A Ridiculously Simple Way To Reduce Stress And Enjoy More Of Life

“Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” ~Anne Wilson Schaef, author

A couple of months ago, I made a decision that has dramatically reduced my level of stress.

I sought help.

I hired a helper who happens to be a good friend. That makes it really nice, but even if she weren't my friend, I would still be beside myself with joy that I made this decision.

Have you ever noticed how reticent we are to seek help?

Maybe it's our American notion of independence — “I can manage this myself.” And sure, we probably can. But at what cost? For me it was my peace of mind and a sense that things were spinning out of control. Many of the things I could do, I wasn't doing. And my heart was palpitating.

As my business has grown, I have ever-increasing responsibilities with my work. That's a good thing because I love what I do. I'm drawn to my work like a bee to honey, sometimes at the expense of other things that need to be done.

I've tried to be mindful of creating balance between work, time with my family and friends, exercise, and down-time. I've virtually stopped watching TV, surfing the net (other than for research for my work), shopping, or reading magazines.

In my perfect world, my time would be spent . . .

  • writing, coaching, teaching (my work)
  • doing things with and for my kids
  • socializing with my friends
  • eating out on occasion at places I can get great food and a nice glass of wine
  • exercising (rebounding, walking, hiking, biking)
  • reading great books
  • traveling and having new adventures
  • learning new skills
  • enjoying cultural activities (theater, dance, music)
  • spending time outside and in nature for relaxation

I do enjoy these activities quite often, but there are always other life demands that encroach on my time. Sometimes these other things monopolize so much of my time that I feel agitated and out-of-sorts.

It's a conundrum.

If I ignore these unwanted tasks, I feel stressed and anxious.

If I address all of them, I feel frustrated that my precious time is being misspent.

I know and accept there are things we must  do to keep our lives running. There are always dishes to wash, laundry, meals to prepare, kids to drive, appointments to go to, etc. And I try to bring a sense of mindfulness and joy to these tasks.

But there are some other dreaded tasks and responsibilities that pile up and stare at me with accusing eyes until I deal with them. These are the tasks that reproduce like bunnies and make me hyperventilate because I can never seem to stay on top of them.

The tasks I dread and avoid (even though the avoidance creates more stress!!) are not rocket science projects, but I simply don't like them. Even when I try to be mindful and bless them and look for the good in them, they just feel like drudgery.

For me these include . . .

  • paying bills
  • filing things
  • sorting through mail and deciding what's important
  • calling and dealing with the insurance company, the phone company, the cable company, and any of the other companies that put you on hold or force you to talk to a machine
  • contacting service and repair people to do something at my house
  • waiting for the service and repair people who say they'll arrive sometime between 8:00 am and midnight, and they actually arrive at 12:01 after you've waited all day for them
  • figuring out problems with my computer
  • dealing with taxes and financial planning

So now my friend Jodi comes over on Wednesdays and deals with all of those things for me. And I pay her. It is one of the best financial decisions I've ever made.

It is one of the ridiculously simple ways to reduce stress. Now I can focus more of my time and attention on things that are important to me.

It truly feels like a weight has been lifted off of me.

When I first considered hiring Jodi, I was reticent to spend the money on things I could do myself. It felt indulgent and unnecessary. But I've discovered how truly necessary having this support is to me.

It is necessary to having the kind of life I wish to have.

It is necessary for my peace of mind.

It is necessary for my self-care.

It is necessary in releasing the notion that I must do it all.

It is necessary in reinforcing my values around money and what's important to spend it on.

Jodi is good at what she does, and she enjoys it. Work that is drudgery for me is a piece of cake for her. And she gets great satisfaction in providing such a useful service for me. It is a win-win situation.

So what about your dreaded tasks?

Are you one who feels you must do it all? Do you feel guilty or uncomfortable asking for help?

Or maybe the notion of spending money for something you could do yourself feels indulgent, like it did for me.

So take a moment and try this little exercise. Grab a pen and paper.

  • Write down all of the tasks, projects, or obligations that you just can't stand — or that you simply tolerate.
  • Pick one or two that are causing you the most anxiety or stress. If they simply disappeared off your plate and were magically handled, how would that feel for you? Close your eyes for a minute and really imagine your state of mind if you no longer had to deal with those tasks.
  • Now think about what you would do with that time. But you can't fill it with another dreaded task. What would you do with the time that you enjoy doing? How would it feel to spend your time doing something you enjoy, knowing that the dreaded task is handled?
  • What if 80-90% of your time was spent on things you enjoy doing rather than things you are obligated to do? How would that reduce stress and your general attitude about life?

