Do you dream of having more ease and peace in your life? Would you like to enjoy your full life, without feeling like you’re constantly under pressure?

Life can be a balancing act. When one area of life feels out of control, it affects our overall quality of living. When life feels complicated at every turn, it’s challenging to find our way back to being balanced and grounded. One thing is certain, feeling overwhelmed is a definite sign it’s time to simplify life.

A “less is more mindset” goes a long way towards living a more joyful, balanced lifestyle.

Here are the 3 reminders I regularly use to stop overcomplicating my life. These practices help me enjoy the day before me, instead of dreading the moments in the day. Next time you feel overwhelmed, give them a try and see what shifts for you.

1.Reduce the Stress

      I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful to lead a full life. Sometimes I catch myself though. I still need reminders to stop making life more complicated than necessary.

      My husband and I each run our own business. We’re also raising two sports-crazed sons who both play hockey and baseball. Our eldest son plays competitive hockey – it’s a true Canadian thing. We spend a lot of time traveling to different arenas during hockey season. Hockey is a lifestyle we embrace.

      On one of our out of town hockey tournaments, my son and I traveled with another player and his dad Barry. Barry has a pleasant demeanor that makes him easy to be around. From the moment we hopped in his truck loaded with all our gear, Barry set the tone and intention for the whole weekend. He let us know our initiative for the weekend was to “reduce the stress.” That’s exactly what we did.

      Our group arrived at the ferry terminal with lots of time to spare. We left early for all of the games, so it didn’t matter if we got caught up in city traffic or not. Never did we feel rushed or worried that we were running behind. We laughed a lot and turned Barry’s “reduce the stress” initiative into a fun game. We set out to make choices that made our weekend less stressful and more enjoyable – it worked!

      I share this story as a simple example of how we can implement a “reduce the stress mindset in our everyday life and choices. Nobody is making us feel stressed or calm. We feel how we feel through our moment to moment choices.

      Here are some easy ideas to adopt a “reduce the stress” mindset:

      a) Change how we view multi-tasking. Multi-tasking doesn’t simplify our lives, it makes the moments we are in feel busier than necessary.

      b) Focus on doing one thing at a time from start to finish. This approach is much kinder on our nervous system and mindset. When we focus, we tend to the important stuff first. With completion comes clarity. Clarity helps us see what we can let go of.

      c) Stop trying to do too many things in a short amount of time. Instead, allow yourself to have more space and time. Simplify your blocks of time by doing less with more focus. This tactic will help reduce the frantic feeling of being rushed and always behind.

      d) Make conscious choices that will create space – not add more stress. Give yourself a grace period when responding to other people’s requests for your time. Get into the habit of letting others know you will get back to them. Then consider your big picture and respond accordingly. Other people aren’t to blame if we are over-scheduled. Sometimes, we simply need to practice getting more comfortable saying no. Getting used to saying no is a much better alternative than being overwhelmed from saying yes too often.

            2. Be Protective

      It’s up to each of us to protect our state of being. We can’t control what happens in our external world. But we can choose to be protective and mindful of how we choose to respond to life. See what changes when you adopt a stricter policy around what you allow into your experience of life.

      Each of us shapes our experience of life by how we choose to consume and filter the noise from our external environment. How we choose to engage with others on a moment to moment basis also shapes our experience. That includes the conversations we decide to take part in. It involves the people we allow in our lives – and how we decide to perceive them.

      Here’s the thing, we don’t have to make room in our lives for challenging people or experiences that don’t feel good.

      We help our lives become simpler when we:

      a) Use and trust our feelings as a guide to simplify and shift gears.

      b) Change the way we perceive challenging people and circumstances. We can adopt a lighter perspective by thinking about the 3 qualities we admire in the person we feel at odds with. We can feel gratitude for the 3 blessings we’ve received from a difficult circumstance. Our perspective is powerful. We are in charge of how we disperse the power.

      c) Create and stick to healthy boundaries. Don’t keep people in your life who are repeat offenders. If you consistently don’t feel good around someone who doesn’t respect your boundaries – give yourself permission to choose differently. Excuse yourself or stop engaging. Again this comes down to trusting your feelings to guide you. We set the standard for how others will treat us. We can empower ourselves and teach others around us by setting clear, healthy boundaries and standards.

            3. Take Initiative

      If life feels overwhelming and complicated, take initiative to slow down. Chaos can be addicting – so can the rush of flying by the seat of our pants. It’s important to remember that burnout is a real thing, but it’s also preventable. There is a healthier way of getting our need for adventure met.

      When we are caught in a cycle of overwhelm, we are usually ignoring our inner truth. When we are off-balance, our inner wisdom and voice is screaming at us for a change. Our inner guide has a way of sending out distress signals. These signals come through in how we feel emotionally and physically.

      When we are emotionally and physically exhausted, we shouldn’t keep on keeping on. Trust your feelings as your best signal and resource to know when it’s time to slow down, re-group and make a change.

      Life is what we make of it. We can spend all our moments in chaos and overwhelm. We can also consciously choose to tune inward more often, “reduce the stress” as a lifestyle, and get comfortable protecting the quality of our adventure.

      What about you, how will you choose to travel on your amazing journey?


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      Originally published at

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      • Emily Madill is an author and certified professional coach, ACC with a BA in business and psychology. Emily is one of Thrive Global's Editors-at-large and a coach at BetterUp. She has published 11 titles in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. You can find her writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Think Positive for Kids; Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TUT. com; Best Self Magazine; MindBodyGreen; The Muse;; TinyBuddha; Aspire Magazine and others. Emily has a private coaching practice and an online program offering courses that support others to create lasting habits around self-love, well-being and all things related to time and weekly planning. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her husband, two sons and their sweet rescue dog Annie. Learn more at: