It’s rare to meet someone in modern life who doesn’t complain about the amount of stress that they feel. However, there is no reason we have to put up with this unnecessary stress; to a large extent it is up to us whether we allow our lives to be dominated by stress and worries. Rather than struggling through life with layers of stress, we can definitely take a different approach.
These are ten easy ways to reduce stress in our lives.
- Meditate. Stress is the accumulation of thoughts that revolve around our mind. We feel stressed only because our mind becomes dominated by negative and stressful thoughts. Meditation teaches us how to let go our of thoughts and cultivate a quiet mind. If we can learn to dive deep within, our mental worries and fears will evaporate. No matter where we are, the inner peace that we gain from meditation will be a reserve that we can draw on in times of potential stress. As Sri Chinmoy says: “If you have inner peace, nobody can force you to be a slave of the outer reality.” 
- Do one thing at a time. It is easy to put pressure on ourselves, thinking we need to try and do several things at once. However, this multi-tasking will make us stressed. From a practical perspective, this means we may fail to do anything well. Rather than holding several problems in our mind at once, take issues one at a time. Decide which is the highest priority – deal with that as well as you can, and then move on to the next problem.
- Reduce desires. If you want to be happy and less stressed, try reducing your expectations and desires. Rather than endlessly striving to please your boss or make money, be willing to accept a happy medium. Making money isn’t the only priority in life. If we diminish our desires, then immediately we will feel our self-imposed stress evaporate.
- Don’t take on others’ burdens. We have enough problems of our own without taking on others’ troubles as well. Furthermore, we cannot really solve another person’s problems. Taking on their stress doesn’t help them; it only adds to our stress. This doesn’t mean we will be indifferent to the fate of others. No, we shall seek to offer good will and practical help, but it can be done with a sense of detachment; it doesn’t help to worry on their behalf.
- Learn to say no. If we feel there is too much going on in our life, we have to look at whether what we are doing is really necessary. Do we find ourselves doing things just because we dare not say no? If people ask us to take on unnecessary responsibility, we have to be confident and willing to say no. There is no point in becoming stressed just because we are trying to please other people.
- Learn to switch off. Life is stressful if we are always caught up in the moment and the present difficulties. However, we should learn to look at the bigger picture. Take time away from our stressful environment – go into nature and experience the vastness and peace that are all around. If we can get out of the rut that we are in, we will reduce our stress levels.
- Make time for yourself. We have 24 hours a day. We don’t have to spend every waking moment at the beck and call of others. Make it a priority to find time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty – if you can meditate for 20 minutes in the morning, the inner peace you gain will be appreciated by everyone, and you will be much happier and more productive.
- Create a relaxing environment. Is your place littered with unpaid bills, projects half done, dirty dishes and clothes to wash? If your environment is messy, you will be stressed. If you clear up your clutter and maintain simplicity and cleanliness, this in itself will have a calming effect. Rather than seeing constant reminders of things you haven’t done, you will be able to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Don’t underestimate the impact of a clean and peaceful environment.
- Remember, no one is indispensable. Feeling that you are indispensable is very stressful. However, no one is truly indispensable. If we can let go of this feeling that others cannot do without you, you will have greater humility and automatically reduce your stress levels.
- Smile. Life is a lot simpler than we might think. Are you stressed? Try smiling to yourself; try smiling to others. When we smile, we release a lot of tension and spread joy. This is a simple and effective way of lowering your stress while promoting peace and happiness.
 Sri Chinmoy, Excerpt from Peace (1995) by Sri Chinmoy