Stress is far from fun!
Not only does it make us feel like crap, but it can also affect our health, relationships, productivity, life, work…everything! It’s inevitable too, especially with how fast-paced our lives are these days and all the distractions (text messages, phone notifications, etc.) Add starting a business, kids, pets, and everything else and we’re feeling quite overwhelmed!
There are ways to manage it, however. I personally have a sensitive nervous system, so I’ve had to learn ways to control my stress levels to stay functional. I want to share my tricks with you because managing your stress will help you feel happier and more in control of your life and emotions.
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10 ways to reduce stress and feel happier right now:
1) Breathe deeply.
You may have already heard of this trick, but do you do it? Any time you feel tension in your body or you feel like you’re going to blow your top, stop and breathe deeply.
Simply close your eyes (if you can), breathe in for 5 counts, hold for 5, breathe out for 5. Do several times and focus on releasing the tension from your body. It helps calm the nervous system and makes a BIG difference in how our body feels.
2) Take a walk in nature.
Nature, like breathing deeply, has a very calming effect on our nervous system. Getting away from digital devices and being one with nature is really important for our eyes and bodies. If I don’t have time for a walk, I’ll just step outside for a few minutes and soak in the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world.
3) Say your favorite affirmations.
Affirmations are simple words and phrases that have the power to shift your mindset. You can go from feeling like your life totally sucks to feeling very grateful and blessed within seconds. How great is that?
Affirmations can help us regain focus on reality instead of going down a dark depressing hole. They are especially helpful when you have no control over a situation or if you’re really worried about something.
Here’s a list of my favorite affirmations:
- Let it go
- Just breathe
- This too shall pass
- Done is better than perfect
- Everything happens for a reason
- Everything is going to be ok
- I am blessed
4) Go on a “mini-vacation”.
When things get stressful and overwhelming, my husband and I like to go on a “mini-vacation” for a few hours. We live near the beach so we like to drive to the beach and have dinner and take a walk. You don’t have to live by the beach to make this work, however.
Another way I like to take a “mini-vacation” is by watching a funny movie. Getting involved with the storyline and characters helps me focus on something other than my problems and a good laugh is great for reducing stress.
Just do something you enjoy to take you out of the situation temporarily. It could be a walk in the neighborhood or park, going to a bookstore or coffee shop, visiting a friend, etc.
Here’s a lovely mini-meditation that my friend Karen Partish created called 3 Minutes to Relax:
5) Assess your life and make changes.
Make a list of all the things that are stressing you out on a regular basis and either eliminate them or find ways to make them less stressful.
For example, I don’t like to cook and I used to find dinner time stressful. “What do I make? I’m too tired to make it. Let’s go out to eat. Wait, I don’t want to eat anything unhealthy. But what should I eat? Screw it, let’s order pizza.” Ugh.
Then I discovered meal and food prepping (cue angels singing).
At first, I spent hours meal prepping several meals on Sunday. This was fine for the first couple of Sundays, but then I started to dread it. I didn’t want to spend my Sundays cooking.
Now I food prep. I prepare several food items that can be thrown together for healthy meals and snacks. Voila! Dinner isn’t stressful anymore.
What can you change in your life to reduce stress? Make your list of stressors and come up with solutions. If you feel stuck you can ask a friend how she deals with it or Google it.
(If you want to build healthy habits and you don’t mind a lot of cursing, I highly recommend Healthy as F*ck by Oohaugh Duncan.)
6) Declutter your environment.
Clutter is a big stress inducer. Piles of mail, things you meant to put away and didn’t, laundry…feeling stressed out yet? I am!
Decluttering doesn’t have to take loads of time:
If you can pick up and declutter a little each day, that will help.
Coming up with solutions instead of doing the same ‘ol thing will help too. For example, if mail piling up is a problem, your solution could be throwing out junk mail immediately, opening the bills and putting the due date on the outside, and paying bills every Monday. Or if laundry piling up is a problem, doing one pile of laundry, start to finish, every day can help (Simply Clean is a great book to learn cleaning hacks).
Something else I like to do is tackle the things that really irk me. You see, clutter has this ability to zap us of our energy. When we see something messy over and over, we think “I need to clean that” or “that pile of papers annoys the fluff out of me” over and over. These thoughts are just tiresome.
So when life gets busy and messy, I will just go room to room and tackle the things that annoy me the most. I’ll either declutter completely or just make the clutter neater for the time being (depending on how much time I have).
7) Let go of perfectionism.
If you look up the word ‘perfectionist’ in a dictionary, you’ll see my face. I try to do everything perfectly and it’s just too stressful! I have to remind myself that “done is better than perfect” and that it’s not the end of the world if I make a mistake.
8) Journal your feelings.
All you need is a cute notebook like this one or this one and a pen. Just brain dump everything on your mind. Let it ALL go. Create solutions, give yourself pep talks, complain, whatever you need to do. Getting our thoughts on paper frees up so much space in our heads. It’s a huge stress reliever.
Here are some journaling prompt ideas:
- How am I feeling right now?
- Why am I feeling this way?
- What can I do to eliminate this stress?
- How can I cope with this stress better?
- What am I grateful for?
- What can I do to feel better right now?
9) Practice gratitude.
Focusing on what’s good in our lives can help us put things into perspective and reduce our stress. Practicing gratitude daily is best, but you can focus on what you’re grateful for during a stressful moment as well. Total game changer!
10) Prioritize and focus on one task only.
Multi-tasking is not only stressful, but it slows you down and causes you to make mistakes. I recommend making a list of what needs to be done, prioritizing your list, and focusing on completing one task at a time. If you find you have more than one task that’s urgent, you can pick the one you want to do the most or is the easiest/fastest. You can also ask people for help. :)
Stress is inevitable, but there are ways to reduce it in healthy ways. The next time you feel stressed out, try some of these tricks and find favorites that you can rely on whenever you need them.