It’s a little wacky that we live in a world that glamorizes stress. When did it suddenly become okay for us to consistently be running around with frazzled nerves and a to-do list the size of a small book? We have our jobs, our side jobs, our blogs and websites, and it’s easy to understand why stress has taken a permanent residence in our lives. We talked with Berlin-based minimalist lifestyle advocate Anushka Rees about ways to slow down and destress your life. She told us that the main thing to remember is always give any changes you make to your routine at least a full week before you drop them. Benefits like lower stress levels or better sleep quality usually take a while to become obvious. So don’t stress if you’re having trouble not stressing. Just take a step back and take a deep breath — here are some stress-busting tips to keep your heart rate low and make your day-to-day a little better.
1. Have a Morning Ritual: Whether it’s a little yoga routine, making the perfect cup of coffee, taking the dog for a walk or journaling, having something you can look forward to each and every morning is necessary. It will help get you out of bed on time and make mornings less rushed and more enjoyable.
2. Don’t Check Your Email Right Away: We are all guilty of this one. When your phone is your alarm, it’s all too easy to hit snooze and then flip straight to your emails. Turn off notifications so you’re not getting constantly distracted, then at designated times during the day, process your emails all in one go. The key here is to only open every email once and decide what to do with it straight away. Either delete it, act on it or reply.
3. Streamline Your To-Do List: Whether you keep your lists in your phone or stick to good old-fashioned paper, try to set clear priorities and limit the number of things you aim to achieve within one day. Start your work day with 1-3 things that you want to accomplish today and then try to complete those tasks when your mind is fresh and not cluttered up with day-to-day tasks.
4. Create a Distraction-Free Workspace: Multi-tasking may make you feel super productive, but research has shown that it really just slows you down and drains energy. So, close all tabs, turn your phone on silent and, if you work in an office, put your headphones on (even without music) to let other people know you are busy and not available for chats. Try setting a timer and working on one task in intervals for half an hour before taking a little break to regroup.
5. Group the Little Tasks: The best way to keep those pesky little tasks from cluttering up your schedule is to create a separate list for five 20-minute jobs. Then, once a day, or even just a couple of times per week, take an hour to go through your list.
6. Learn Something New: The key here is to let this be a fun time of exploration, not a time to stress about being perfect. You are just discovering something new and expanding your horizons to see if you like it. Pick something you’ve always been curious about, then find a book or a local or online class and learn a little more each day. Not to brag, but we’ve got some pretty killer classes, from photography to knitting, as well as super awesome DIY kits if you’re feeling creative.
7. Protect Your Down Time: If you are passionate about your job, it can be hard to switch off, but your brain needs time to recharge after a long day in order to stay healthy and productive. If you work in an office, try not to continue to work once you get home, and if you work from home, try to keep a regular schedule and when it’s time to “leave work” take the dog for a walk or clear your desk of all work-related stuff.
8. Pretend It’s the Weekend: Research has shown that doing something purely for fun can result in some major happiness. Even though it’s easy to schedule out every minute of your routine, try to make it a point to do something each day that you can look forward to.
9. Be Aware of Social Media: Yes, social media keeps us connected, but it can also be a huge source of stress. Take a moment to consider how social media is making you feel and if the negatives outweigh the positives. You might consider putting your social self on vacation, even just for a couple of weeks.
10. Clear the Clutter: Look around your home/office and notice what cluttered areas make your heart race a little bit. Clutter impacts us more than we realize and can be a major contributor to stress in our lives. Devote a little time each day to doing something small, like cleaning your desk or hanging up your clothes. It makes a huge difference coming home to relax in a neat, organized space.
11. Take Care of Yourself: Yes, we all know we should exercise more, but this doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym for hours. Take care of yourself by not looking at a screen for an hour, giving some love to your cat, drinking green tea instead of coffee or just walking around the block. Taking a break from work reduces stress, gets your blood flowing and helps improve sleep patterns.
12. Go to Bed Earlier to Read: Research has shown that looking at screens before bed can really mess up your sleep pattern. So instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed or watching TV until you fall asleep, spend just 30 minutes reading that book you’ve been meaning to finish since last year.
13. Make a Healthy Dinner: Don’t know how to cook? That’s okay! Grab a cookbook and teach yourself. Not only is home cooking more healthy, it’s also fun and therapeutic. Pick a recipe (we’ve got lots of healthy recipe suggestions), turn on some music and give yourself plenty of time so you don’t feel rushed.
14. Get Some Natural Light: Working in a dungeon with no windows? Take a mid-morning walk, eat lunch outside and do your best to get a little light. It’ll perk you right up.
15. Forget Yesterday, Focus on Today: So, you didn’t work out, you didn’t finish that project and the laundry still isn’t folded. That was yesterday — don’t dwell on it and stress yourself out by telling yourself of all the ways you failed. Today is a new day and a fresh start.
What are your favorite ways to de-stress during the day? Share your thoughts in the comments below!