You’re not alone. Most of us deal with stress every day – juggling multiple to do’s, packed schedule, energy resources maxed out.
Whether you’re switching careers, moving homes, coping with a loved one’s illness, or feeling overwhelmed by a hundred little things (we’ve all been there), stress is an inevitable part of modern life. It’s a mental, emotional, or physical strain caused by anxiety or overwork, and it’s difficult to fully eliminate it.
So to get serious for a moment, stress can be a big problem. Stress is powerful, and can have physical effects on the human body. Most of the stress we experience can be broken down into three categories.
- Stress we can’t control—such as the loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or encountering major health challenges.
- Natural stress—such as what we feel when we set goals, push ourselves outside our comfort zones, and strive to get better.
- Stress we can control—such as being late to an appointment, having a breakdown in a relationship, or getting upset sitting in traffic.
As entrepreneur struggling to build a company from scratch I´m very familiar with the stress demons.
I´ve noticed that stress management advice usually boils down to some form of “Just relax”. This is good advice, but we all know how difficult it is to put into practice. So for me it’s incredibly important to have an arsenal of healthy ways to relieve stress and ease my mind that I can rely on when things around me get crazy.
Learning how to avoid and reduce stress is one of the most important skills you can master, not only for your own health and happiness but also because of how your stress levels impact those close to you.
Here are ten really simple things that you can do to reduce the stress and anxiety in your daily life.
1. Manage your time
Time management is a way to find the time for more of the things you want and need to do. It helps you decide which things are urgent and which can wait. Managing your time can make your life easier, less stressful, and more meaningful.
For a better time Managment you can use a “To Do” list. Writing down everything you need to do in a prioritized sequence is a huge stress reducer. When you are doing exactly what you should be doing in the exact sequence in which things need to be completed, you will feel more at peace.
I also practice Time-blocking that helps me to make the most of my work day by assigning very specific tasks to very specific blocks of time. I schedule out my entire day in advance for my business. I do this every morning for 30 minutes. To give you an idea, each block is 60 minutes: 50 minutes of actual work time and 10 min break. The best thing about time-blocking is that it focuses on task progress, not completion, making it much more flexible and approachable as a form of time management.
2. Exercise regularly.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. It is well documented that physical activity plays a key role in reducing the effects of stress on the body. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week.
Simply moving-walking, running, biking, swimming can do wonders to reduce stress. A quick sweat session boosts your energy levels, brightens your mood, and lets you channel your stress and anxiety in a healthy way, so when you’re finished, you’re more likely to be productive and focused on the task ahead. It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do; what’s most important, studies find, is that you do something you enjoy, not something you feel you simply have to do. Otherwise, you’re just stressing yourself out again!
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep is a powerful piece of the stress reduction puzzle. Getting a good night’s sleep allows you to rest your mind and body. When you are tired and fatigued, you experience more stress than when you are fresh and full of energy. Many people experience the inability to fall asleep or waking during the night, or both. The easiest way to help regulate sleep, and thus reduce feelings of stress, is to stick to a schedule. This can be so challenging sometimes, especially when it seems amazing to sleep until noon on weekends – I speak from experience 😉
Getting to sleep around 10pm and keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle is the best when we’re trying to reset our stress response. You can simply try going to bed one hour earlier for a week to see a fast difference in your stress levels.
4. Practice positive thinking
How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. People who maintain a positive attitude and practice positive thinking experience less stress than those who are pessimistic and negative.
I found out that focusing on the present moment rather than reliving the past or worrying about the future, help me to reduce stress and improve my performance.
Take also time each day to reflect on the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This will increase your happiness and help you keep things in perspective.
5. Take time out
Block out time each day to rest, relax, and recharge your batteries. Striking a balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself is vital in reducing stress levels. Look at your daily schedule and identify one or more periods of time when you can take a break. Do something you enjoy during these blocks of time, go out and spend some time outside every day. A healthy dose of fresh air is one of the best ways to instantly lift your mood, especially if your job or daily routine keeps you stuck indoors under artificial lights for more than a third of the day. Go for a walk right after your work or take your lunch to a park -it doesn’t have to be complicated, just get outdoors when you can.
6. Get organized
How do you feel when your home, car, or workplace is a mess, or when you are working on a project and can’t find things? Take the time to get organized, Declutter the part of your home that’s bothering you the most; then do the little things each day to stay organized so you can feeler calmer and more productive in your space.
7. Try yoga
Yoga is something I rarely go a day without. Yoga has been providing a number of health benefits for thousands of years. Studies show that this gentle form of exercise that uses body postures and deep breathing can help people recover from stressful situations. Yoga not only keeps your body in shape and improves flexibility, it is also a fantastic source of exercise when we’re too stressed and tired to exercise.
I’m also a huge believer in the practice of meditation, and I think it comes in tons of different forms; you don’t necessarily need to be a monk sitting cross-legged on a mountainside. The key is not to worry about thoughts that enter our head, just let them float on through, and return to focusing on our inhales and exhales. These simple activities engage your mind, senses, or body, so you can focus on what you’re doing right now and let the stress of the outside world just slip away. In fact, even 2 minutes of meditation per day can help us sort out how to reduce stress and anger.
I meditate daily in the morning, sitting on a cushion on the floor for 5 minutes. That’s it! And guess what – I notice a massive difference in how my day goes.
9. Say „no“ more often
Start practicing saying “no” to things you have no interest in or no time for. Saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” is a major stressor for your mind and body. It causes anxiety, tension, aches and pains, often causes us to lose sleep as well. It’s unquestionably not the lone cause of stress, but it might be among the easiest to control.
Saying “no” can makes us feel selfish, guilty, embarrassed even. We don’t want to upset people. We don’t want them to think badly of us. Sometimes it’s simply easier to say “yes”, than to deal with our angst or other people’s reactions.
Learning to say “no”—in a respectful, but firm way—is a crucial skill that not only gives you the confidence to manage your time better, but also gives you more freedom to say yes to the things that really matter to you.
10. Avoid stressed people
You may not realize it, but your physiology is programmed to mirror the physiology of the people around you. In other words, you can “catch” stress from other people. If someone is a constant source of stress and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship entirely. Maybe it sounds hard, but you don’t really want these people in your life anyway, do you?
As you go about each day, be aware of your stress levels and their sources. When you identify and learn how to manage the things that create stress, you will experience improvements in every area of your life—from your relationships to your performance, from your health to your outlook on life.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Managing stress is all about taking control of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun.