Here is an excellent listing of 52 Proven Stress Reducers (from the Texas Woman’s University Counseling Center). The list is actually really interesting and worth the five minutes it will take to read it (hat tip to lifehacker (again) for bringing this to our attention).
During the days when we have so much information to read and so much work to get done, taking the time to read about stress reduction, let alone actually practicing it can be daunting. I decided to read through the list and then selected a few that either reinforced something I have already started (or perhaps have gotten away from) or perhaps something new to try.
For me, I have recently found these to be useful and helpful, and so I will make sure to continue these:
Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If your alarm clock, wallet, shoe laces, windshield wipers – whatever- are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
Unplug your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep, or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. (The possibility of there being a terrible emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil.) Or use an answering machine.
And of the list of 52, these seemed interesting and are something I’m going to try for the next few weeks.
Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass doesn’t get mowed this weekend.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. . .
Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments; allow time between appointments for a breathing spell.
In my experience, making a change, focusing on taking care of yourself and reducing stress is important, but not always easy to do. We live our lives in patterns and grow comfortable with our “routines.” The first step is often the hardest, so here are some of the ways I work to incorporate these changes in my own life:
Stop. Read. Think.
Do yourself the favor to take a few minutes today and read the list. Close the door, don’t answer the phone, and allow yourself 5-10 minutes to stop, read, think and determine what makes sense for you. I find that with a list this long, my inclination is to scan the list and then decide “I’ll come back” — and then probably won’t. Want to make a difference in how you approach your days? The key is to stop fire fighting long enough to settle your mind and focus. I actually find it addictive to slow down and think; I bet your brain (and body) will appreciate even 15 minutes of being calm, thinking and planning.
Plan to Start Small
I don’t know about you – but sometimes I get so caught up in an idea (or a HUGE list) that I want it all. Now. About the time I decide I want it all, I then realize it’s too big, dismiss the ideas and move along (or carry on with whatever routines I have established). I have been successful in the past and even more so recently by reviewing the list and looking for one or two actions that I’m already doing – but maybe not regularly. I find it’s far easier to reinforce a behavior I’m already inclined to do. Once I have those elements down, I then seek to add another. It’s a “slow growth” process; I can adapt and evolve as needed, but I am working along a loose plan of progression to get me closer to where I want to be. In this case, having less stress, more time to think and to be more productive.
Enjoy the process and take it easy
The biggest step I have learned seems to make the biggest difference: treat this as a journey and take it easy. I’ve actually lost just over 20lbs this year (yup, since January) – and I have yet to diet. Dieting is an end-state goal. I’m looking to lead a better life and set the example for my children. I took some time to evaluate the decisions I was making – and realized that what I wanted and how I was acting were completely different. I am again making smarter eating decisions (traveling and eating out will kill you, literally), spending some time back in the gym, drinking more water and relaxing. That said, some days I don’t get it right – that’s life! Because I am not treating this approach as a “diet” – I have less stress and am less concerned. As we seek to make changes that are good for the long term, we have to go slow, enjoy the journey/process and understand that no one is perfect and mistakes are okay (as long as we recognize them and correct them).
Hopefully my experiences allow you to get started today and do one thing that brings you a bit less stress. When you CHOOSE to lead a less stressful life. You’ll be more productive and feel better.