It’s the modern version of the age-old question – how do you reduce the stress in your life?

When you have endless daily responsibilities, it is easy to become stressed out. Juggling work-related duties, taking care of the family (which means figuring out what to make for dinner every single evening), paying the bills to keep the roof over your head… it can become overwhelming! Not to mention our tendencies to overschedule with obligations.

What may be helpful is learning how to deal with stress before it starts to take over. Here are 12 achievable ways to lower your stress every day.

12 Achievable Ways to Lower Your Stress Every Day

woman holding her hair and smiling

Get active.

One of the best ways to reduce stress and its negative effects on the body is through exercise. It’s best to stay active frequently to reduce stress. Consider taking a stroll whenever you feel on edge. As soon as I feel the stress of the day getting to me, I step outdoors for some fresh air. The endorphins your body produces as a result of physical activity may lift your spirits.  A daily stroll of even 15 minutes can have a significant impact on how much stress you experience on a regular basis. 

Just breathe.

To relieve stress, sometimes all you need to do is close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. There are numerous breathing techniques to try, but taking simple, slow, deep breaths through your nose and exhaling through your mouth can be beneficial.

Take 5 deep breaths the next time you’re stressed; you’ll be surprised at how much they can help calm your mind, regroup your emotions, and focus. While deep breathing will not necessarily eliminate your stress or prevent a crisis, it does have physical and mental benefits, especially when done on a regular basis.

Listen to music.

Music is an excellent way to de-stress because it diverts your attention away from potential stressors and allows you to unwind. This is especially useful at night when you’re trying to sleep (because sleep is also a great stress reliever!).

There is growing scientific evidence showing that the brain responds to music in very specific ways, and one of them is reducing stress.  Turn on some of your favourite music to help you unwind and take a break from your day whenever you feel overly stressed. The music you listen to can add to your stress if it is not carefully chosen, so perhaps try sticking to calm, more instrumental music… But if you’re like me, sometimes you need some heavy metal or Rage Against the Machine to help get the stress out of your system!

Use aromatherapy.

Our sense of smell is a great partner in de-stressing. Some research has shown that Aromatherapy can help promote calm and relaxation. Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone.”

Scents like lavender, rose, frankincense, sandalwood, or orange blossom are excellent stress relievers. You can use these scents in essential oils in an aromatherapy diffuser, burning incense, adding them to your bath, in body creams (hint: massage), or in candles.

Use positive self-talk.

It can be challenging to be optimistic when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. But staying positive can help you feel better and happier. Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health.

According to research, people who are more inclined to think optimistically are also more inclined to use positive self-talk and more active coping strategies when confronted with stressful situations and challenges. 

When you are generally optimistic, you are better able to deal with everyday stress in a more constructive way.  If you have a generally negative self-talk, you may be perceiving events in your life as more stressful than they need to be, causing yourself unnecessary anxiety and stress. With practice, your self-talk will become less critical of yourself and more accepting of yourself.

Put down the coffee.

From a fellow coffee lover to another, I understand your horror! But bear with me. According to studies, people who consume a lot of caffeine each day are more stressed and anxious than those who don’t.  This is not to say you should give up your daily cup of joe, but most caffeine consumption is through coffee, soft drinks or energy drinks.

If you drink more than one cup of coffee or one can of energy drink per day, it’s time to cut back. Consistently consuming less caffeine can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels. 

Learn to say NO.

Busy schedules can raise our stress levels and eventually cause burnout. When your day is already jam-packed, any unexpected event can easily push you over the edge. 

Take a step back and figure out where you are able to cut back on obligations and tasks that weigh you down, cause you more stress, or don’t bring you joy. When you are asked or invited to do something that does not add value to your life, learn to say “no.” Setting boundaries can be challenging at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets!

Don’t procrastinate.

There are certain things you can’t cut out of your life, like work and family! Putting things off that you don’t want to do may seem like a good idea at the time, but it doesn’t help your stress level. Procrastination forces you to work against a deadline, which adds additional stress to the task. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, it may take a bit of practice and self-discipline to get yourself to a place where you’re better able to schedule your time and tasks. How?

Prioritize your time.

Easier said than done, I realize. But through trial and error, figure out how best to prioritize your time. Whether that is prioritizing your day or week, setting schedules, reminders, or blocks of time for certain tasks, planning and ensuring you are doing what needs to be done, will make you feel more accomplished and less stressed.

Laugh more.

It’s no secret that laughter can help lift your spirits. It also improves your ability to cope with stress and relieves the physical tension that stress causes in your body. Make room in your life so that you can benefit from the power of laughter every day. Spend more time with friends who make you laugh or watch a funny TV show. Add some levity to your life whenever possible; it will make it more enjoyable.

Practice self-care.

When you are taking care of responsibilities and other people, it is easy to neglect your own personal well-being. However, continuing to put yourself last can be detrimental to your mental health.

Every day, set aside some time to focus on your personal wants and needs. This could be a 15-minute walk in the park, a longer-than-usual shower, bubble bath, or leisure reading before bed. You’ve earned this time just for YOU.

Evaluate your life.

Understanding the underlying causes of stress can help you reduce its impact on your mind and body. When considering the factors contributing to your stress, consider your job, relationships, and daily routines.

Although stress is normal, being overwhelmed by it on a regular basis is not. It may be time to make a change in one or more areas of your life to reduce the amount of stress you face. Changes could be minor or major. If it no longer brings you joy, it’s time to let it go.

 

See? It’s not as challenging or difficult as you might think to de-stress every day! It does require some planning and action on your part, but most of the ways I’ve shared are achievable ways to lower your stress every day. Small steps toward reducing stress and improving your mood will pay dividends in the long run.

 

Author

Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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