How to Stress Less and Enjoy Life More

The most stressful thing I have ever done is to become a parent. I stressed about everything, but then I heard about the concept of the good enough mother, a concept coined by Donald Winnicott in 1953. This idea that good enough was all I had to be took a great burden off my shoulders. That started me on a journey to stress less and enjoy life more.

A lot of modern advice about how to stress less actually causes more stress. There is a laundry list of what you need to do to be less stressed. This list includes things like yoga, meditation, exercise, eating healthier, eating organic, preparing meals at home, going to the park, going to the spa, going on a walk, going to the ocean,  learn and employ relaxation techniques, aroma therapy, the list goes on and on. The thing is if you are short on time and or money all of this feels like more things I am not doing right and more things to stress about. The solution isn’t to do more and to try to be more perfect, but to let go of the perfection.

The first big thing you can do to reduce your stress is to embrace “good enough”. Can’t get vacuuming done every day; that is okay once a week is good enough (and actually if you have allergies more than once a week is bad for you). Can’t make awesome lunches for your kids every day, school lunch is good enough. Can’t get to work early every day, on-time is good enough.  Look for your good enough solutions that save you time and stress and embrace it. Stop setting your bar at perfect; good enough is just fine and a much happier place to live in.

Next stop the guilt. I can see those wheels spinning in your head, even as you are reading this article thinking about all the other things you should be reading or doing instead. We feel guilty about far too many things that don’t matter that much. Giving up guilt does take a bit of practice. As those guilty thoughts and feelings take over you will have to stop yourself and ask is this really something I need to feel guilty about. You sent store bought cupcakes to the bake sale instead of making them from scratch, nope not guilt worthy. You hurt the feelings of someone you care about, okay but just for one minute, then you have done your penance and it is time to stop beating yourself up.

Life is messy and beautiful and sometimes you have to embrace the mess. Take a nap sometimes. Eat dessert first. Enjoy the moment and worry less about the list of things you have to do at work, at home, or your other list of obligations. One last thing, don’t be afraid to say no. Saying no to an additional task or responsibility might feel like you are letting people down, but when you overburden yourself you let yourself down because the biggest way to reduce your stress is to make a little time in your life for doing some of the things you love.

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