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

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

Stress Reduced Living

AP

I live life by the principles to reduce as much stress as possible. A positive vibes only kind of lifestyle that incorporates physical, mental, and spiritual bliss. We all have stress and all stress is not bad stress. Some stress helps us grow and move mountains. Some stress truly gives us the necessary tools we need, like those ethical decision-making skills we need in life.

How do you incorporate a reduced stress living environment? For me… I like to start with self. What am I tolerating around me that I need to stop? Could it be people, job (not career), some family members (we all have at least one), or simply daily habits that we would like to stop because they add stress to our lives (like bad eating habits)? It could be all of the above. You need some sun and some relaxation. There are studies that show people who have access to sun are more happier people. Ask me about the studies so that I can share them with you.

Try traveling more often. I love traveling. The ultimate stress reduction tip for me is traveling, that could be a number one for most, but not for all because we are all different but I would recommend it for all. Travel more often! Take that trip that you think you are unable to afford. There are countless ways to have a great trip and not break the bank with all the savings that are out there today. Living Social has some great trip getaways for a low costs as well as other sites out there. Travel with groups. Groups discounts can help everyone save. Stop putting it off. Put it in your calendar and book it now so you can stop making excuses.

Every year I plan at least one international trip and three domestic trips. I went on a seven night cruise along the Western Mediterranean after spending a little time in Barcelona and was able to visit Marseille, Monte Carlo, Pisa, Rome, Sorrento, Pompeii, Capri, and more. The years prior I had a fabulous time in Toronto, Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and always enjoy a visit to Puerto Rico and St. Croix. I am looking forward to some great trips lined up for this year.

In the end of the day, you work hard and deserve a break. You have to take it for yourself to reduce stress in your life. Come back refreshed and reenergized ready to conquer all of life’s obstacles and then we can work on those bad habits and other stress areas in your life.

AP