I realize not everyone can afford to hire assistance for all of the tasks they don't like to do. Or at least, you may think you can't afford it right now. But I'd like to challenge that notion and invite you to look at your life choices and spending habits a bit differently.

Living your best life requires that YOU design your life the way you want it to be. This doesn't mean you can have or do everything. But it does mean that most of your time is spent engaged in activities that bring you joy, contentment, meaning, and passion.

You must choose those activities carefully and be willing to let go of other things that steal your precious time. Sometimes you even have to choose between two or more things you enjoy so that you reap the full benefit of one particular experience.

In essence, this means paring your life down to the most important elements and then releasing or delegating the rest.

  • If you can hire a helper to handle some of your dreaded tasks, then do it! It will allow you to do more of what you love and reduce your stress and anxiety.
  • If you can't afford it, consider asking for more help from your family members or exchange services with a friend. Or cut back on discretionary spending to save money to hire help.
  • Simplify your life to the extent that some of these tasks become obsolete. Why spend time dealing with things that don't serve you or your enjoyment of life if you don't have to?

Most importantly, remember that asking for help doesn't imply you are weak, incapable, spoiled, or lazy. It suggests you are making a conscious choice about how you want to spend your precious time on this planet. And it means you respect your mental and emotional health enough that you refuse to allow yourself to become overwhelmed.

How have you asked for help in the past to reduce your stress and overwhelm? Please share your tips in the comments.

32 thoughts on “A Ridiculously Simple Way To Reduce Stress And Enjoy More Of Life”

  1. Really great perspective here. I have used an assistant for many years, but I am tempted to experiment with some of the web-based services that provide either “virtual assistants” or help on a task by task basis. With such inexpensive help available, it makes all the sense in the world to buy that kind of liberation from the drudgery.

    • You are so right Rick. Virtual assistants can be life-changing! It’s worth a try. I think spending money to buy freedom to do what you want with your time is a great way to spend it!

  2. I love the idea of “outsourcing”, except with someone who you know. I use virtual assistants right now (odesk, guru) and I have automated almost everything possible in my life. Still, this is extremely thought-provoking. Thanks.

    • Hi Tony,
      Good for you! Please share with us what you use virtual assistants for. I think our community here would love to see how this has worked for you.

  3. Way to go Barrie! I have never thought about hiring an assistant but I do dread those same tasks. I don’t like to waste time unless I’m choosing to do nothing.

    I know a lot of moms feel like they do it all and don’t want to ask for help. They have to let go of it being done differently than they would do it. But since I’ve started not doing it all, and letting hubby/kids do more, I am much lighter and less resentful. I don’t think of it as nagging, I think of it as teamwork. I’ll do part of the work but not all of the work.

    • Marci I wish I had gotten more help when my children were small. Being a mom can really be a 24/7 job. And then pile on the housework, bills, errands, etc. There’s little time for yourself, your marriage, your friends, your imagination . . . on and on. I think it is a life-saving, positive choice to seek assistance. I’m so glad your family is pitching in. It should be teamwork — not all mom work! 🙂

  4. Dear Barrie,
    You have really touched the Core Value of our living…Asking help and support is the best form of making our lives meaningful..i fully agree with you..infact i believe in interdependence.
    just managing on our own does not serve any purpose, we loose our temper, get worked up
    I enjoy having my friends around to share in my responsibilities and make them feel how important they are to me, i feel so relaxed and strengthened. Thanks Barrie for having confirmed it with words of wisdom. i enjoy and relish your reflection..it gives me comfort.
    with Best wishes

    • Hi Sophia,
      So nice to see you here! How wonderful that you have a network of friends who share responsibilities with you. That is wonderful. Everything is easier and lighter when you have someone helping/supporting you. Humans are social beings, and we need others to weave in and out of the various parts of our lives. The people who support and help me are some of the most valuable people in my life.

  5. What a great post, Barrie! It’s funny because my business mentor is a woman who seems to have it all. She runs a very successful business, volunteers, has a great social life, and manages her kid’s super-hectic schedules. I’ve always known that she had a lot of help behind the scenes, but I never really considered that as an option for me. Until now, that is.

    Thanks for the inspiration, I will definitely consider bringing in an assistant so that I can focus on other tasks around my home and office.

