10 Simple Ways to Live a Less Stressful Life

breathe relax smile

Image credit: advanceantiagingskincare.wordpress.com

Originally Posted: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2008

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George F. Burns

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

Stress is a major problem for many people — a hectic, stressful job, a chaotic home life, bills to worry about, and bad habits such as unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking can lead to a mountain of stress.

If your life is full of stress, like mine once was, there are some simple things you can do to get your life to a more manageable level.

Now, your life will probably never be stress-free — I don’t think that’s even desirable, even if it is possible, because stress is something that challenges us and helps us grow. At a reasonable level. But when stress gets too high, it causes us to be unhappy and unhealthy.

It wasn’t that long ago when I was working long hours in a very stressful job, with little time for my family, smoking and eating fatty foods and not exercising. I had a lot of debt and too many bills. I was unhappy and stressed out all the time. I was losing hair … OK, actually that was because of genetics, but still. I was pretty stressed.

So I made some drastic changes. I quit my job. I simplified my life. I quit smoking and started exercising and eating healthier. I began to eliminate my debt. And I learned some habits that, when applied on a daily basis, can really transform the way you live, in a positive way.

How did I do all of this? One thing at a time. I didn’t do a major rehab of my life. I changed one habit a month, and gradually over the course of a year or two changed a lot of things in my life.

I won’t guarantee that all of these will work for you. They worked for me, but each person is different. Pick and choose the ones that will work best for you, and give them a try. One at a time.

1. One thing at a time. This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress, and you can start today. Right now. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Clear your desk of distractions. Pick something to work on. Need to write a report? Do only that. Remove distractions such as phones and email notifications while you’re working on that report. If you’re going to do email, do only that. This takes practice, and you’ll get urges to do other things. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better at it.

2. Simplify your schedule. A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Simplify by reducing the number of commitments in your life to just the essential ones. Learn to say no to the rest — and slowly get out of commitments that aren’t beneficial to you. Schedule only a few important things each day, and put space between them. Get out of meetings when they aren’t absolutely essential. Leave room for down time and fun.

3. Get moving. Do something each day to be active — walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, do yoga. It doesn’t have to be grueling to reduce stress. Just move. Have fun doing it.

4. Develop one healthy habit this month. Other than getting active, improving your health overall will help with the stress. But do it one habit at a time. Eat fruits and veggies for snacks. Floss every day. Quit smoking. Cook something healthy for dinner. Drink water instead of soda. One habit at a time.

5. Do something calming. What do you enjoy that calms you down? For many people, it can be the “get moving” activity discussed above. But it could also be taking a nap, or a bath, or reading, or having sex (which can also be considered a “get moving” activity if you do it for longer than 5 minutes). Other people are calmed by housework or yardwork. Some people like to meditate, or take a nature walk. Find your calming activity and try to do it each day.

6. Simplify your finances. Finances can be a drain on your energy and a major stressor. If that’s true with you, figure out ways to simplify things. Automate savings and bill payments and debt payments. Spend less by going shopping (at malls or online) much less. Find ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money.

7. Have a blast! Have fun each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I like to play with my kids — they take my mind off everything and are really hilarious. I also like to play sports (again, often with my kids). Board games are fun. Sex, again, can be a fun activity. Whatever you choose, be sure to laugh.

8. Get creative. Throwing yourself into a creative activity is another great way to de-stress and to prevent stress. I like writing, but others like to paint or play music or sketch or make pottery or do interior design or build things.

9. Declutter. This is a favorite of mine. I like to take 20-30 minutes and just go through a room, getting rid of stuff we don’t use or need anymore. I look around at anything that’s cluttering up a room, and get rid of it or find a better place for it. When I’m done, I have a nice, peaceful environment for work, play, and living. Do this a little at a time — it can be one of your “fun activities”.

10. Be early. I will admit that it’s hard to be early when you have to get 6 kids ready (seriously — try it!). But being late can be very stressful. Try to leave earlier by getting ready earlier, or by scheduling more space between events. Things always take longer than normal, so schedule some buffer time: extra time to get ready, to commute, to do errands before you need to be somewhere, to attend a meeting before another scheduled appointment. If you get somewhere early, it’s good to have some reading material.

How do you keep the stress in your life to a manageable level? Share in the comments.

“Loafing needs no explanation and is its own excuse.” – Christopher Morley

http://www.zenhabits.net

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The Art of Touch

Massage

Image Credit: Alovingtouchmassage.com

When was the last time you received a massage? Has it been so long that you do not even remember? Do you go so often that you have a regular massage therapist that you see and know there first and last name, what their last vacation was, and how many kids they have? How about in-between, the one’s that go to whoever they can when they can, which leaves you satisfied at some moments and dissatisfied at others. Should we go when we want to, when we can afford it, or when we have time? Or should we make time, put it in our budget, and schedule it?

