By Judith Orloff, MD
Americans are addicted to ever-increasing levels of stress, according to the most recent APA “Stress in America” survey (here’s the link).
More than 4 out of 10 adults (42 percent) report that their stress levels have increased over the past 5 years. Nearly 4 out of 10 (36 percent) say stress affects their overall happiness a great deal, and about the same number (37 percent) have felt overwhelmed in the past month by stress.
But here’s what’s so fascinating. About half of adults (48 percent) report “being unable to control the important things in their life very or fairly often.” No wonder they’re stressed! Trying to control the outcome is what causes stress, not relieves it!
The key to relieving all different types of stress lies in letting go of control. Surrendering control, not pushing, not rushing, and not trying to create a desired outcome helps us get in the flow, relax, and be flexible. When we learn how to do this, everything gets easier, from how we deal with our finances, to how we get along with our love partners.
In my book, The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life, I look at some common forms of stress we’re addicted to, and how we can let them go.
Let go of “success stress.”
In the APA survey, money (71 percent), work (69 percent), and the economy (59 percent) are the most commonly reported sources of stress. To let go of success stress, stop comparing yourself to others, and focus instead on what you’re grateful for. This will help you get your mind off what you lack. If you find yourself envying someone’s success, ask yourself what you admire and can learn from them. Finally, wish them well. These simple strategies will help you change the way you think of success, and will free you up to change some of your behaviors around money and work.
Let go of relationship stress.
Nearly half (46 percent) of adults in the survey say they lost patience or yelled at their spouse, partner, or children when stressed in the last month. You can let go of relationship stress by practicing staying calm, no matter what buttons your loved one has pushed. Avoid reacting or getting defensive. Let the other person completely finish talking, then pause, before you respond. Instead of trying to change their mind, accept where they’re coming from and try to be compassionate. When we stop trying to control relationships, they become less stressful.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..
– Judith Orloff MD is author of The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life (April 1, 2014) upon which this article is based. An assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and NY Times bestselling author, Dr. Orloff teaches workshops nationwide, has given a TED talk on this book, and has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, Today, PBS, CNN, NPR, and many others. More information at drjudithorloff.com.