The Facts About Stress
We’ve all felt stress at some point in our lives. Whether it be the stress of planning a wedding or the pressure that we feel to meet our professional goals. And while some stress is actually quite healthy for the mind and body, long term stress can have severe psychological and physical effects. In fact, there are few known diseases in which stress does not play an aggravating role. People affected by severe stress are known to suffer from a variety of symptoms including frequent headaches, insomnia, nausea, breathing difficulties, excess anxiety, and fatigue, just to name a few. If you are feeling the effects of stress, you are not alone and I am here to help. Below are my 10 best ways to stress less so that you can enjoy life more, from an expert (A.K.A a married mom of 3 🙂 )!
Ever heard of the expression “Keep it simple, stupid”? Well this would be where that applies! If you ever feel like life is too hard, well maybe that’s because it is. There’s no need to complicate things even more. While there will be many things in life that you can’t control, it is possible to make a few changes which will help to reduce your burden. Take a look at a few of your biggest stressors and try to determine if there are ways that you can make improvements to what you are currently doing. Can you make adjustments to your schedule? For example, is it possible to share carpooling duties a few days a week so that you can use the extra time to run errands or make progress on a work deadline?
It’s hard not to be stressed if you are spending half of your day searching for things. Case in point, as I am writing this I am also looking for a receipt that I just had about 5 minutes ago! Oops 🙂 Organization will not happen overnight but if you devote some time to it regularly, you will be organized and de-cluttered in no time. Take a few minutes each day to plan ahead for the next. Lay out clothes, plan meals, and review schedules and appointment times. Create short to-do lists for each day outlining the top 3-5 tasks you hope to accomplish. Not only will you be amazed at how much you can achieve, but you will save yourself so much stress and aggravation. For more organization tips, check out our popular post My Step by Step Guide for Home Organization. Or check out our Home Ideas & DIY board on Pinterest for even more inspiration.
3) Learn to Say No
For people pleasers like me, this is an especially hard one. It can be difficult to feel like we are disappointing people that we care about but it is important to know your boundaries. Just remember, saying no doesn’t mean that you do not care. It simply means that you don’t have the available resources to commit to anything else and that’s ok. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. After all you need to sleep sometime right?!
4) Change Your Perspective
Sometimes when you’re feeling overwhelmed the best thing you can do is to get a change of scenery. Give yourself a time out in a peaceful place so that you can gather your thoughts and recharge your batteries a bit. If possible, get out and reconnect with nature. Places such as a nearby park or local beach can be extremely soothing when you are feeling frazzled. If going out is not an option, try a relaxing at-home activity such as listening to soft music or taking a warm bath.
Learning how to meditate is one of my top goals for 2015 and it should be yours too if you are feeling the effects of stress. Meditation is known to have many mental and physical benefits. It is proven to improve immune system function, decrease anxiety, improve focus and mental clarity, decrease insomnia, and so much more. Meditation can be done almost anywhere at any time of day and doesn’t require a huge time commitment, although it’s most effective when done on a regular basis. Thanks to technology, learning how to meditate is easier than ever before. There are tons of great apps to can be used to track your progress. Cool features such as timers, customized themes and sounds, and a meditation log are just a few of the benefits of using an app. Check out these two awesome free apps! Now, off to find some peace and quiet!!
For Android Users: Calm (I use this one on my Samsung Galaxy and LOVE it!)
For Apple Users: Insight Timer (I have friends who use this one on their iPhone and LOVE it!)
I know, I know!! But hear me out on this one. Aside from the fact that regular exercise improves your physical health, exercise is a proven way to significantly lighten your mood. When you are exercising, your body releases mood enhancing chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins not only help to improve mood but are also known as a natural pain killer. Which is why exercise is also recommended for women suffering from PMS symptoms such as menstrual cramping and mood swings. Yes, I know it can be hard to find time (and energy) throughout the day to exercise but the good news is that even short bursts of activity work well. Get outside and take short walks with the family or walk around the office after lunch. Do sets of crunches while you are watching your DVR’d episode of Sons of Anarchy. Almost any situation can be turned into an opportunity to sneak a few minutes of exercise.
I remember when I was a child and how much I used to dread nap time. Nowadays a two hour nap is my holy grail 🙂 All jokes aside, a consistent sleep schedule is key to managing stress. While I do agree with the general consensus that 8 hours a night is best, I also understand that not everyone is the same. For me, personally, an optimal night’s sleep is between 6-7 hours. Be realistic about what YOUR body needs. If you need 10 hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed, make an effort to get in bed each evening at your target time. Sleep “resets” the brain and enables it to keep running at peak efficiency.
8) The Power of Positivity
Positive thinking can go a long way! Keeping the focus on positive thoughts is a fantastic way to calm your anxieties. If you continue to think negatively eventually you will feel that way as well. Regardless of whether you are a positive person by nature, you can still practice positive thinking. Each day write down three things for which you are grateful. Or carry a few inspirational quotes with you and read them when you are feeling down. If a situation seems to be too much for you try putting the situation into perspective by using the “5 year rule”. Simply ask yourself if this is something that will still affect you in 5 years? Most of the time you will find that we give more energy to situations than we should. The more you practice this strategy the easier it will become to determine what it is important and what is not. These tactics have gotten me through many difficult situations in life.
9) Choose Happiness
“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness” – Charles Spurgeon
Achieving happiness in your life may require some work but it’s well worth the effort. Choose to be happy. Sure it’s easier said than done but it is a choice. If you are in a situation that makes you unhappy, change it! You alone are responsible for your happiness. When all else fails, make an effort to laugh as often as possible! Laughing releases endorphins that improve mood and immune health.
For additional inspiration and to read more about my choice to be happy and follow my passions, check out How I Beat The Rat Race…And Came Out On Top
10) Find A Hobby
In order to be truly happy, it it crucial that you are doing something you love. If you are doing what you love, you will never have to “work” a day in your life. While following your passions may not be practical for some, it is extremely therapeutic to focus on activities that make you happy. So maybe you can’t quit your day job in corporate America to pursue your dream of being an artist but you can steal away an hour or two each Saturday to paint. Pursue a hobby that makes you feel good and helps to ease your anxiety.
* Please note that the opinions in this post are not meant to replace sound medical advice. While the methods mentioned in this post will help to alleviate stress and anxiety symptoms in the majority of people they should not be used in place of appropriate treatments for those who are severely depressed or anxious. If you, or someone you know, are feeling extreme effects of stress, anxiety, or depression please seek the help of a medical professional immediately. We love you and want you to get the assistance you deserve!