Stress is something most of us live with everyday. Jobs can be stressful, the drive to work can be stressful, meal planning can be stressful, even relationships with loved ones can be stressful. So what are our choices when we are feeling stressed all the time?
Here are five very simple things to do that I have found to be very helpful in reducing the level of stress I experience in my own life.
1. Make a list.
When I am the most stressed, it’s usually because I am doing too many things at once. By making a list I can see exactly what needs to be done, and organize my duties into manageable chunks.
2. Get rid of things you are tolerating.
Look around your life and make a list (yes, another list) of things you are tolerating. When I did this I honestly thought I’d come up with five or six things – but I came up with over forty! And that was just in one afternoon. It’s amazing how fast those things drain of us our energy. What are you tolerating? It doesn’t have to be a big thing, like a stressful job, it may something as minor as a cluttered home or peeling paint. Make your list and get to work on changing those things that you simply tolerate!
3. Get some kind of exercise.
Don’t think I don’t hear you moaning right now! But I cannot STRESS how important exercise is for reducing our stress levels (not to mention the wonderful fitness benefits). So, you don’t like exercising? Try walking. Too hot or cold outside to walk? Get an indoor trampoline and jump gently on it for 15 minutes. I know you’ve seen the commercials on television for diet aids that help people loose extra weight put on due to stress. It’s certainly been proven that too much stress can pack on the pounds. If you think that you don’t have 15 or 20 minutes a day to do a bit of exercise, then ask yourself if you have room in those jeans for 15-20 extra pounds.
4. Arrange for a night out with friends at least once a week.
This is one of my favorite ways to de-stress! When I get together with my girlfriends and share a delicious meal and great conversation the time just flies by. I go to bed that night relaxed and happy. Getting together with friends (even if we are venting) helps to put us in the moment. Being in the moment helps us to forget about all the things we need to get done. Even if all you can manage is going out for coffee, do try to go out with friends at least once a week.
5. Pay attention to what you are eating.
Okay, I can hear you groaning again, but pay attention – this is actually a really good one. We all know that the foods we eat affect us physically. Too much caffeine or sugar can greatly affect our mood and even make us absolutely intolerable to be around! But just as there are foods that make us grumpy and short tempered, there are foods that comfort and inspire (when used in moderation). If you think of a warm piece of cinnamon coffee cake how does that make you feel? How about a cup of hot chocolate with a tiny bit of cinnamon sprinkles added for flavor? Certain foods just inspire us! For me it’s a peppermint mocha latte. The key is to know how much of something we can have (especially if it’s loaded with sugar or caffeine). It’s amazing how far a tiny piece of dark chocolate can take us!
These are all very easy steps to implement into your busy life. There is nothing stopping you from getting on the phone with a friend right now and arranging a coffee date, or looking online for a modestly priced exercise trampoline. Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived to its fullest. If you are stressed and unhappy that is time stolen from you and your loved ones. Minutes add up to hours, and hours add up to days. Don’t let those precious minutes slip away.