11 Little Ways To Manage Everyday Stress

So, it feels like the world is ripping itself apart at the seams, right? Every morning we're waking up to a litany of bad news; check your phone at brunch, and the latest horrific tragedy is rocking the interwebs. But you have to find little ways to manage stress throughout the day, you guys. You have to.

While being informed and speaking up about injustices is an important part of being a contributing member of this world, torturing yourself with constant social media access won't really make much of a difference. It won't alleviate the pain of a family grieving. It won't carry the victims of violence to safety. Wanting to change the world is admirable (and honestly, the world is in some serious need of changing), but in order to do that, even the most committed warriors need to practice some self-care. And the most basic self-care is to manage stress throughout your day as best you can. It doesn't require a big time commitment, or a whole shopping list. More than anything else, it's about developing a support web of coping mechanisms that work best for you and your situation.

Give yourself permission to check out. Just a little bit. Just once in a while. Maybe try one of these 11 things. As small as they are, they can do a world of good for your headspace.

1. Invest In An Actual Clock

The point of this one is to prevent you from using your phone as a clock, so you're not constantly checking it even when you only meant to see whether it's time for lunch. Also, charge your phone and laptop outside your bedroom. Or, at the very least, away from your bed. Checking Twitter and Facebook and Instagram first thing in the morning is the best way to immediately introduce stress in your life.

2. Develop A Wake-Up Routine

Before you even get out of bed. Before you even open your eyes. Stretch your arms, wiggle your toes. Breath in for a count of five, hold it for five, release it for five, and repeat at least two more times. You got this.

3. Practice Meal Planning

Studies have shown that eating breakfast every morning can reduce stress and improve mental function. But mornings are generally the worst, because sleeping is always better, so what's a person to do? Here is the solution: Practicing meal planning once a week (like Sunday!) and knowing exactly what you'll be eating every morning can take out some of the frantic, running-around stress that tends to build up in the morning. And you'll be full of pancakes, or eggs, or whatever make-ahead breakfast you like. Everybody wins.

4. Read A Book During Your Morning Commute

A real book — one made of paper. A physical book that you hold in your hands. Being stuck on a train with what is seemingly just a sea of pointy elbows is, uh, not fun. But reading a book, as opposed to playing games or scrolling through the latest Twitter arguments, can provide a few moments of real escapism. Try taking this quiz to figure out the best summer read for you and your ~interests~.

5. Smile At Your Co-Workers

While the science behind this is still a bit undertested, some studies have proven that making a habit of smiling can actually decrease levels of stress. And establishing friendly relationships at work — definitely good for your mood! Who doesn't like friends?

6. Before Getting To Work, Meditate

Just for a few minutes. It makes a difference. Here's a beginner's guide.

7. Spend The First 15 Minutes Of Your Lunch Break Walking Outside

Or if it's the winter and it's very, very cold, walkin' around the office. Get your legs moving, get your heart pumping, and most importantly, get away from your phone and your computer.

8. Before Sitting Back Down After Lunch, Stretch

Sitting all day is not good for you, but it's the life that a lot of us lead. Get that stress out of your back and shoulders with these yoga poses specifically designed for desk-dwelling humans. It'll refresh you through that really awful 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. slump that seemingly lasts for 100 years.

9. Set A Weekly Dinner Date With Friends

Excessive amounts of social media use can, ironically, be extremely isolating. Setting a weekly, standing dinner date with friends — where you can complain about work, laugh about inside jokes, plan future trips, tell one another how really, really, really incredible you are — can remind you that there are actually good things in the world. Like friends. And pizza.

10. Practice Pre-Bed Yoga

After a long day, get your endorphins up with some pre-bed yoga. Get that physical build up of stress out. Take stock of your life. Give thanks.

11. Actually Go. To. Bed.

Treat yourself like an actual baby and get yourself on a good sleep schedule. One that includes eight hours of sleep. Ensuring your body gets enough sleep does more than just give you some rest. Sleep is the time we give our minds and bodies to heal themselves. It hits the re-set button. It prepares you for battle the next day.

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