Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our routine and these issues that we forget to take a step back, re-evaluate and make changes that might benefit our lives and stress levels. And it turns out, there are some easy and effective ways we can do this—all it takes is a little effort and intention!
1. Do one thing at a time
For some reason, our culture glorifies multitasking. Eat while you work or drive, work while you’re on the phone, text while you’re eating lunch. The more things we can do at once, the more time we save, seems to be the idea. Switching to a lifestyle where you only do one thing at a time might be the most important and effective policy you can implement to make your life less stressful.
Many also find that when they focus on performing one task at a time—they do that tasks better than if they were multitasking or distracted. Pick something to work on, and then turn off the tv, put away your phone, disable all of those unnecessary social media notifications, and do only that one thing.
2. Spring cleaning!
And by cleaning, we mean get rid of stuff. Having a lot of stuff means more bills to pay, more things to dust, and greater chances your living (and mental) space will feel cluttered and chaotic. Shoot for getting rid of at least 10% of what you own, keeping in mind that most of us would do well to let go of much more.
In order to do this, take a day per room in your house. Examine every object in that room, and consider whether it supports, detracts from, or is neutral toward your happiness and peace of mind. Get rid of all the detractors, along with the neutrals that aren’t functional in some way.
3. Make one healthy change per month
A lot of us tend to take on lifestyle changes like an Olympic sprinting event. We try to change our diet, start to exercise, quit smoking, and be a better spouse and parent all at the same time. For the vast majority of people, this doesn’t work. Instead, it leads to more stress and disappointment that we can’t follow through on all (or any) of the changes.
Slow and steady is way more effective when it comes to lifestyle changes. Choose one change, for example, trying to eat healthier, and focus on only that change for one month. By the next month it will have become a habit and you won’t have to put so much focus and energy on it. Then you can move on to the next change!
4. Identify your stressors
We can’t reduce our stress levels if we don’t know what’s stressing us out in the first place—and many of us don’t. Some stressors are obvious, like illness or a busy schedule, but others are less so, like having unrealistic expectations for yourself and others. Take some time to step back and examine your life and routine, how you feel throughout the day, how you’ve felt throughout the past few years, and how you feel about the people in your life.
Search for the commonalities in things that make you feel happy and relaxed, and the things that make you feel stressed. Meditate on these things. Once you know your triggers, it will be easier to address them, and you might find the main cause of your stress is your own expectations of yourself and others.
5. Re-evaluate your schedule
Just like having too much stuff, scheduling too many activities can really get you down. Look at your weekly calendar, and just like you did with your stuff, decide what is beneficial to your happiness and what is not. Cut the things that aren’t. It’s important to include your spouse or family in this project, so you can reach a group consensus about what’s necessary and what’s not.
Exercise relieves built-up stress, helps prevent future stress (because being unhealthy and out of shape is stressful), gives you some much needed time to yourself, and does a whole bunch of other beneficial things for the body and mind. If you want, try making a regular and sustainable exercise plan your first ‘healthy change of the month.’
7. Help others
Yes, volunteering or helping others might sound like another thing to add to your already busy and stressful life, but studies have shown that helping others can reduce stress and boost happiness. You can help others in a more official mode with volunteer work, or you can just try to be more present and happy when you’re doing favors for family and friends.
These changes are all totally doable and totally worth it! But they will take some time. As we said before, focus on one task at a time, and take it day by day. It may take a year or more to do them all, but the key is to not get discouraged and to continue, slowly and steadily.
-The Alternative Daily