Do you believe life is possible without stress? Stress drives our decisions (and indecision), pressures us to get work done, and creates a necessary suspense to experience life.

Many products and services in our society cater to relieving people from the physical duress that stress imposes on us. Sore back from standing and working retail all day? Get a massage! Is your house a mess because you don’t have the time to clean? Head to the store to get some storage units or hire a maid to clean up for you. Did you have a rough week with your coworkers? Enjoy a “relaxing” meal with friends on the weekend.

I think that stress can be eliminated through a few simple changes. Changing your perspective is ultimately the best way to reduce stress, but let’s look at a few ways to stop stressing and start living.

1. Let Go of Control

The only thing you control is yourself. In order to find some peace, you must accept this and work on controlling your own life before you consider trying to control everything around you. Trying to control every situation will only increase anxiety when it things don’t work out the way you imagine. First recognize that you are trying to manipulate outcomes. Ask yourself why you seek this control. This is the source of your anxiety- once you acknowledge it, let it go.  Learning to let go of the outcomes of everyone else’s lives is a major step towards reducing stress.

2. Slow down

Take a look at your daily schedule; Wake up at 7am, make breakfast, pack lunch, go to the gym, head to work, run errands after work, pick up the kids or meet up with colleagues, make dinner, go to bed at 11pm.  Every hour is jam-packed with an itinerary that feels essential to your life. But have you ever slowed down to appreciate life for what it is? Learn to enjoy. Walk a few paces slower on your way to work – look at the people around you, observe the architecture, inhale the morning air.  Enjoy your meals instead of rushing through them.  Enjoy your friends instead of thinking of time together as an appointment to check off your list.

3. Seek some Zen

Simplify, simplify, simplify is the essence of a Zen lifestyle. Are you surrounded by clutter and chaos that distracts you and causes more stress? Let these material things go. Start by clearing your workspace. Take every piece of paper and put it in a pile. Sort through this pile and keep only what is most pressing. If you do need to keep many of these papers, sort them according to: 1) Trash, 2) File immediately, 3) Do it immediately. And do not let it sit there again – do the things that need to get done right as you sort them. Next, clear away all the unnecessary knick knacks and decorations of your space. Keep it clean and simple.