A few days ago, my schedule was so hectic I read an article I wrote last year called 21 Not-So-Secret Ways to Slow Down Your Day. I’ve mentioned this before—I reread my articles when I need help because the world relentlessly attempts to wear you down.

Rereading my own stuff isn’t nearly as ridiculous as how I fumble around looking for the articles! Sure, I remember my titles, but I can’t always recall specific passages. You would belly laugh if I confessed the number of times each day I need to search my own site. LOL.

As I attempted to slow my day, I realized even the best time managers (really life managers) struggle when attempting to juggle too many items. I started thinking not about managing the time, but unloading or rethinking my approach. Out popped these nine powerful questions to immediately reduce stress.

I figured accomplishing great feats while being stressed out seems to miss the point completely. So, let’s take a look at some questions you can ask yourself to help relieve your stress while you’re on your way to accomplishing your dreams.

What should I stop completely? 

I call this addition by subtraction. There are some aspects of your life or activities you can (or should) do without. Sometimes these are outings with people or work activities you can offload. Challenge yourself. You’ll thank me. Take a peek at My Favorite 8 Ways to Politely Say No to get a running start.

What can I postpone?

There are very few “obligations” in life that cannot be pushed off. Chances are you can delay most of what’s on your agenda. You know it’s true.

What can I delegate?

The first question was about total elimination. The second question was about deferring something you will do. This question helps identify activities—the what—someone else can do. The other person might not complete them as nicely as you would, but most times it’s better to unload and unburden yourself. After all, we’re talking about your sanity.

Who can help me?

This question is about “the who” can help you. Interestingly, in most cases, you don’t actually need to delegate the activity to realize benefits. Solely identifying someone who could help you should you need it will relieve some stress. It’s taking comfort in knowing there’s a contingency plan, eh, person.

What’s the next step I need to take (for this task, project, etc.)?

Oftentimes, people become consumed or stifled because they imagine eating the entire elephant in one sitting. If you allow yourself to focus on the entire project at once, you’ll likely become overwhelmed. Concentrate on the next step—only the next step. That will keep you in motion and help you progress. Before you know it, you’ll be on a roll.

If that doesn’t turn out like I hope or expect, what would I do?

I’m not a huge fan of speculating. I like to plan and prepare for all contingencies, but not worry unnecessarily. Let’s address the worrying. One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened. Simply imagine (don’t dwell on) an outcome other than you’d expect. Think through how you would handle it.

When and why was I happiest?

Whenever most people encounter a tough situation or rough patch in their life, they try to fix the problem. Sometimes, trying to fix the problem is a problem. Instead of looking for a fix to the problem, remove yourself from it. Consider your conditions when you were happiest, most successful, and so on. (This works for small projects and processes as well.) What were they? Who surrounded you? What were your daily routines?

Perhaps you’ve gotten away from some of the best parts of your life. Maybe it’s time to resuscitate them. I’m not speaking of living in the past. I’m suggesting recognizing positive experiences and surroundings and reapplying them as appropriate.

What does this experience make possible?

Imagine something awful just happened to you. For most normal human beings, their first thought is typically ugh or why me. One of the best lessons in Michael Hyatt’s new book Living Forward was regarding questions to ask yourself. I lifted this one from him. If something bad happens, try to focus on what it will allow you to do. This is living in the present and toward the future as opposed to dwelling on the past.

What can I give away?

I’m a big fan of donating clothes, furniture, computer equipment, and whatever else I can offer someone who needs them. Many times, people are stressed because they have too much stuff. Remember, everything in your house, garage, or life has a maintenance cost to it. Sometimes that cost is financial. Other times it’s emotional. Sometimes it’s just in your way!

As always, I’d love to hear from you: What are your best stress relievers?

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