Think Like a Kid to Reduce Stress
Discover why a kid’s point of view can benefit the life of a grownup with these tips.
The boundaries and limitations we put on ourselves as adults often fence in a host of mental stresses. But have you ever noticed how relaxed and carefree kids are? So although we're the role models for our kids most of the time, perhaps in this case, we could follow their example.
Forget about others.
Kids, at least before they become self-conscious teenagers, aren't overly concerned about what others think. By contrast, much of our adult stress stems from worrying about how others will perceive us. Knowing who you are, what you can do and, most importantly, what you can't, will strengthen you in warding off impossible expectations. Focus on being rather than doing.
As a child, George Bernard Shaw, the famous literary critic, asked his father why he shaved. As the story goes, the elder Shaw contemplated the question and then threw his razor out the window and grew a beard. Sometimes our daily habits get so ingrained that we forget to consider doing things differently. Assess your daily life with new eyes, and don't be afraid to make a few bold changes that suit you.
Work and play in spurts.
Why do only kids and judges get recesses? The hyper-efficient business world doesn't tolerate goofing off and yet workers waste, on average, more than one day (nine hours) of every workweek — and that doesn't count pointless meetings. Maybe breaks aren't such a bad thing. Frequent mental breaks help you concentrate and reduce your stress. Companies that institute a results-oriented approach to management (rather than time- or behavior-oriented ones) have seen significant increases in productivity and morale.
Toy with deadlines.
Remember the chart on your fridge when you were growing up? The one with the foil stars and smiley faces that tracked your progress and accomplishments? There's no getting around the adult reality of deadlines, but you can challenge yourself to keep projects under control. Establish reasonable deadlines, and then reward yourself handsomely when you hit them. You'll feel less stressed and more confident when you see how much you're capable of accomplishing.
Look forward, not back.
One of the most admirable attributes of kids is their ability to live in today but look forward to tomorrow. Take their cue: Learn what you can from the past, but don't dwell on it. As your children's teachers tell them, your best is always enough. So take a deep breath, live your best today and look forward to creating a new story tomorrow.