Doesn’t it feel like a joke when you visit your doctor for some ailment and they tell you that you need to reduce stress in your life? Stress seems to be the singular cause that pops up as a trigger for so many disorders – both mentally and physically. But you can’t exactly quit your job, desert your family and move to a tropical beach to sip umbrella drinks all day. Well, you can, but it’s not very realistic or sustainable.
This is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. Some of us make them a habit by which we live forever. And other resolutions fall by the wayside, possibly because they are unrealistic or not clearly defined as to how to reach the end goal. Here are a few of my easy-to-implement suggestions for a stress-free year ahead.
Social Media Angst No More!
Most people will agree, social media is a major time suck. I have to be involved with it for work purposes and I like to keep in touch with family and good friends far away. But I have discovered that jumping on it for 30 minutes often turns into a 2-3-hour marathon. Plus, various people (especially in online groups) may be cruel, angry, and/or extremely opinionated with you as they are postured behind the anonymity and privacy of their keyboards. Politics and religion, strike some pretty horrific chords these days, creating a lot of undue stress – not only for the posters but the readers too. There are trolls with the sole purpose of making someone’s day miserable. Don’t allow it to be yours. Unfollow, unfriend or block the haters or leave the group. Set a daily timer, if you want to cut back hours. Tell people it is best to contact you via some other manner so you do not feel obligated to check it so often.
Come Out of the Closet!
Most professional closet organizers will tell you if you have not worn it or used it in 6 months – GET RID OF IT! I will go easy on you and give you a one-year deadline. Take a serious look at your clothes. No longer fit? Out of style? Worn out? Time to donate or sell it to someone who will appreciate it more than you. That goes for boxes of “stuff” you have stored away and never opened for years. In a de-clutter moment recently, I opened an old box in storage to find a bunch of old – really old – cell phones and point-and-shoot cameras which no longer work and chargers that didn’t even fit anything in the box. That was an easy goodbye! Sure, save a few sentimental things from childhood or a lover, but I am here to tell you, there is a huge weight taken off your shoulders when you release stuff you really don’t need or use.
Just Say NO: Set a Boundary
Your daughter’s girl scout troop asked you to be cookie mother. Your manager at work asked you to join some meetup networking group to find more leads for your sales team. Your cousi
Sleep Like a Hibernating Bear!
“I can survive fine on 4 hours of sleep.” No, you can’t. Not continuously anyway. The body needs its time to reset and rejuvenate on a nightly basis. Especially as we are developing or aging. Sleep experts will tell you the ideal is 7-8 hours of shut-eye. Make it a habit of going to bed an hour or two earlier than you do now. Begin with 15-minute increments so it is manageable. Do not bring your phone or tablet to bed or watch TV. If you have trouble falling asleep drink some chamomile tea and read or take something doctor approved like CBD oil. Or if you can push your alarm clock later in the mornings, try that.
Vacations are not for Sissies!
Reset the clock, turn off your smartphone, spend some time discovering a new place and focusing on family or friends. Travel is not only exciting and educational, but it destresses your life too. There is someplace you can visit to fit just about any budget or desire. One with nature camping at a national park, a beach hut on Bora Bora, or a foodie tour of Italy? The possibilities are endless and the resources are at your fingertips. But the key is to do something you enjoy. Something that makes you smile, relax and forget the stress you left behind.
Me, Me, Me!
“Me” time doesn’t necessarily mean being alone (although that is a great option). It is about what “me” likes to do, but can’t seem to find enough time to do it. Put it on your calendar weekly or monthly and block out that time for something you desire – with your phone turned off. Date night? Hobby? A bubble bath? Watching a movie on Netflix? Make it an established appointment and feel the stress melt away.
You have heard it before, working out releases endorphins which carry on as a de-stressor throughout the day. Working out does not need to be drudgery. You can take a hike after a tough day at work and breathe some fresh air. Go to a dance class. Walk around your home with ankle weights while cleaning. The key is to get moving and burn a few more calories than last year. Not only does it regulate stress levels, you actually might like the new body transforming before your eyes.
“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience