Stress is a natural physical and emotional response to events that make you feel overwhelmed or out of control. Clinically, it’s defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. But we know it as that feeling of being overloaded, tense and worried. We all experience stress at some point in our lives. The key is to manage it in a way that doesn’t make us feel even more stressed. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help reduce stress. Some are simple lifestyle changes like getting organized. In contrast, others are more involved like shopping for new mattresses to ensure a good night’s sleep. But all of them can make a big difference in how you feel.
1) Get Organized
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to get organized. This means taking control of your environment and schedule so that you’re not constantly overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. Start by decluttering your home and office space. Get rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose or that you don’t use regularly. This will help you to feel less cluttered and more in control. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, you can follow proven approaches like the KonMari Method, which emphasizes decluttering by category rather than location.
Once you’ve decluttered your space, take a look at your schedule. Are there any areas where you can cut back or simplify? For example, if you’re constantly running from one activity to the next, see if there are any that you can eliminate or combine. If you have a lot of meetings, see if there are any that can be shortened or done via conference call instead of in person. Reducing your number of commitments will help free up some time and reduce stress. A capsule wardrobe or a meal delivery service are other areas to consider getting into for a more organized and streamlined life. Finding ways to reduce the amount of decision-making you have to do daily can help reduce stress and simplify your life.
2) Make Time for Yourself
One of the most important things you can do for your mental health is to make time for yourself. This means taking some time each day, or each week, to do something you enjoy without any obligations or expectations.
And, no, folding the laundry while watching the latest episode of your new show on Netflix doesn’t count. We’re talking about something that’s just for you and that you do only for the sake of enjoying it. This can be anything that brings you joy. And if you’re unsure, you can try one of these activities or hobbies:
- Deep Breathing and Mindfulness Exercises – Taking time to focus on your breath and be present in the moment can help center yourself and reduce stress.
- Yoga, Stretching and Low Impact Exercise – Whether you consider yourself an athlete or haven’t worked out in years, everyone will benefit from these light exercises that focus on core strength, flexibility and balance.
- Massages and Spa Treatments – The perfect way to pamper yourself, these can help to reduce both physical and mental tension. By taking a day off and focusing on your needs and enjoyment, this type of self-care isn’t an indulgence. Instead, it’s a necessity for the stressed and weary. And if you can’t find the perfect facility for you, invest in yourself with some spa bathroom accessories and bring the luxury to the comfort of your home.
- Stream of Consciousness Journaling – Not your average dear diary kind of writing, this method encourages you to get all of your thoughts and feelings out on paper without worrying about grammar, spelling or sentence structure. It’s effective because it allows you to brain dump everything on your mind so you can process it and let it go.
- Pottery, Painting and Other Creative Endeavors – Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, art therapy and creative pursuits have proven benefits for mental health. Remember, you’re not creating the next Mona Lisa. You’re doing it for the enjoyment and the process.
3) Focus on Sleep Hygiene
If you’ve never heard the term sleep hygiene before, it’s time to become acquainted. It refers to the habits and behaviors that promote good sleep. And while it might seem like a no-brainer, getting enough quality sleep is essential for reducing stress and promoting overall health.
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will help to regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine – An hour before you plan on going to sleep, dim the lights and avoid any stimulating activities such as watching television or working on your laptop. Try reading, journaling or taking a bath instead.
- Create an optimal sleeping environment – Ensure you are equipped with the best bedroom essentials. Try to ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool. Consider using blackout curtains, upgrading your sheets and using pillows that support your neck and back.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake – These can interfere with sleep, so it’s best to avoid them in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Avoid working in bed – If you can, try to create a designated work space to separate your sleep environment from your workspace. This will help your mind to relax when it’s time to go to bed.
Final Stress-Free Thoughts
When it comes to reducing stress in your life, it’s essential to take things one step at a time. You’ll likely feel overwhelmed if you try to do too much at once. And that’s the opposite of what we’re going for here.
So start with one or two of these tips and see how they work for you. Remember, the goal is to find what works best for you and your unique situation. And, above all else, be patient with yourself. Creating lasting change takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results overnight. Just keep at it and, eventually, you’ll find yourself on the path to a calmer, more stress-free life.