How to Destress? By Caring Less!
Just stop caring so much! It sounds so easy, doesn’t it?
While there are certainly many things that can cause us stress, if we can start to sort them out instead of allowing them to tangle all together, we can start making steps in the right direction.
We talk a lot about mantras here at Daily Life, and they can be entirely helpful in difficult situations – to calm you down and re-center you, or to simply remind you of the bigger picture in a tough moment. When it comes to caring less about what other people think of you, here is a delicious one to start with:
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Interpretation is personal, but I think of this to mean, “What I think and feel is in my control and I make my own boundaries. I will not give my power to or change my mind for someone who wants to paint the world in negativity.” When we’re too worried about something or feel shaken, remembering your mantra can set you back on track!
Let’s talk about some ideas around how you can start learning to care less about things that really don’t matter - and how mastering this philosophy can bring blue skies to your life where once there seemed only clouds. Imagine having more time for the things you love because you’re less worried about the inconsequential stuff that makes you shrink with discomfort.
Who are You Trying to Impress?
Do you say sorry a lot? What are you apologizing for? Canadians are especially known for this habit, as though we are constantly concerned that we are offending people and that to be considered rude would be equivalent to actually punching someone in the face.
Many of us stress about the impression we are leaving on others. When you really think about it, do you define your personality and self-esteem based on how your friends and colleagues would describe you? Is that why you are apologizing, because you somehow haven’t measured up to their standards for you? Or are you trying to convince them you’ll be better?
This can be particularly dangerous. Don’t ever forget that measuring yourself by the opinions of others may only offer you a skewed vision of yourself. Some people take glee in manipulating others who are not as sure of themselves. If you have a shady boss or co-worker, you are giving them more power over you than they should have!
Learning to care less at work can be the key to a rewarding career, and a solution for those of us who are stuck in cycles of overachievement, exhaustion, and worry that we simply can’t do enough. You will stop expending your precious energy on impressing people, and focus it on the quality and quantity of work you are capable of completing.
Recognize What You Can Control, Change, or Let Go Of
Consider this: whether at work, with your friends or at home with your family, how are you showing up? Do you burst into every meeting, slightly late, in a panic, breathlessly mentioning that you just came from another meeting or project? How do you feel when one of your co-workers shows up like this? Do you jump at the chance to work with them?
Do you slam through your front door in a frenetic burst, dumping all that energy onto your family who was quietly enjoying dinner? Have you stopped to think about how your stress is affecting them? Sometimes we need to hold up a mirror to understand how we are affecting our own environment in order to see how to improve.
Take a good look at yourself, your schedule, your job. Can you separate the causes of your stress? Are they coming from multiple areas? Draw a diagram if you have to! Once you can break them up, you can begin to focus on what you can and can’t control. Doesn’t that sound empowering?
Who are you spending time with? Surrounding yourself with positive people can enhance your mental and physical wellness, while letting toxic bozos steal your time and energy has the opposite effect. One way to start your journey to stressing less is to begin identifying the emotional vampires in your world who don’t deserve any more of your good ju-ju.
Stop Judging Other People - and Yourself
Caring less about the superficial things we immediately notice in others can start us on a road to kindness and less stress.
Chances are, if you start to think about all people as similar in their basic humanity and needs, you’ll feel less competitive with them, less threatened, and more willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
Stress can stir up when we fear we are not measuring up to others, and we have to work harder or find ways to go above and beyond everyone else to prove we are good enough. That can end up leading into a very vicious cycle and potential burnout. You can see how that kind of outlook can be more and more draining over time.
Instead, focus on why you feel the need to go out of your way to compare yourself to others. Are they getting special treatment at work? Are they better looking than you? If the answer is something they can’t help, you may be projecting your baggage onto them. That’s a great place to start caring less. Worry about your own stuff. Let people have their own issues.
“Anger, resentment and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others – it only changes yours.” – Shannon L. Alder
Why Are You Taking Yourself so Seriously?
One of the best pieces of advice for those of us who are struggling with serious stress is to look to a totally different perspective. You’re not that big of a deal. It sounds harsh, but it can have a powerful effect on your stress levels. Maybe we’re just holding ourselves up to an unrealistic standard?
“When you lose your ego, you win. It really is that simple.” – Shannon L. Alder
We’ve grown up with the concept of self-esteem, which is defined as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” Going too far with this concept can lead to high levels of stress because being super confident and satisfied can build us up to a point where we feel we have to be perfect, or that we have an inflated perception of ourselves. That, or we may fall prey to narcissism.
When we then don’t perform to the standard we have set for ourselves, we have much farther to fall. Enter this new concept: self-compassion. Instead of self-esteem, there is a new wave looking to self-compassion, defined as “giving ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.”
Think about it - when your best friend has a horrible fight with their partner or messes up a project at work, or even forgets your birthday, how do you react? You’re probably forgiving, calming and supportive because nobody is perfect, right? Why don’t you give yourself the same consideration?!
We are our own harshest critics.
Not Giving a F%#*$!
You’ve probably heard about this movement(?), but what exactly does it mean? People who have mastered this “art” most often come across as confident, together, and very chilled out. They don’t seem to worry much about anything and always know where they draw their line. How can you too become such a social wizard?
One of the greatest articles I’ve seen on this is by Mark Manson, who very clearly (and with fun pictorials - mind the recurring expletives) lays out the philosophy. Essentially, we worry too much about fitting in and the opinions of others, even people we don’t know.
I like to look at is as if I have a jar of f%#*$s and there are a finite number of them. They represent the limited energy I have to be patient, interested, passionate. Let’s say they recharge after a few days or weeks. If I only have 10 f%*#$s, I’m going to be very careful about how I dole them out, right?
Just like your to-do list, you start to naturally prioritize the things that really deserve your energy.
You know that lady at the coffee shop who freaks out when the barista doesn’t hand over the 18-word-latte at the exact right temperature or forgets the sleeve? She gives too many f%*#$s. She probably walks around exhausted. If she took that in stride, she’d save her f%*#$s up for something that will need the energy she just expended on a dumb old coffee.
Another thing to consider is this: if you are freaking out and frustrated all the time, people won’t be as affected when you take issue with them or if you complain about something. If you generally don’t care about the little things, when a big whopper comes along and you need to make a real impact, you are much more likely to make an impression!
Caring less doesn’t have to mean you become careless. For a lot of us, the thought of not trying your best at all times seems counter-intuitive. Perhaps being your best doesn’t entail that you ensure everyone else thinks you’re rad, but that you think you are and that you protect that confidence and control with all of your f%*#$s.
There are so many, many different kinds of stress, but no matter which type you are suffering from, you can find relief from learning to be resilient. If you can, start collecting the tools that will help you rebuild yourself faster and stronger every time you struggle or falter.
Ask for help from someone who makes you feel confident, powerful and important. You can do this.