Goals for Less Stress

Make It Your Goal to Stress Less

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We all have goals that we set in various areas of our lives. Sometimes these goals are remembered for years and become a driving force in our existence; other times, they are forgotten in an hour. This can depend on how we think about our goals as much as the goals themselves. But setting the wrong goals can lead to stress, and setting the right goals can lead to a healthier, happier, less stressful life.

The following are some goals that can make a significant difference in your life, and tips on how to reach them.

Goals That Relieve Stress

Many of the things we believe will make our lives better actually make a minimal difference in our overall life satisfaction once we are used to these changes, a process known as "habituation." Some changes, however, can truly alter our lives for the better. Here are some of them.

  • Exercise Regularly. Maintaining a healthy body gives you options in your life in that you'll have more energy to do what you value, you'll be more likely to maintain your health into later life, and you'll feel confident in your physical abilities and appearance. Regular exercise also builds resilience toward stress, so it's a habit that really pays off.
  • Find A Stress Relief Habit and Stick With It. Speaking of resilience toward stress, maintaining healthy stress management habits can enable us to better handle the challenges that come our way. Practicing effective stress management habits can also help us to avoid unhealthy coping habits that can amount to self-sabotage.
  • Invest In Your Friendships. Good friends can carry you through the challenges you will face in life, and make your life more enjoyable. Bad friends (or no friends) can leave you feeling stressed and along. Setting the goal to get together with friends regularly, maintain at least a few close friendships, and help those who need us can really pay off in the end, as strong social support is a commonly cited factor in life satisfaction and resilience.
  • Invest In Your Growth. You may not feel you have time to develop your hobbies when you're busy with everything you need to do, but having hobbies and skills that we hone, activities known as gratifications, can relieve stress and increase life satisfaction. Make a goal to become better at something, or try something new that you've always been interested in experiencing. You'll be glad you did.
  • Savor What You HaveMaintaining gratitude can really help you feel less stressed in your life. So can savoring your experience. This expands your awareness of what is good in your life and tips the scales in your favor in terms of happiness and resilience as well.

Setting The Right Type Of Goals

Just as important as the goals you set is the way you go about reaching these goals. You can have fantastic goals for a peaceful life, but if you go about attaining those goals in ways that create undue stress, you may find that the process of working toward these changes is more stress than it's worth.  

One of the most important things to remember is to set goals that you can actually meet. This seems like common sense, but that's not always the case. People commonly set goals that seem unattainable, hoping that lofty goals will serve as an inspiration that leads to greater success than could otherwise have been attained or even imagined, and sometimes this is the case.

More often, however, too-high goals can lead to excessive stress, lack of motivation, and ultimately, feelings of defeat if the goals are not met, particularly if each step along the way isn't celebrated or even acknowledged. The key is to break larger goals into smaller ones, so that each time you have a goal in your mind, you know you can achieve it and celebrate your hard work within a reasonable amount of time and with a doable level of effort, and then move on to the next goal. Keeping the larger goal in mind as you work toward it is fine, but remind yourself that each of your smaller goals is an important part of the larger picture, and celebrate each of the small steps you take toward the life you want to live.

For more on goal setting, read these articles about setting goalsmaintaining goals, and the difference between goals and resolutions.

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