According to Time magazine, a Gallup poll showed 2017 as the worst year for people feeling worry, stress, anger sadness or pain in at least a decade. And the trend continues. The natural response can be to attempt to relieve it by taking any action, no matter how ill conceived. If you feel a need to take action to blow off some steam, here are some actions that won’t cause you more stress in the end.

Think in terms of the least you can do rather than the most you can do. Spending money can release the same endorphins as running, but it is only a temporary high. If you feel like you want a release from the grind, spend on something that may last a bit. For example, sign up for a class you have always wanted to take, especially if it is a month or two out. You get pleasure from anticipation, you get the long-term benefits of the class, and you find yourself in a small community.

Another way to take action during these anxious times is to simply give more. Sending small amounts of money to causes that matter to you may help you feel like you are doing something about your frustrations. An even less expensive antidote is to notice those who have done something for you and write them a note. In their book “Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy,” authors Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone wrote, “There are two sides to gratitude: the first is appreciation, where you’re valuing something that has happened, and the second is attribution, where you’re recognizing the role of someone or something else in bringing it about.”

It also helps to remember what is important to you in the long run and take little steps. If you are thinking you are going to move in the next couple of years, start reducing today. Not only get rid of some of the things you find yourself no longer using, but stop buying things that you are going to have to pack up and move. For example, have your hangers facing one direction and when you pull something out of the wash, face the hanger in the other direction. In the course of a few weeks, you will be aware of the clothing you are wearing and those that you aren’t.

While each little step may not seem like much, it quickly becomes much bigger. Macy and Johnstone wrote, “An action that might seem inconsequential by itself adds to and interacts with other actions in ways that contribute to a much bigger picture of change.”

Discontent may be real, but you can direct your energy in positive ways to make you feel better.

Spend your life wisely.


Ross Levin is the chief executive & founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.