Less to stress
July 26, 2012, 12:55 pm
Filed under: Behavior, Budget, Mind, Minimalism, Motivation, Writing

When I think of paychecks, bank accounts or income the one thought bubbling up time and time again is “It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend.” This was a tidbit of advice my grandfather repeated. It reminded me to stay focused on my actions and not the circumstantial facts of life that may or may not change (like my income or lack of any potential raise.)

How difficult though to really embrace this wisdom because it involves a self-control in a society that is swarming with “must-haves” and a tendency toward enjoyment, excitement and pleasure, which typically leads to a lot of socializing (and draining your wallet on drinks and yummy restaurant food.)

This is one of the reasons why I am embracing the road of minimalism. It makes it easier to say “no” in a culture that is all about “yes, yes, yes.”

I can say that I feel happier with alternating two pairs of shoes, because I don’t have the pressure of wanting more. My two pairs of summer shoes are pretty darn cute and versatile and they get the job done.

I feel more peaceful with having one drink with friends while out, because I have more money to save and pay bills.

I am ok with a calm evening at home with a close friend or family member, because it means my energy that would have been expended dancing, drinking and chatting up strangers is used toward learning, exploring life and planning for the future.

For me, minimalism is all about quality over quantity. And life with less bills, less things and less complication leads to reduced stress. Less stress means more authentic enjoyment of life.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” – Psalm 23

Below is a complete article by The Living On A Dime newsletter, published by:
Kellam Media and Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 193, Mead, CO 80542

Read on for more tips on how to stress less.

How to Relieve and Reduce Stress

Here is a list people say are the main causes of stress in their lives and
they are listed in order of importance to them.

Main Causes of Stress

*       Money
*       Economy
*       Work
*       Family Responsibilities

To find the source for your stress you may have to look deep.


*       You have a good paying job, so is lack of money really a problem or
is it because you don’t bother to pay your bills, you are over spending, or
the spouse who isn’t paying the bills is spending too much and really
causing you problems?

*       Maybe the problem is not a lack of money but a lack of contentment.
You are frustrated because you aren’t getting enough money for all your
wants and for fun things. You are trying to satisfy emotional needs with
material things and are stressed because you can’t get satisfied.

These are just a few examples to illustrate how you need to really look down
deep to find the real source of your stress in the area of finances.

Family Responsibilities

Make your home stress free:

*       Have comfortable (not necessarily expensive) things like couches,
chairs, beds, lighting.

*       Keep things in order. Have a place for everything and keep it there.
More stress is caused by having to look for lost things.

*       Have as much of a routine as possible, like dinner at 5 most days,
church on Sunday, children in bed by 8 and meatloaf for dinner on Fridays.

*       Relax. Even though I just said have a routine some people have their
lives too controlled and organized and though that may make them feel good
it can stress out their friends and family. There is a happy medium.

*       Wear comfortable clothes. It is so frustrating to wear a pair of
shoes or jeans that rub or are too tight all the time. That is all you can
feel and think about.

*       Less is best. If you find yourself spending ages trying to figure
out which of your 25 outfits to wear, cut your wardrobe back to 10 outfits.
If you are stressed about what shampoo to buy, pick one you like and stick
with it.

*       Forget about returning the e mails and social engagements. Now I
don’t mean you have to give them up all together, but control them. You
don’t need to return that e-mail right now. You don’t have to go to every
function you or your kids are asked to go to. You are in control of your
schedule. If you are feeling out of control then you probably are so take
the control back. Say no and stop doing some things. If you don’t then stop
complaining about how overwhelmed you are about your life because it is your

Stressing about things never fixes them.

I always say that if we spent as much time dealing with the things that are
causing our stress as we do stressing over things, we would solve a good
many of our problems and, if nothing else, we would have a much better
attitude. I mention this all the time but I think it’s worth repeating. Most
of the things we worry about in our lives never happen. If you don’t know if
you believe that, try keeping a worry diary. Every time any little worry
though comes into your head write it down. At the end of a week or month,
look back over it and see how many times the things you stressed over
actually happened.

Arrive 15 minutes early

I once heard a psychiatrist say that the one thing that could relieve 50% or
more of stress in the average person’s life it to start arriving 10-15
minutes early everywhere they went. Think about what a typical day is like
and what a difference it would make if you made sure you arrived 15 minutes
early. If you get stopped by a train or traffic jam or the kids can’t find
their shoes it is not as tragic because you have a few minutes’ wiggle room
for unexpected things. Not to mention how much better the tone of your day
is if you aren’t sliding into work 15 minutes late compared to getting there
15 minutes early and having time to prepare for the day.

Besides, I personally believe always arriving late is very rude and
inconsiderate of others. It is like saying. “My time and the things I am
doing or have to do is more important than meeting you – you can just wait
for me. It is ok for you to give up your time waiting for me because your
time is not as valuable as mine.” You would never dream of saying that to
someone but that is really what you are communicating.

Back off

When you have one of those days where everything goes wrong then stop, back
off and change course. Call a friend who makes you laugh, spend 30 minutes
(even if you don’t think you have 30 minutes) to watch a funny show, take 30
minutes out and work on your favorite hobby or, in the case of a pressing
work deadline, stop for 15 minutes and clear your mind. Do anything that
completely changes your course from what you were doing. I curl up with a
cup of tea and read a relaxing fun book, not one on self improvement, how to
earn more money or how to raise better kids. Those are not relaxing.

I know sometimes when you’re at work or with a baby and other times like
this, it may be a little hard to do but do it when you can. If nothing else,
take a deep breathe and count to ten.

The Economy

There isn’t much we can do for the economy as a whole but you can learn to
take control of your own finances and learn to be wise concerning them. We
often look at the bad state of our finances and then we look at the
economies of our country and the world, which are also bad, and become so
overwhelmed that we just give up. It’s important to take one day at a time.
If I looked at what I had to do next month and also focused on what my kids
and my extended family all had to get done, I would collapse but by focusing
on my own personal day I can handle it.

We need to do that with finances. Stop listening to the news and worrying
about what is happening in the world. I’m not saying to bury your head in
the sand or that those things don’t affect us. I’m saying that so often we
get intently focused on the wrong things and that focus causes us to become
paralyzed with fear. Then we can’t function in our own worlds, causing our
finances to falter so we say “See, things really are as bad as they say.”
Sometimes our reality is that we just aren’t dealing with things in our own

Don’t stress over the economy. Stop watching the news and listening to the
radio or whining friends. Even when the economy is bad, there’s not much you
personally can do to change it so don’t waste precious energy worrying. Take
the time you would usually spend worrying and work out a plan to get your
own finances under control.


Often there is a lot of stress at work. You can have a high stress job or
you might just not like the job you are doing. Either can cause you a lot of
stress. You have a few choices. First, you can change jobs. I know everyone
says that in this economy there are no jobs but there really are many jobs
still out there. You may have to take a pay cut, change hours, change the
distance you drive, get out of your comfort zone or something else which you
alone have to weigh against the existing stress for your own personal life.

Look for options and don’t be afraid to step out and try them. Of course I’m
not saying to march in and tell your boss to take his job and stuff it until
you have weighed all the pros and cons and have checked into and actually
gotten another job. You do need to use common sense. On the other hand, I
know that some people can get so stuck in a rut or controlled by fear that
they don’t look for something different or explore their other options.

If for whatever reason you can’t leave a stressful job, then you need to at
least learn to leave your work at the office and don’t bring it home. I am
talking about the problems and stresses of work and not the physical work
itself ,which you need to leave there too.

This is why I think it is sometimes easier for men to be in the work force
than women. Men are somewhat better at compartmentalizing than women. I know
there are exceptions, but in most cases, this is true.

One last thing you can do to relieve stress at work is to avoid taking it
all personally. Do your very best job and a little extra at work. Then when
you boss rants and raves or is unfair, at least you know that between you
and God you have done your best and you can let God deal with the injustice.

Bottom Line

For me, personally, I know that God is in control of every minute of my day.
All of it. And I know He loves me even more than I love myself and my family
so when something knocks me between the eyes I just stop and pray, “Take
this over and do what is best or show me the wisdom on what you want me to

Stress can kill you. That is why the Bible tells us over and over, “Fear
not”, “do not be afraid” or leave things in God’s hands– because God knows
it can kill us. We spend hours stewing over every bite of food we put in our
mouths and stressing over whether it is healthy, organic or the right thing
to eat because if we don’t eat right we will get sick and/or die… yet the
stress of worrying can kill us just as easily if not more so and we hardly
give it a second thought.

Stress is a silent killer because our eyes are so blinded to it. It is so
much easier to obsess about our physical bodies and needs without realizing
it could be the emotional and spiritual needs that are being overlooked and
that are truly killing us.


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