Announcement: Wish you could change the past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!

4 Simple But Powerful Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety



“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ~Charles Swindoll

I found Tiny Buddha because I have never dealt with stress and anxiety all that well, and once I became a full-time working mum of two, this had become a real issue affecting my quality of life.

It was one day earlier this year when I was battling yet another bout of the flu, and I’d just learned about something out of my control at work that would make life even harder, that I went rushing by a group of my friends, not even seeing them.

One rang later and asked if I was okay, adding that I had rushed by them with a face “grey with stress,” and had not heard them calling out to me. I realized something had to be done, and that’s how I found this site.

I have never blogged or written publicly in my life, but if any of these help someone out there, I will be so happy to have contributed to the light and peacefulness coming from this site. So here goes.

If you’re also feeling overwhelmed by stress:

1. Think “Poor thing…” when you’re aggravated with someone.

Part of the rushing-about modern-day-life thing is the constant irritation and even anger of bumping into other people as you go about your business.

Someone cuts you off in traffic. Someone beats you to the last seat on the train. Your spouse forgets to turn on the dishwasher and now there are no clean plates or cups for the kids. Argh!

Well, I came up with this to help me be more compassionate toward others, and peaceful in myself.  Every time I’m aggravated with someone, I say to myself “Poor thing…” and then fill in the blank.

So now I say, “Poor thing, my spouse must have been so stressed and addled that he forgot to turn on the dishwasher.”

“Poor thing, they must be exhausted to need that seat on train. I’ll go stand by the window; besides, it’s easier to pretend dance to my iPod when I’m standing.”

Or sometimes when I can’t think of anything, I’ll say, “Poor thing, it must be painful to be in such a rush that you end up cutting people off in traffic.”

This makes me nicer to everyone, and more importantly, happier in my own day-to-day existence.  Because being irritated, angry, or in a rush is painful, and that’s punishment in itself.

2. Decide “I don’t do blame.”

This one came out of the blue—well, that is, after reading so many of your amazing posts.

I grew up in a family where there was constant blame, and it was always something or somebody else’s fault that something negative had happened.

I then worked in places where you sent emails to the person sitting a meter away, just so you could dig them out later and forward it up higher, to show it was their fault something had happened, not yours. Awful way to live.

Out of the blue, I suddenly said to myself, “I don’t do blame.”

When something negative happens and my brain, out of habit, starts looking for who or what caused it, I step away from the blameful thoughts and tell myself, “That’s just an old habit.”

I just ignore them entirely. I then look at what that negative thing is, and I think of practical ways to deal with it. As a result, my relationship with my husband, my work colleagues, even my parents, has improved immensely.

I no longer get that awful feeling of resentment that comes when you live constantly blaming everything else around you.

3. Next, decide “I don’t do urgency.”

After reading this post about the surprising secret to being on time, I was thinking about how I rush around a lot, and how I can’t find a way to stop. Then I thought, well, sometimes you need “urgency,” and I tried to think of when. I thought, in life-and-death situations, like in a hospital Emergency Room, surely you need “urgency” then.

But then I thought about shows like ER or the times I’ve been in hospital, and I remembered how the doctors and nurses always seem decisive, super-efficient, cool, collected, but never urgent.

“Urgency” to me connotes awful feelings of desperation, being rushed, helplessness. When I get something done, even in a situation where time is of the essence, it is done because I am decisive, calm, and efficient—not because I’m “urgent.”

So I reasoned that if ER doctors and nurses can handle life-and-death situations without “urgency,” then “urgency” is never required. I never, ever have to be “urgent”!

I haven’t slowed down to the extent that I walk around in a constant feeling of being on a beach holiday, but I don’t have that stressed-out, hurried feeling anymore. When I need to, I act like an ER doctor or nurse with super-efficient and calm action. (And when I don’t, I try very hard to act like I’m on a beach holiday!)

4. Change “I have to” to ” I will.”

Like a lot of full-time working parents, I’ve lived with a lot of “have-to’s” permeating my life. From the little things (I have to do another load of laundry) to the big things (I have to find a new job) to the guilty things (I have to spend more time with my kids), I could feel these tugging away at me all the time.

