7 easy ways to reduce stress
Like everyone else in the world, I struggle with the stress of trying to cram everything into a busy schedule. Between working full time, blogging, finding time to exercise, spending time with Andrew, and taking care of two animals, it feels like there's never enough time in the day to get everything done. I tend to live with a constant, nagging anxiety that I forgot to do some mysterious task that I can never quite put my finger on, no matter how many things I accomplish in a day. So in the spirit of kicking off the New Year on the right foot and sticking to my resolution of being nicer to myself, here are a few ways I'm looking to reduce stress in 2017.
1. Start saying no. After moving to Delray in late 2015, Andrew and I were on a desperate hunt for new friends. 2016 was a year of saying yes to everything in order to put myself out there and find a network of people down here in South Florida. Now that I've established some great relationships, it's finally okay to say no again. Whether it's turning down the second happy hour invitation you receive in a week or telling your manager that you don't have time to take on another side project at work, saying no is a crucial skill that will help you to reduce your level of stress – both enabling you to manage your time better, and also giving you the time and freedom to say yes to the things that really matter to you.
2. Exercise. Finding that extra hour in a day to cram in a sweat session can seem daunting or even impossible – but going to that yoga class or heading out on a quick 30 minute run will help you channel your stress in a productive way and will leave you more energized to tackle your tasks ahead.
3. Time block your schedule. I'm a list person (if I don't write it down, it probably won't get done), but the endless to-do list actually make me feel worse about myself when I'm not able to cross off everything in a day. Time-blocking consists of designating a specific amount of time for each task you need to accomplish during the day. You might give yourself 30 minutes to answer emails, 20 minutes to call and schedule appointments, and two hours to tackle a big project at work. Time-blocking focuses on task progress, not completion, making it much more flexible and forgiving as a form of time management.
4. Spend time outside. It can be difficult to spend time outdoors if you have a long commute (or you know, because it's winter), but I've found this one to be so important. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I spent a few months commuting from my house in the suburbs to an office park about an hour away. It would seem that finding time to be outside would be nearly impossible, but I started taking breaks throughout the day to just go on a 10-15 walk around the office park. These walks helped me clear my head and return to work with a renewed energy. Now, I take intermittent breaks to walk Layla, and try to make it to the beach a few times a week after work to watch the waves for a bit and decompress at the end of the day.
5. Wake up a little bit earlier. Andrew works late a lot, meaning that I also struggle with a lack of sleep (I don't really go to sleep until he gets home). While it's tempting to hit the snooze button a few extra times, waking up late makes me feel frantic and messes up my whole day. Even giving myself an extra 30 minutes in the morning means that I get to enjoy a leisurely walk with Layla, a nice breakfast, or an extra cup of coffee with Andrew before we both need to go about our day.
6. Schedule leisure time. Giving yourself something to look forward to – whether it's a staycation weekend at home, an hour of reading before bed, or a big vacation – makes the monotony of your everyday routine all the more bearable. Make sure you always have something relaxing planned, even if it's just a mani/pedi appointment after work or a half an hour that you dedicate to reading your favorite magazine at night.
7. Develop an evening routine. Instead of going on a Netflix binge the minute you clock out for the day, divide your evening into two parts: 1) Do what you need to do to prepare for tomorrow, and 2) relax and unwind. While you're still feeling motivated from the day, pack your lunch, lay out your gym clothes, and take a look at your schedule for the next day. Once that's complete, spend the rest of your night doing whatever it is that you do to relax – make a cup of tea, listen to music, read a book, or do some yoga. You'll sleep a lot better knowing that you're prepared for the day ahead.
Related: It's all about relaxing