All of our lives are different along with the various income levels, which is why there are so many price levels of massage therapists out there. You can get a membership discount at a chain massage place, like Massage Envy, or you can look out for the discounts on resources like Groupon or Living Social.

The important factor is to allow the art of touch to relieve your stress, so you can continue to live your life on purpose. Not all stress is bad stress. Some stress is needed to keep balance and know how to handle stressful situations when they arise, yet, stress should not be on overload to where it will not allow us to function properly or compete our daily tasks effectively.

Schedule that massage. Make a budget for it. Do whatever it is you need to do to make it happen. Even if you are the one who believes you only have time for a chair massage, before exiting Whole Foods on grocery day.

When you go on a regular, you will begin to see whose style of massage you like over the other. Do you know a friend who is a massage therapist or someone who is training to be one? Have them practice on you and give them a tip for their services even though the massage is free. They will share all the intimate details with you from the type of clients they have massaged, like which male gets visibly turned on by the art of touch or which female smiles the widest or even when that time someone “let it rip” in the middle of the massage. As long as no one is attacking or stalking anyone, I think the stories are quite amusing.

In the end of the day, laughter heals the soul, but the art of touch heals the body. The touch is so deep that it has the potential to carry out the toxins in your body, so be sure to cleanse with lots of water after a massage and make sure you schedule it. I believe happy people live the longest. Higher stress levels takes away from the happiness.

-Your Life Coach, AP

Your summer reading list: 70+ book picks from TED speakers and attendees

Awesome list. Thanks for sharing!

TED Blog

TED_Summer_Reading_2015The tables in bookstores can be overwhelming: Every book cover looks appealing, every blurb glows with praise. Sometimes, you just need a recommendation from a human, someone you trust. Below, 10 members of the TED community — with very different points of view — share the books they think you’ll enjoy this summer. Their selections are wonderfully untethered to new releases and bestsellers, with a little something for everyone.


David Eagleman and TED
Mind-bending fiction, picked by David Eagleman

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist whose sensory vest may just expand the limits of human perception. But this TED speaker is also a writer  — of both fiction (his Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives has been translated into 28 languages) and nonfiction (Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain was a bestseller). His recommendations highlight mind-bending fiction:

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges. “An inspiration that never runs out of batteries for me…

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Love the life you live!

LoveLife

Photo Credit: cris-mary.com

Loving the life you live is kind of like loving the one you are with, someone once said to me while sitting in a conference like room during a social meet and greet. I thought about it and could not agree more but then reconsidered my opinion months later. If you are in a relationship and feel like you have to, as in being forced to, love that individual in your relationship then that is certainly not healthy. If you are living a life you are not happy with certainly, you have the ability to change it.

Some change their lives to the extreme by changing their bodies through an ultimate transformation (almost like transformers) except you are not putting on a costume for a movie, you are under a knife for life changing surgery. Others are changing their lives by choosing to change their careers or choosing to buy that dream home they always wanted.

Why not do the same in a relationship? Some people are. They are getting a divorce instead of working things out or feel there is nothing left to be worked out and may simply grow so far a part that they feel nothing for their spouse anymore. So surely, this can be done in life. If you are unhappy living a life you do not want to live, you do have the power to change it so that you can love the life you live.

You can change your eating habits and work out plans to lose that weight you always desired to lose. You can change your organization skills to improve on completing tasks at a timely manner to feel more accomplished each year. You can change your negative thinking by incorporating more positivity in your life by the things you do and the people you include in your circles. Try volunteering more for a local non-profit organization whose mission and vision aligns with your own as a person.

You have control on your life to make it one to love. To begin you must love yourself. Not in a narcissistic way of overindulging in conceit but true self-love that instills positive vibes that radiate out into the universe.

-AP

#iHealthAdvocate

“You Look Healthy!”

healthy look blogCredit: Womansday.com

What does healthy actually look like? I had an interesting week last week. Full of amazing coaching and mentoring with some personal growth and self development sprinkled with a little sunshine and refreshing rain. For a brief background, I must inform you if you do not know already, it is hard for most women to go anywhere without a man staring at her rear end, breasts, or more. It is another typical day and I am not wearing my breasts or butt out. A middle aged man stops briefly as I am entering the grocery store and he is leaving but must tell me something so important.