There is always a “… but” at the end of those sentences. “I have to do another load of laundry…but I don’t feel like it/have run out of washing powder/also need to cook the kids dinner.”

The “but” causes all the stress, but I realized it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the “have to.”

Again, out of the blue I decided to swap “I have to” with “I will,” as in “I will do another load of laundry.”

“I will” sounds like I’ve decided to do it, rather than “I have to” with all its connotations of coercion, pressure, stress, and resentment. This thing is now in my control. There is no room for “…but.”

Suddenly, life is full of things I have decided that I will do, for whatever reason, rather than a thousand things out there making me feel anxious, pressured, and guilty because I’m not doing them.

These are four tiny things that have made a big difference for my everyday peace and living experience. I wouldn’t have come up with any of them if it weren’t for all the fabulous other posts I’ve read here.

I hope sharing them here might now give a little something back to someone out there, and make their daily lives a little lighter and brighter, as well.

Photo by Heldi Halldorsson

Profile photo of S C

About S C

SC is another full-time working mum of two trying to find a way to make it in this crazy world!

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Learn to let go of the past and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • It’s great to know how you’ve been tackling stress and anxiety through these small steps! Maybe, it’s because “Small differences sum up and then makes a huge difference.” And, this is the principle I believe in!

    Thanks for sharing, SC!
    Keep On Changing!
    Have Fun With Your Life!

  • Mike

    I took 4) one step further and replaced it with “I get to…” Suddenly life seems so much more bountiful and I feel much more grateful when “I get to do a load of laundry.” It makes me feel fortunate to have clothes to wash, a machine to wash them with, and the luxury of free time to do it.

    Great post! Thank you for sharing your tips 🙂

  • Anders Hasselstrøm

    Point #1 is absolutely essential to live a more peaceful life. We seldom think about what the cause is for people letting us down. The majority of the time it is not because people want to let us down but because of other circumstances. If people are running late there must be a good explanation it is probably not because he wants to get you upset. No matter what happens to you I encourage everyone to see it from their perspective. One of my favorite quotes is: “become the best in the world to see the point of view of other. I promise you it will work wonders for you”.

    Anders Hasselstrøm
    Motivational speaker

  • Laurel

    Every point you made was so totally true, but whew…those are tough ones. You must be in a more advanced stage of compassion than I am. This was a needed kick in the pants, that protecting my stubborn pride is not the most important thing ever like I’ve been acting. I know it’s doing me much more harm than good. Thank you for this thoughtful article.

  • Nicki

    Very good tips, because”changing the way you react to things, changes how you feel about them. “

  • RandyH

    Great quote, Anders! Any idea who said it?

  • RandyH

    What a great article, SC…thanks for sharing! Peace…

  • Aly

    Such a wonderful article! I get to apply these to my life today!!!

  • danacain

    Really great article and I loved the Chuck Swindoll quote. I will never forget the first time I heard Swindoll make that statement. I was 18 and I used to listen to his radio program with devotion. I loved loved loved his teachings. And when he said it, it made a deep and lasting impact and I never forgot. Over the years when life handed me situations which seemed bigger than my abilities, I would recall Chuck’s words and decide to choose my reaction to whatever I was going through so I could impact the outcome for my best. It really did help me through the years, and it still is. I may not be able to control the universe, but I can control myself, and that’s good enough. It has to be. I’m not being set up to fail.

  • smurfxx

    Great tips….I am going to remember this, thanks.

  • Michele

    “These are four tiny things that have made a big difference for my everyday peace and living experience.” Me too! Well done 🙂

  • Andrei

    Point 2, “I don’t do blame” is something I will definetely implement in my life! Very useful article, thank you!

  • Amber

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom! I am going to try these 🙂

  • Jon

    Good article. It’s useful to remember that nobody can control your emotions. It is literally impossible for someone to make you angry, only you can make you angry. It’s a myth that another person can cause you stress. The stress comes from how YOU choose to deal with something. True compassion comes from knowing that there is nothing you can do to control anybody and to just let it go. Instead of blaming we should ask “why am I letting this person control me?”

