Gunk of Low-Energy Living: stress

You’re stressed.

You say it’s the big project at work or what’s going on in the world. It’s caring for an elderly parent or the increase in your property taxes.

Those are, indeed, stress-inducing. No doubt.

A sneaky kind of stress

But I want to talk about something causing stress in your life that’s often overlooked. That takes a far greater toll than you might imagine—or be willing to admit.

So what’s the cause of this sneaky kind of stress?

It’s tolerations. Specifically, the environment-related kind.

While there are 8 types of tolerations, Environment tolerations are the most common.

Take this little quiz: What do all these have in common?

  • Your drab, no-privacy cubicle at work
  • An overflowing junk drawer
  • The pile of unfiled paperwork on your desk
  • Your cell phone doesn’t hold a charge
  • That chip in your car windshield
  • Mold in the grout
  • Your printer always jams
  • The kitchen floor needs new tile
  • Dusty bric-a-brac on every shelf
  • Your cluttered garage

Know what they all have in common?

The answer: They are all Environment tolerations.

Environment tolerations are what’s going on around you—your surroundings, conditions, systems, processes, equipment, etc.

Environment tolerations do two things: create friction + drain energy.

  • You can’t park your car in the garage because it’s so full of clutter. You think, There’s just so much stuff to sort and organize and manage.
  • You see the pile of unfiled paperwork and your shoulders slump. I’m always behind. I just can’t keep up.
  • The printer jams—again. You feel irritated, annoyed.
  • You notice the windshield chip and “should” yourself. I’ve been meaning to get it repaired. I should have done that by now.

Energy giving versus energy draining.

Your environment is not neutral. It’s either giving you energy or draining your energy.

Which means even a quick scan of your environment will yield energy drains. (Go ahead: I challenge you to look around right now. Scan your surroundings and notice the energy leaks.)

Now, you might be thinking: So what if my computer keeps rebooting and my closets are a little cluttered. No big deal, right?


As the saying goes, “It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out. It’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”

Well, your environment-related tolerations are grains of sand in your shoe. Creating friction. Distracting you. Robbing you of energy.

It’s all the little stuff that together is big.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can leak energy all day long and it won’t impact your attitude and outlook, your focus and motivation. That it won’t cause stress.

In fact, studies have shown women who live in cluttered environments have higher levels of cortisol. That’s the stress hormone that can lower immune function, interfere with learning and memory, trigger sleep problems, increase the risk of heart disease, and cause weight gain.

Ugh. That doesn’t sound so harmless, does it?

When you optimize your environment, you eliminate tolerations.

I want you to look into all the places and spaces of your life. Do you feel energized? Or do you feel friction?

Look around your household, in closets and on counters, in cupboards and on shelves. Do you feel calm or overwhelmed?

Look in the backseat of your car and in your garage. Look at your desk and in drawers. Look in your purse and on your nightstand.

What needs to change for your environment to be a source of energy that allows you to be your best?