I sometimes take longer routes depending on who is in my direct path to a destination to avoid the stares and comments. Some women do not agree with my views and take the longer routes to get that extra attention. To each their own. However, sometimes most women who are constantly gawked at or “cat-called” want a break. This was that day and when he briefly stopped, he simply said, “you look healthy.”

Catching me completely off guard, I said “thank you” shockingly, but began to ponder what does healthy actually look like. It is almost the same as beauty, for beauty varies from culture to culture and from eye to eye. The beholder makes the rules. But I wanted to know, really… what does healthy look like?

What does healthy look like to you or have you ever gotten such a remark or compliment? What would you say in response if anything? Men, if a woman said you looked healthy, what would your response be? I am actually curious on this and certainly was thankful that my a$$ was not devoured by this man’s eyes nor did he pitch a story to get my number. Sometimes, some men stare so obviously with your back turned but you can still feel the heat burning through your pants through your panties from their eyes, even without seeing them in your central vision or your peripheral vision. Yes indeed, it was an interesting week.

-AP

Pronunciation and Culture

Often times, people mispronounce my name. Phonetically it is (Aneesa) but spelled Anisa. You can probably guest the many ways in which people have pronounced it. I have noticed that when people grow up with “non-challenging” names, nicknames are given to individuals they come across with “challenging names.” I have also noticed that some people with “challenging names” more and more give themselves a nick name to make it easier for other people unfamiliar to their names to pronounce. I have been called Anis- a, Anees, Anisia, Lisa, and more. Some friends I have say it gets tiring to keep on correcting every single person you come across or people begin to think you are crazy when you hug them for pronouncing your name correctly on the first try. Have you ever worked with someone who consistently says your name wrong? In their world, you mean nothing to them. Those who have said names wrong, admit mistake and work harder to pronounce correctly. There is power in a name. If you do not know where your name is from or what it means, find out. It is interesting and boosts confidence. My mother passed when I was young so I did not learn what my name meant until I was older. My mother was also adopted and perhaps felt the importance of a name even moreso than others because she was called many names maybe outside of her birth name. I have met many people over the years who either change their names due to various reasons or have learned that they do not carry the name they were born with due to the adoption process and adoption parents wanting to change their names. Sometimes parental figures name their children after people they knew that were significant in their own lives. Others seek out names through searches and decide on who they would want their children to be (finding a meaning and matching the name to it). Whatever you decide, make that name powerful! Make people pronounce your name the way it should be pronounced unless you approve a nickname or substitute name. I worked at a university and saw many undergraduate students from international parents through coaching sessions. Many of them had very cultural names but wanted to be called an American name. America is a huge meeting pot with so many races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and unique names. I believe the only true Americans are Native Americans and that everyone has their own unique culture. Now whether individuals or families choose to be in-tuned with their cultures are their own personal choice(s). Do not deny that from them however. We all bring something unique to the table. The majority of us are all mixed up with several ethnicities and backgrounds through various generations. Nowadays, no one is full of any one race or background anymore. Let us embrace our uniqueness and if you choose not to, respect those that do. Call them by their name! Do not take that power from them! -AP

Graduate School

RibbonCutting

I started my own nonprofit organization to serve fighters of breast cancer after losing my own mother to breast cancer. On her birthday this year, she would have been 63 years young. Since starting my nonprofit organization, I realized that everyone in my field was typically male, caucasian, over 50 years of age, had an advanced degree, and was considered pretty wealthy. I knew my nonprofit would struggle so I had to strategize this accurately in order for my nonprofit to survive. I decided to go back to school. I could not decide between getting a degree in the communications field (Masters in Mass Communications) or something else. I looked up schools inside the United States and then I knew my next step. I would obtain my Masters in Public Administration concentrating on Nonprofit Management. I already had the communications skills I needed. I needed to grow in dealing with the various public entities as this is what I would be doing with my nonprofit organization. I also knew that I made some simple mistakes that could have been avoided in the start up process if I only had a mentor or personal experience in the nonprofit sector already. I was accepted to the University of Central Florida and did not even wait for the other letters of acceptance to come through. My GRE was waived because of my field experience in the nonprofit sector. I made one visit with my sister and knew this was the right decision. The traveling back and forth between two states began to weigh on me but I could not give up. I was on my way to becoming a better me for my nonprofit strategically. When there are things we truly want in life, we make the sacrifices to make it happen. People ask me all the time how to start a nonprofit organization and want to start one on their own. Most do not after they realize all the work, time, money, and dedication it takes. This is my purpose. Higher education is key. What are you waiting for? AP