    • Hi Courtney,
      I don’t think any successful person can do it all on their own — and stay sane! Part of growth as a business person (and an individual) is getting clear on your priorities in life and knowing when it’s time to pass the baton on certain things. Even a high school or college student could handle errands, clean-up, childcare, bill pay, etc. And it wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Let us know how it works for you.

  6. Barrie, I so understand what you mean about the drudgery items cropping up. My biggest stressor is my Day Job. I’m a Project Mgr for largest PC corp and largest Bank in the world and deadlines and revenue issues are a constant in my life. I work from home 100% of the time and people think that’s great-that I can do all kinds of stuff.

    All it really means is I’m surrounded by all the things I can’t do when I’m working 50-60 hours per week, including getting my own Coaching off the ground. A sudden move to a new State last April, due Husband’s job transfer leaves me working in a City that’s beautiful but that I don’t get to see or meet new people because of the work schedule.

    In Late Dec, while everyone was on vacation and I had a triple workload with only Christmas day itself off, I nearly had a melt-down & decided enough is enough. I decided to buy a Living Social deal offering 2 hours of HouseKeeping. It felt so “elitist” in some way. We don’t have children at home. Our rental is just 1400 sq ft and my husband does pretty good cleaning up after himself too, so I felt kinda like a schmuck to hire help but cleaning and chores still required my time and energy and I grew to resent work and anything that took my precious time outside of work.

    It was best decision ever!! I now have a person who comes 1 time per week and in those 2 hours, I go biking, I catch up on my pleasure reading, I go to museum or park with my husband, etc. It also lead me to realize that I only get paid for 40 hrs so 40 hour is what my job will get from me for most of the time. The 10+ hours extra they used to get is now used cooking up new recipes, going to gym and working on my website for launch later this Summer. The stress reduction sparked by that little gesture of saying “I need help” is AMAZING. I am going to ask for more help now. LOL
    Great post!

    • What a great story Toni!! Thank you so much for sharing it. Sometimes it takes having a meltdown to realize how overwhelmed we are. Life isn’t meant to be lived that way. Balance is so important. I am so glad you sought help and decided to reclaim some of your time. That is fantastic. And congratulations on the launch of your new site. Please share it with us when you launch.

  7. This sounds like a great solution, but I know for myself I think it would take a while to trust someone with anything that involved my personal accounts. Also, mostly what I get behind on is reading and writing, which I feel like I have to do for myself.

    By the way, I would love to share this post but do not see the social share icons on your template?

    • Hi Carrie,
      Yes, you do have to trust someone who is involved in your finances. But even having someone sort through mail, respond to certain things, get bills lined up to pay, handle other tasks, etc. is so beneficial. The social share bar is just below the banner for my upcoming course at the bottom of the post.

    • Hi Ross,
      Stress is so bad for your health and overall well-being. I hope you do find a way to lighten your load — and get some time for yourself to exercise, have fun, and get rest.

  8. Nice article and very uplifting, but I don’t feel like saving lots of time by just asking for help, even if the help is provided by professionals and friends, even if I pay for their service and I know I will be happy with what I receive. Take my website as an example: I know it’s not very modern, I have been using the ‘free template’ from the previous hosting provider, I paid them for SEO plug-in and was promised lots of results of which there was hardly any noticealble in the real world. I have asked my friend who runs IT solutions company in Aberdeebshire and withing a few weeks my ranks got higher, I got much more traffic etc. The problem is I need a new website and he needs some materials, than we have to go through it together as I am expected to check the progress and if I got any ideas I would tell him and we would discuss it and then he would implement it into the website….It’s all great – BUT the time I’m involved in the process is not the whole process…and after all I don’t feel more inteligent by asking others to help 🙂

    • Hi there,
      It is important to find the right kind of help and know that the service provide is truly going to provide the results you want. In business, that sometimes requires trial and error. I think it’s important to get referrals from people in your same business who are successful so you have a level of trust that you are getting what you pay for.

    • Hi Veronica,
      Yes, for many of us it is all about control. We don’t think others will handle things the way we would handle them. But most of the time, these things never get handled at all! Or we are so stressed after dealing with everything that we can’t enjoy the feeling of self-sufficiency.

  9. Oh gosh! Those same simple tasks give me the heebie-jeebies. This post is so on target. I also like that you offered three options so people who don’t have the money to hire someone have an option too. Thank you!


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