March 28, 2022

How to Troubleshoot Your Stress: A Simple Cheap Trick

Here’s a simple trick for improving your life by troubleshooting your stress.

It’s easy. It’s free. You can do it fast.

You probably already use the technique in other areas of your life.

Here’s how the idea came to me.

For fun, I make productivity apps on Microsoft’s PowerApps platform. Sound complicated? It isn’t.

Basically, I try something.

It doesn’t work.

I try something else, again, and again, until…

…it works.

It’s basically like flipping switches on and off.

  • Flip a switch.
  • Turn on the app.
  • See what happens.
  • It doesn’t work.
  • Turn it off.
  • Flip another switch.
  • Turn it on again.

Don’t make 27 changes all at once. If you make too many changes, you can’t figure out which things helped.

Just take one at a time.

Same troubleshooting method works for your life.

If you’re stressed out, make a list of the things you do each day — not just the things you think are stressful. List everything.

Include eating breakfast, driving to work, watching TV, doing household chores, using social media. Make sure you list who you regularly talk to.

Now, read your list.

Which items (and people) are optional or discretionary? Draw a little circle next to items you could stop temporarily, without physical harm to you or others.

Now, make a list of things you don’t do that you probably should; like get more sleep, drink more water, eat healthful food, pray, walk for exercise, relax with your spouse, read a book.

You get the idea.

There are several ways approach troubleshooting.

  1. Flip the OFF switch on one habit, and see what happens
  2. Flip an ON switch on one habit and see what happens
  3. Flip one habit OFF and one habit ON and see what happens.

Start tomorrow morning.

I’ll bet there’s something you want to do that you’re not doing yet. I can almost guarantee there’s something you do often (or someone you speak with regularly) that could use a lot LESS attention from you without causing Planet Earth to stop spinning.

I’m guessing you already know several of the troubleshooting steps most likely to reduce your stress.

Don’t try to make some sweeping life-altering change. Just do a little experiment for a couple of days and see what happens.

Reducing the “have to”, “should” or “must” items from your life can provide a peace that passes understanding, and make you more effective and fun to be around.