Figuring out how to decrease the stress in your life and even potentially use it to create positive forward movement can be a constantly evolving endeavor. Techniques like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation are powerful tools for managing stress and maintaining peace in your life.
But sometimes it’s necessary to have some quick and dirty tools at your disposal, to rapidly defuse a stressful situation and regain a calm and relaxed state of mind.
Here, we have a tip to share; it can be an incredibly effective way to help yourself react more positively to everyday stressors.
If Something Is Stressing You out, Ask Yourself One Simple Question
If something happens during your day that triggers a stress response in your body, take a deep breath and ask yourself one simple question:
Will this matter to me in 1 week?
The period of time you use is up to you; some people prefer to ask themselves if it will matter in 6 months or 10 years or 20 years. But even 1 week can be an effective lens through which to view many daily stress-triggers.
Examples of the 1 Week Test in Action
Here are some examples of how the 1 week test can help you release stress:
- Someone cuts you off in traffic, and you feel your blood pressure rise. You take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Will this matter to me in 1 week?” The answer is no, you probably won’t even remember this traffic incident in a week, so you relax, your blood pressure goes back down, and you go about your day.
- You’re running late to your daughter’s soccer practice. Everything seems to be going wrong, and you can feel your stress levels increasing as the clock keeps ticking. You are becoming snappy with your daughter, and it’s causing her to move even more slowly. You decide to take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Will this matter to me in 1 week?” The answer is no, being late to this one event won’t matter, but being irritable with your daughter may negatively impact your relationship with her. So you take a couple more deep breaths, let go of the pressure building to be on time, and things start going much more smoothly.
- Your boss is making an unreasonable request for you to make 5 extra calls before you can go to lunch. You feel yourself getting upset, thinking about how much time it’s going to take to make those calls and how unfair it is. You stop yourself, take a deep breath, and ask, “Will this matter to me in 1 week?” You realize that it won’t, so you relax, smile, make your 5 calls quickly, and get to lunch with plenty of time.
- You’re feeling pressure to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for your partner’s birthday party. You want just the right flowers, the perfect dinner menu, and you’re even stressing about the weather. Suddenly, you realize that none of those things will matter a week after the party; all that will be remembered by anyone are the good feelings produced by getting together in celebration. You let go of everything else, and you actually start to enjoy the party preparations rather than finding them stressful.
You can use this fast, easy, stress-diffusing technique for any minor stressor that occurs during your day. Over time, you’ll find that you automatically react less to these types of things because you’ve trained yourself to properly frame their importance in your life.