In today’s fast paced world too many people suffer from excess stress. They are constantly running on all cylinders and live on the brink of exhaustion. Even when people take a vacation, mobile technology prevents them from ever really escaping the stress of work, family, money, or school. This article addresses some of the root causes of stress that keep people from achieving their fullest potential.

Time Management

In many cases, people suffer from excessive stress as a result of poor time management. They are unable to determine what is important and what is not. Generally, tasks come in four categories. First are the urgent and important tasks which must always be completed as soon as possible. An example of this is paying rent on time, taking care of family emergencies or turning in a project to the boss by the stated deadline. Next are the tasks that are important but not urgent. Such tasks will benefit you in the future but you must begin working on them now. Such tasks include things like writing that novel, developing relationships with friends and family, or even learning a new language. The third category includes things that are urgent but not important such as incoming calls, frantic emails from colleagues asking for your help, and much of social media. Finally, there are those activities that are neither important nor urgent such as watching movies, mindlessly surfing the internet, and other unnecessary but often pleasant activities.

Understanding which category a task falls into will help you prioritize and focus on the most important ones. Ideally people should spend the majority of their time working on tasks that are important but not urgent. This will help prevent the stress of rushing through things at the last minute by tackling tasks before they become emergencies. Additionally, it will reduce the amount of urgent and important activities you have since by working on them early, you work on your own time. Too often people spend the majority of their days working on urgent and important tasks, and by the end of the day, they are burned out and take refuge in leisure activities. This simply perpetuates the cycle and will guarantee a lifetime of stress.

The Importance of Exercise

It is no secret that exercise improves overall health, but it also is a major reliever of stress. It works by increasing neurohormones that raise cognition and mood, reverses damage done to the brain by stress, and improves the way bodily systems communicate with each other. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, the more sedentary we are, the less efficient our bodies become in responding to stress. There are even studies that suggest exercise releases a protein that is responsible for elevated mental cognition and memory. At the very least exercise provides a healthy distraction and a much needed respite from life’s daily stressors.

Money Issues

Money problems are often the root cause of stress. No matter how hard a person works, there never seems to be enough in the bank. However, there are creative ways of making small changes that can affect your monthly income dramatically. First, you can reduce unnecessary expenses such as brand name coffee, alcohol, or buying lunches. Instead, make your own coffee, pack a lunch, and stay away from the bars. Next, you can get a second job. This does not always mean the large time commitment required of traditional jobs. Currently there are several money making apps that allow individuals to moonlight as mystery shoppers, auditors, drivers, or complete various odd jobs. Finally, make use of sites such as Craigslist and Ebay to sell off anything lying around that has outlived its purpose. This last recommendation carries the added benefit of reducing clutter in your home. 

Also, developing a monthly budget is an important part of any personal finance strategy. However, this may cause more stress than it is worth when people worry that they have over spent in some category. It is important to keep it simple enough that you can follow it. Above all, remember that a budget is a tool for success. If it begins to inhibit your progress or generate more stress than it reduces, it may be time to make revisions.

While certainly not comprehensive, these categories provide concrete suggestions that can be implemented immediately. Don’t let stress continue to rule your life. Take back control and learn to manage it. At the very least, these methods could lead to a leaner, slightly richer, more efficient you.