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Stress Management Tip 51: Simplify

by Dave Balch, Founder,

There is an old saying, “The devil is in the details” which means, basically, that although something may sound simple or at least doable, the details, or the little things, that make it much more difficult that it first seemed.

If we apply that concept to coping with a serious illness or condition, we discover that it’s the little things that are causing us a lot of unnecessary stress. Therefore, it follows that we can reduce our stress by focusing on some of the little things that bother us. Think about it… what little chores or annoyances can you either combine, eliminate, or modify?

For example, we chose to have my wife’s cancer treatment 100 miles from home.  With no traffic, this means a 2-hour drive each way through downtown Los Angeles, and there is never “no traffic!”  How did we simplify that?  We make appointments in the late afternoon whenever possible.  After the appointment we stay for dinner and then drive home.  This way our drive out is mid-day when traffic is lighter, and the drive back is after the rush-hour.

Another example: each night we give our two horses some carrots and supplements before we go to bed.  Since whole carrots can choke a horse, we always cut them up. Every night.  It was a pain in the you-know-what. Here’s how we simplified: we still cut up the carrots, except that we cut enough for a week and stored them in the refrigerator.  Now we only have to mess with it once a week instead of daily. And, surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to take much more time to cut up a week’s worth that it does to cut up a day’s; most of the hassle was in bringing in the carrots and setting up the knife and cutting board.  We still brought in carrots, but we carried more in the same trip, and all we needed was a single set-up (and clean-up) instead of seven.  It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but every night that we don’t have to do it we realize what an annoyance it would have been. And we feel good about it.

One more. I hate to admit it but I take several prescription medications every morning. It is a pain to open every bottle every day and put together what I need, so I bought the largest pill case I could find which has 21 separate compartments (morning, noon, and night for a week). Since I only take meds once a day, I put together enough pills for 21 days so each morning there is one less thing to do.  I just open a compartment, chug down the pills, and I’m good to go.

Where can you take some shortcuts or do things a little differently? Take a really close look at everything you do and think about how you can either eliminate, combine, or simplify. Don’t gloss over anything, simply assuming there is nothing you can do.  You’ll be surprised what you come up with!

© 2010 by Dave Balch. All rights reserved.

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