From minor challenges to a major crisis, stress is part of life. Whether it’s a global pandemic or a major snowstorm passing through the area, we know that we can’t always control our circumstances; but we can control how we respond to them.
When stress becomes overwhelming or even chronic, it can take a toll on our well-being. That’s why it’s important to have effective stress relievers that can calm our minds and bodies. Here are 5 things you can implement today that will reduce your stress.
1. Make your bed first thing in the morning.
This accomplishes several things. First, you are starting your day off productively by completing a task, and there is a neurological dopamine award to that. You are also more inclined to keep your room tidy with a made bed.
How you keep your room has a direct effect on your stress level. It’s hard to feel calm, relaxed, competent and grounded when surrounded by disorganization. A properly made bed shows that you care about yourself and your home, and that feeling of being cared for helps lift your mood and lighten your emotional burdens.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, found that it even makes you feel happier. During her research for the book, she discovered that one of the most common simple changes that led to happiness was learning to make the bed each morning.
Second, you’ll sleep better when you climb into a freshly made bed each night. Studies show that you sleep almost 20% better when you climb into a neatly made bed.
2. Before you go to bed, make a list of everything you need to complete the next day.
The benefits of making a to-do list have been well-documented. As human beings, we are more confident, less anxious, and more productive when we have structure. When things are feeling chaotic, taking the time to write down the tasks you have to complete each day brings order to your day.
Studies show that people fall asleep faster and sleep better when they take the time to make a list each night. You are less inclined to worry about the next day when you have sketched out a plan.
You also get a little dopamine burst in the reward center of your brain every time you cross something off your list, and at the end of each day, you can look back over what you’ve accomplished.
3. Go inbox zero before you end your workday on Friday.
Psychologists say you should never underestimate the power of a clean inbox. Email represents incomplete tasks and unmet goals. While many people say you should leave the office every day with an empty inbox, that’s impossible for most of us. What is possible is tying up every loose end before you shift into weekend mode. That way, you’ll be able to be fully present for your family and friends, and you can start the week knowing that you completed all of the prior week’s tasks.
4. Don’t put off until later what you can do in two minutes.
We create needless stress in our lives when we let things pile up. If you can complete something in two minutes or less, don’t think about it, do it. Maybe it’s calling to schedule that appointment. Perhaps it’s answering that email or rinsing off your lunch dishes and sticking them in the dishwasher. Do you have a habit of letting a basket full of clean laundry sit in the basket all week? That’s a two-minute task, so do it and be done with it.
5. Make an appointment with yourself each day and stubbornly refuse to break it.
When our lives get hectic, and to-do lists get long, we tend to slip to the bottom of our priority list. So, schedule a fifteen-to-twenty-minute appointment with yourself each day. Put it on your calendar and give it the highest priority. The best part? You get to set the agenda! Maybe this looks like stretching and walking around the block. Perhaps you’ll make yourself a mug of tea and sit outside and soak in nature. Treat yourself and refuse to break the date no matter how much you have on your plate. You’ll find that you’ll have more to give to others by taking time to pour into yourself.