life Structures

As you’re minimizing some tolerations and eliminating others, you may find that different lifestyle changes can help with the management of your tolerations, and lifestyle structures can help with these lifestyle changes. Lifestyle structures are systems we have in our lives that can streamline different tasks.

For example, if several of your tolerations center around messes in your house, instituting a regular cleaning day or hiring a housekeeper can take care of these tolerations. If you have tolerations in your health, working with a nutritionist or trainer can provide the structures you need. Electronic structures can help minimize workload tolerations.

Structures take much of the work out of getting tasks done, which can cut down on the stress of having so many loose items cluttering up a to-do list. Identifying tolerations that can be eliminated or managed with structures, and instituting those structures, can be an activity that you do once, and it can eliminate untold stress in the future.

As you whittle down your list of stressors and tolerations, you should feel more energy and less stress in your life. Be sure to use this positive momentum to make even more healthy changes.

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