10 Commandments of Stress Reduction

10 Commandments of Stress Reduction

There is too much stress in our lives. We’re so busy and overwhelmed that our stress levels creep up. And it’s not good for us. Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to mood disorders, cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, eating disorders and more. It’s a killer. (See the WebMD article)

But it’s easy to recognize stress, but not so easy to rein it in. So today we’ll take (what I hope) is a light-hearted look at how to reduce stress with the 10 commandments of stress reduction.

Thou Shalt Not Compare

Discontent is rife when you compare your [fill in the blank] to someone else’s [fill in the same blank]. Comparing careers, paychecks, houses, clothes, cars, family, accomplishments, talents and anything else leads to stress. We see what someone else has and we think we should have it. That puts the pressure on us to either achieve it, or to beat ourselves up because we’re not there. Remember: never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.

Thou Shalt Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is one of the best things we can rejuvenate ourselves. Yet according to the Center for Disease Control, 35% of us routinely get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. (If you want to see some shocking stats, check out the CDC article)

Stress causes poor sleep and poor sleep cause us to be poor at coping with stress. Chicken and egg, anyone? But we can control how much time we allocate with sleep, so it seems a good place to start to manage stress.

Thou Shalt Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, those fun feel-good chemicals. It can also relieve the muscle tension we carry as the result of stress. The Mayo Clinic recommends exercising as a great way to ease stress.

Thou Shalt Realize Thy Circle of Control

“Not my pig, not my farm.”

It’s one of my favorite sayings. It means that I have to realize that most of what I see is beyond my control. Trying to control what I can’t is an exercise in futility and it is stress-inducing.

Unless that pig is in my flower beds, I can’t concern myself with it.

Or as Elsa says, “Let it go.”

Thou Shalt Recognize Thy Humanity

I am going to go out on a limb here and make the assumption that if you are reading this you are human. (My cat didn’t seem interested in reading it through)

If you are human, you are flawed. (Bet you didn’t see that coming?)

If you are flawed, and you are, you will make mistakes and sometimes emotional and sometimes irrational and sometimes irritable and sometimes a hot mess. Roll with it. Give yourself the forgiveness you need and don’t spend your time beating yourself up for being human.

Thou Shalt Recognize Your Options

Too many people feel trapped. Trapped by a job, debt, family craziness, violence, and more.

Everyone can have choices. Notice that I didn’t say “has”. I said “can have”. Because sometimes the choices are something you have to work to get.

When you recognize that you have options, even the option to work for a different choice, it can reduce the stress. It may be something you have to do, like train for another job, or something you have to conquer, like fear of being alone.

I may never use my teaching license again. But believe me, it is a great stress reducer when I deal with an intolerable assignment at work, because I know I have the option to become a teacher again. I’m not trapped by being able to do just one thing.

Thou Shalt Ask For Help

You may have not noticed, but there are a lot of people on this planet. And most of them are pretty decent. If you need help, ask for it. You don’t have to do this alone.

The stress of a task that is just a bit too much can be eased by asking for help.

Thou Shalt Accept Help

Sometimes we forget that we can ask for help. And sometimes people offer to help anyway. Accept help as it is offered.

Many years ago, after my husband had fallen off a ladder and was facing a lengthy recovery, I was refusing offers of help. One lady said to me that I needed to accept the help offered, because people needed to feel like they were supporting my family. It was my giving a gift: allowing them to help.

Accepting help isn’t just about you. It’s about the other person, too. And you might be giving someone something precious in allowing them to help you.

Thou Shalt Not Wallow

Pigs wallow. They roll around in puddles or mud or piles of excrement.

Humans wallow too. And we wallow in metaphorical puddles of mud and piles of excrement. We can stay stuck in our bad places – the places of sorrow, anger, despair and bitterness.

Living in those dark places increases our stress because we are focused on the darkness, not the light.

As a friend once said to me, “Everyone walks through the valley of darkness. It’s your choice to pitch a tent.”

Thou Shalt Take A Break

We go-go-go-go-go in our lives. We move at a pace that our ancestors would find incomprehensible. But this fast pace isn’t sustainable. Remember, the first marathoner, Pheidippides, ran the distance to deliver a message, then keeled over and died.

We aren’t made to operate at full speed. Like a car, if you run it at maximum RPMs, you will burn out the engine.

Take a break. Reduce your stress in that time of slowness. Relax, and enjoy.


I hope you have enjoyed my 10 commandments of stress reduction, pigs and all. See if you can reduce your stress by picking one or two of these things and trying them out today.