Many of us put all our stress in one basket. We rely on our jobs to fulfill our needs. And when something at work goes wrong, it feels like the whole world is falling apart. Like any great investor will tell you, you need to diversify yourself. If you were going to invest in the stock market, you wouldn’t put all your money in technology stocks because it’s too volatile. When you invest your energy into your life, you’re bound to get stressed out if you don’t have anything to fall back on.
Diversifying your life will help you reduce your stress. You’ll be taking all your energy out of one basket and putting it into two, three, or five baskets. You can easily do this by focusing on other parts of your life. Many of you may be thinking that if you diversify yourself too much then you won’t be able to focus on anything for long enough to enjoy it. It’s a valid concern, but easily refuted.
In the process of finishing this article I read a similar themed blog, How to Be Happier with What You Have from Scott H. Young at Lifehack.org. It’s really amazing how people can be on the same level in separate parts of the world.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Investors understand that diversification keeps one bad fall from ruining you financially. Keeping your interests diversified, ensures that one slip won’t make you miserable. Tying your entire life into only one area isn’t just obsessive, it’s dangerous.
Life balance has become a bit of a cliche. Balance implies a weak compromise where efforts are juggled. But the alternative to balance doesn’t need to be obsession. Having several areas of focus at a time will help smooth out the fluctuations in your experience. Pick 3-5 things that are critical for you and a dozen more you feel are important.
If you become too dependent on one thing to fulfill your needs, then you are at risk of allowing that one thing to dictate your emotional well-being.
Do you believe that driving for thirty minutes to spend thirty minutes eating lunch with a good friend is a waste of time?
If you really like the friend, you’ll probably be willing to stretch your comfort zone to get some quality time. If you didn’t like them you wouldn’t reach as far to be outgoing and pleasant. That’s all it takes to diversify your stress - Giving attention to things in your life that you care about. The hard part is getting yourself to spread out your attention to parts of your life that have played lesser roles.
Family and hobbies are the best stress relievers because you can get lost in them and you probably won’t worry about work problems. I don’t know many parents that don’t get caught up in an extracurricular activity that their child is involved in. It’s natural to forget about all your work worries and get swept away in how wonderful the child is. Making that extra effort helps balance out all the worries that seemed so important before you saw your child's excited expression.
If you are a stay at home parent, you need to diversify your attention toward rewarding hobbies. I know a few parents whose lives revolve around their kids and this doesn’t help create a healthy relationship. They depend on their kid’s happiness to make them happy. Children are going to have rough days and they need guidance, so help them learn to deal with the problem they’ve created. When your child has a problem, ask them what they think the solution could be. If possible, let them figure out how to solve their own problem. After you’ve directed their mind toward a solution, then take a break and read a magazine or maybe enjoy another hobby that gives you pleasure.
Work has constant fluctuations of stress, whether you work in an office, daycare, retail, or you're a stay at home parent. When a moment becomes overwhelming, take a few minutes to yourself as soon as you can. The bathroom is a great place to take a time out and remind yourself about something good in your life. When the moment is over, schedule a “me time” breather later in the day. You should remember that you will always need time to yourself to unwind and relax your tension.
You can learn to balance out your stress by diversifying your focus. It takes time and a little effort to steer your thoughts toward other subjects, but the more you work at it the more you’ll see your stress level decrease. If you are struggling with one part of your life then you still have two, three or five other things to enjoy.