Stress is part of life, especially these days. You are not alone if you have too much to do, competing demands, relationship conflicts and financial worries that occupy your thoughts or keep you up at night.
When you’re dealing with several issues at the same time, you can easily feel overwhelmed. At worst, you might feel like you’re going through the motions of your life and not in control of any of it.
At that point, stress is more than a frustration or an annoyance—it can be a danger to your health and well-being. With all of the available articles and published research on that topic, you probably already knew that. Yet, you may feel helpless to change because you are caught up in a non-stop cycle of activity, worry and fear.
One of the key causes of stress is a misalignment between priorities and actions. For example, you may believe that your family is your highest priority, yet you consistently miss important family events or celebrations in favor of work. Or, you may state that your health is very important, but have not scheduled an annual physical or taken action to reduce your blood pressure or weight.
While some factors influencing stress are out of your control (job loss or illness of a friend), there are many more that are within your control. It can shift your mood or even heart rate and blood pressure to focus on something on which you can take immediate action.
Knowing that you are not living in alignment with your highest priorities is stressful, and you can change that. Here’s how you might begin:
- List the highest four priorities in your life.
- Rate yourself from 1-5 on how closely your life reflects these (i.e. Are you walking your talk?)
- Pick one priority that is out of alignment (rated 1-3).
- Identify one small step you can take within the next two weeks to make this priority more prominent in your life. Do not underestimate the power of any step in shifting the whole pattern. The point is to begin the change.
- Repeat the exercise every 3 months or more often.
If there are several areas of out sync, check in with yourself and let you heart tell you where to start.