Stress… that old friend who keeps inviting themselves over to your house and even when you try and lock the door or ignore their texts, they still manage to find a way into your life. Back in college, when I was first introduced to “stress”, I put way too much on my plate and was rarely ever not busy with studying in the library, volunteering any chance I could at medical clinics, attending sorority meetings, and working my life away to try and be successful. What is crazy though is that I thought those days were hard. Little did I know that those were the easy days! There is positive stress (also known as eustress) and then there is negative stress. Busy schedules, competitive situations, traveling often, that’s more positive stress… it can be somewhat healthy because it can inspire and motivate you and result in success! But then there is negative stress, the kind that causes anxiety, leave you feeling very tired, and unhappy! When you’re so busy with your work and you can’t get enough sleep, when you’re unhappy with something in your life that you physically struggle getting out of bed, when you are feeling unfulfilled or feel like a failure after trying so hard. I’ve experienced both positive and negative stress lately.
I’ve heard statements from friends lately such as “Your life is so glamorous.”, “You’re so perfect.”, “Can I have your life?” and every time I hear that, I just kind of laugh at the inaccuracy. Everybody has their own challenges, struggles, and difficult things going on in their life (let this be your daily reminder to be kind to everyone!) and my life is on the other end of the world from glamorous. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have the worst life by any means- in fact, I do consider myself very, very lucky. I love my family, have wonderful friends, an angel of a fiance, a sweet pup and a cozy home, and a fairly exciting life; however, I did get laid off from an amazing job this summer, lost two of my very special family members to cancer right before that, think I’ve learned what anxiety is, and am still trying to successfully balance work life, blog life, and personal life. Despite the fact that this year has proved to be one of the most difficult years, I have actually learned a lot on how to manage stress and remain pretty happy and calm through it all! Scroll down to see my tips and tricks on how to manage and reduce stress and live your best life.
Tips for Managing Stress and Living a Happier Life
1. Pick 3!
Choose the top 3 priorities in your life currently and focus on those for a specific length of time. Is it reaching a specific goal in your personal life? Is it just being healthy and happy at home? Is it a work goal? Your fitness? Relationships? Is it a spiritual or religious journey? Finding a new job? Everybody’s priorities are different but you can’t do everything. It’s important to choose a few to really focus and give 100% on or else you’ll be putting 10% to multiple things and set yourself up for failure.
2. Put things in perspective and be thankful.
Things can always be worse. I know that may not be the case for some people, but for the majority of reasons people are stressed – money, work, etc., it could be worse. Simply taking a moment to be thankful for what you do have during hard times can instantly reduce the stress.
3. Have a weekend where the only plan is to have no plans!
It can be hard to have weekend that doesn’t include any plans with other people but schedule a mini beach getaway if you can! Having a weekend to sort your thoughts out and really relax and wind down is crucial. I tried to have one of these weekends at home for the longest time and once Sunday night came around, I still didn’t feel ready for the week ahead; SO, we decided to get away and go to the beach with no distractions. It felt amazing to not have any plans for two days and the ocean is the best medicine for everything.
4. De-clutter and clean.
It’s amazing at how de-cluttering your house can also help de-clutter your mind. Take a few hours to clean-up every room in your house, your car, and your closets. I’m sure you heard of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s true, y’all!
5. Take a look at your calendar for the next two months, once. Then, focus on each day as it comes.
I like to look at my calendar for the next two months at the beginning of the month and it prepares my mind for what is to come. However, I only do that once a month and then I take each day by day. Find a system that works for your brain but doesn’t stress you out.
Do you have any tasks that can be delegated to someone else? It can be hard to ask someone else to do something because you don’t want to add more to their to-do list but it never hurts to ask! There are also businesses for these types of things. I’m a HUGE fan of ordering groceries online now. It has saved a lot of time on Sunday’s and for only $5 at Harris Teeter (others have this too now), you can have someone else do all of the shopping for you and you just pick-up at a convenient time!
7. Make time for exercise, even if it is just 30 minutes.
I have struggled with this aspect of my life this summer. This might be an obvious one, but it’s crazy what exercise does for your mind. I used to think “well, if I don’t do intense exercise for an hour, I might as well just not do it at all” but that is so wrong. Taking just 30 minutes to even walk each day is necessary for my happiness. It literally pumps up your brain and sets your mind right.
8. Say “no”.
Saying no is more simple than you think. I used to be the absolute worst at this but now I have learned that you can’t attend everything you’re invited to and you don’t have to feel obligated to. A schedule full of social events can be fun but it can be draining and depending on what type of person you are, you might need some nights off. Introverts recharge their brains by spending time alone while extroverts recharge by being with people. Do what is best for you!
9. Have a “me routine”.
Whether it is first thing in the morning or right before you head to bed, or even a weekly thing, have something that you look forward to for you! Is it a book you enjoy reading? Is it listening to your favorite playlist on Spotify? Is it making time in your week for a yoga class or hey, maybe you like hip-hop class (Side note: If you haven’t heard of The Fitness Marshall, please google right now)? Is it making time on Sunday’s to get to church in time for all the good music? I like to get ready in the mornings listening to some positive music and right before I leave for work, I like to read a page in this book. Find a routine that does nothing but make you happy and calm!
Hope these tips help! Happy FRIDAY!