  • Kristen Frady

    I love the alteration you made to her “I will.” I hope to implement this and see if it does in fact make me feel fortunate (and maybe even happy or excited?) to do mundane or unwanted tasks. Thanks for the addition, Mike!

  • lv2terp

    Great list/tips!!! Thank you for sharing your insight, I really like the shift in perspective, and self talk! 🙂

  • lv2terp

    That is fantastic, I really like that! More gratitude, great tip, thank you! 🙂

  • Gita

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and transformation!

  • Love this! Sometimes all it takes is a small change to the way you think about things to make a huge difference! Thanks for such a lovely post!

  • Tara Crowley

    I tried the “poor thing” just tonight when I got a real snarky email from my ex-wife. My initial response was the opposite of “poor thing” and it created a lot of anxiety! Your suggestion helped immediately! TY.

  • MisTBlu

    Right after I read this post I walked into my messy kitchen and was about to say “I have to clean up this mess” when I stopped and instead said, “I will clean up this mess.” It made a lot of difference. Instead of the usual sink into negativity, the “I will” brought me to neutral. Though I understand the value of “I get to,” the “I will” was much more resonate. I can see that the next step after neutral would be delight that “I get to.” Perhaps even beyond “I get to” is “I want to” and mean it. But we are all about tiny steps here so I’ll stick with “I will” for now. Thanks!

  • Lisa

    One of the best pieces I’ve read on this site – such small, simple things but all very concrete and so much easier to implement than vague notions of being kinder to oneself and others. I am going to work on all of them but especially the ‘urgency’ one… as an early years teacher, I am constantly juggling and multi-tasking and it always feels too ‘urgent’. I’m going to keep your ER reference in mind from now on… Thankyou!

  • Anders Hasselstrøm

    Dear Randy,

    Unfortunately no. Powerful and true message though :o)

  • SC

    Loved all your comments, thanks for taking the time to comment! Absolutely love Mike’s amping up of number 4, will definitely try the “I get to …” for myself. Delighted that these little tips are already making a difference for some of you. Amazing how sometimes a tiny, little shift can make such a big, big difference. xx

  • Elsa

    thanks for the article, im not a mom but still it was very helpful =)

  • Karen

    Thank you for these wonderful tips. Number 1 reminded me of a quote by Plate, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I try to remember that when I encounter difficult people. I remember how stressed I was when I was taking care of my father who was dying of cancer. I rushed through my errands to get back to him and many times a soft smile or kind word from a stranger was just what my spirit needed. I try to return the favor now.

    I once read an article about dealing with everyday mishaps that affect your day.They used the exampled of getting ready for work and you spill your morning coffee. Instead of becoming upset, remember to be grateful for all of the mornings that didn’t happen to you. That piece of advice has served me well many times.

    I love Mike’s mantra, i.e. “I get too…” I will be adding that one to my thankful file. Wishing everyone a stress free day!

  • Kate

    Another brilliant post. What a fantastic Tiny Buddha this week. Thank you so much. Kate

  • FeiXue

    great post. thank you!

  • Manuel Hernandez

    Short ,sweet ,profound and fabulose.Thank you for sharing.

  • Crystal

    This is a great article! I’ll be sure to implement these phrases into my life. Thanks! 🙂

  • Yas

    Amazing post and great timing for me. Last night I had to suffer some racist insults from a driver without doing anything wrong at all while I was passing the street and it really hurt me deeply. But after reading this post, your “poor thing” point helped me to get over it. Now I think ” poor thing, it must it horrible being her full, of hatred and anger.” Thank you so much

  • Nelson

    Many thanks for the great sharing !!!!

  • Love this website, can’t wait to have the chance to become a guest blogger 😉

  • Chris Cosgrove

    Besides “I will” instead of but I have to there is my personal favourite……”Fuck it”, meaning it can wait until you are ready or it feels right. 🙂

  • Ervin Mitchell

    This article was amazing. It instantly helped. I have been going through stressful situation after stressful situation and I have been dealing with things better but sometimes it still gets a bit intense haha. This article just helped me reground myself in the confidence that everything will be fine. Thank you!!!