I'm sure you don't want to make your life more difficult, and yet it's incredibly easy to do so. Whether it's by packing your schedule full to the brim, going about things the hard way, or trying to be "perfect" at every turn, it's possible to create unnecessary stress in your life — sometimes without even realizing it.
This happens for a variety of reasons, which (of course) often stem from our long-held beliefs about life. As certified life coach Janelle Corrie says, "We're taught all sorts of things growing up about the way things should be or how/when we should do things. Then we grow up with these innocent barriers that basically imprison us later in life."
For a few examples, think about any old habits that may be spilling over into your current life. Maybe your tendency towards procrastination, or your pesky habit of running to friends for everything. These all seem OK, but are actually habits that lead to so much stress.
That's why, as Corrie tells me, it's necessary to challenge the the habits and thought processes you've come to accept. "Sometimes we have to ask why," she says. If you feel like your life is annoyingly difficult, it may be time for a little self-reflection. Read on for a few bad habits, as they may be a good place to start when it comes to making some changes.
1. Giving Into Procrastination
Whether it's letting the garbage pile up for forever, or never getting around to starting that huge project at work, it seems it's human nature to put things off. And yet, this bad habit isn't one you should let yourself get too used to. "Putting things off takes up brain space and can increase anxiety around the particular task, especially if there's a deadline," Corrie. If you just start, you'll suddenly feel all sorts of carefree.
2. Letting Other People's Opinions Overwhelm You
While it's perfectly fine to ask a friend for advice, so many of us let our friend's opinions (as well as those from fifty five other people) completely overwhelm us. "Truth is, most people already know their own answer," says life coach Lauren Zander, author of Maybe It's You. Advice from friends might help reassure you. But if you can leave them out of the process, suddenly decision-making will feel like a breeze.
3. Not Asking For Help When You Need It
A lot of people are afraid to ask for help, since they're afraid it'll cast them as "the failure." And yet, asking for help is an essential skill when it comes to preventing overwhelm. As Corrie tells me, it'll not only help you get stuff done, but it can also save you from the anxiety and resentment that can build whilst waiting for people to run to the rescue. ('Cause often, they never do.)
4. Giving Into Perfectionism
Sometimes sh*t needs to get done, whether it's "perfect" or not. And yet, so many of us get hung up on perfection — sometimes to the point of driving ourselves mad. "Perfectionist, or all-or-nothing thinking, can make life feel much more difficult or complicated than it needs to be," says Los Angeles-based psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. It causes you to get hung up on things being "a certain way," which can lead to an endless — and exhausting — cycle.
5. Feeling Like Life Is Happening "To You"
Life can be tough. No doubt about it. But whatever you do, don't adopt the mentality that life is "happening to you." As life coach Carolina Caro tells me, this way of thinking takes away all your power and makes change feel difficult. And clearly, that's not good.
6. Never Taking The Time To Feel Grateful
We've all heard someone sing the praises of gratitude journals, and for good reason. Going through life sans gratitude can make things feel decidedly gloomy. So, as Corrie tells me, go ahead and let yourself feel grateful — even if it's just while cleaning the bathroom.
7. Letting Yourself Obsess For Forever
This is easier said than done for some people. But if you can put a stop to your obsessing habit, go ahead and do it. As Thomas tells me, engaging in this type of thinking can lead to procrastination, chaos, and a lack of balance in your life. And really, nobody has time for that.
8. Taking On Too Many Projects At Once
This can apply to an overly-packed schedule, but it also applies to life goals. As Corrie says, "Big goals are overwhelming, can cause feelings of inadequacy, discomfort, and anxiety before we even try, and then we're less likely to take action." So do yourself a favor, break things up into more manageable steps, and you should feel worlds better.
9. Thinking Everything Is The End Of The World
If you find yourself met with a little hiccup in your schedule, do you roll with the proverbial punches? Or do you feel like it's the absolute end of the world? If you trend towards the latter, it can really start to wear on your psyche. As Thomas tells me, thinking this way can magnify and catastrophize the reality of something. And that can cause way more stress than is necessary.
10. Doing Things The Same Way For Forever
If your current routine isn't working for you, it makes sense to change it. And yet so many of us never do, career expert Heather Monahan tells me. While it's not always easy (or comfortable) to make changes in your life, it's totally necessary if you want things to feel easier.
11. Making Too Many To-Do Lists
While this may feel like the single best thing to do to make your life easier, it actually often has quite the opposite effect. "We often create lists as a means of procrastination, or a hunt for 'evidence' of what we're supposed to do," says mental health counselor Lindsey Pratt, MA. Not to mention, an overwhelming array of to-do lists just makes things more confusing. It's a much better idea to create one master list and then get to it.
Procrastination, negative thinking, to-do lists — it's all a slippery slope that can make life feel stressful and overwhelming. By avoiding these little traps, you can start to feel more in control of your life. Sounds much better, right?
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