6 Little Things You Can Easily Do To Make Every Day Significantly Less Stressful
Time isn't infinite. But sometimes the list of "things you need to do" is infinite, or at the very least, feels that way. So when you have less time than you have things to do in that time (aka, pretty much every day for most of us), things have a tendency to get stressful. You can approach this problem one of two ways: You can get hyper-anxious and stressed out, panic, not get everything done because you're busier worrying about getting it done/tearing our your hair/being too overwhelmed to even know where to start, or you can take a deep breath, focus, and work through your day without turning yourself into a whirlwind of hyperventilation and tears. The second one sounds much better, right? Of course, but it's a task which is obviously easier said than done.
As someone who has had a lot of experience with stress and who is subsequently hyper-organized to avoid/diminish stressful situations as much as possible, I feel that, by this point in my life, I've pretty much nailed "getting shit done." I've also figured out a bunch of small ways in which to make every day seem a little bit more manageable, and a little bit less stressful. No, don't worry: none of these involve taking a "chill pill". They're really simple acts that, should you choose to adopt them, will make your day feel much breezier, even if your day involves fitting thirty-seven thousand impossible tasks into your waking hours.
1. Make your bed in the morning
The power of a made bed is magical and unquantifiable. It's about starting the day as you want to live that day: orderly and in control. As soon as you get out of the bed, make the bed. As you get ready to begin your day, having this neat space at the centre of your room can make things feel much less chaotic from the get go. There's something about a pile of messy blankets in front of you as you rush about trying to shower/do your hair/eat breakfast that makes everything feel more frantic. If you stop and take the thirty seconds it takes to smooth our your blanket and puff your pillows, you'll start your day with a tiny little sense of achievement and authority, which will make the next task (even big, professional ones) seem more within your command.
Whereas making your bed is a psychological trick to help you get your brain out of the chaos-zone, exercising is the physical answer to stress. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands. Happy people also stress less, and exercise will get rid of a lot of anxiety. It doesn't even have to be a full hour of gym time or yoga class if you're really pressed for time. When I'm busy, I like to take a 10 minute walk, or sit for 3 minutes with my legs up the wall to stimulate some blood flow. When you work out your body, your mind will follow suit.
3. Write a list
Stress is often caused by daily tasks seeing insurmountable. At the start of the day (or the night before), write a list of things you need to do, no matter how big or how small. It will help you to minimize the idea of what you need to accomplish on any given day by narrowing it down into smaller goals. Also, as you go, you get to tick things off, which will give you a nice little sense of achievement every time.
4. Prepare your meals
One of the most stressful things to find time to do on a heavy day is eat. What's worse is when you're super busy with other things, food stops being a priority, and not only can you wind up eating really poorly (I mean, if you're in New York, there's one dollar pizza slice everywhere which is cheap, fast and convenient, and thus, insanely tempting for busy people), you can wind up not eating at all. If you take the time to prepare for your day the evening before or in the morning, you'll make things much easier for yourself during the day. All you need is five minutes: put some leftovers in a container, cut up some fruit or veggies, make a sandwich. If you go into the day knowing what you're going to eat (especially at lunch time), you'll take a little load off your shoulders and ensure you stay energized and even keeled because nothing says stress more than hanger and low blood sugar.
5. Don't play Candy Crush
Sometimes when you're stressed, you can shut down. You know what I'm talking about. The P word. PROCRASTINATION. The answer is simple: Don't. Don't play Candy Crush, or whatever your particular go-to procrastivity happens to be. This might make you feel less stressed in the moment (forgetting the pressures of the real world to momentarily disappear candies by matching them together) but ultimately will leave you feeling more stressed when you realize you've just wasted time (possibly a lot of it) disappearing fictional candies by matching them together when you could have been doing something that actually needed doing.
6. Sit alone, in silence, for 3 minutes
Look, I know I just said that I get shit done, but sometimes I need to take a moment to not get any shit done, and just breathe, and put everything in perspective. There's nothing wrong with doing that. Make yourself a cup of tea (or some other relaxing kind of drink) and look out the window meaningfully and reflectively. Be silent. Make silence around you. Turn off all external stimulants. Do not look at your phone. Just be with your self for a few minutes before diving back into business, and momentarily let the calmness, and the fact that even when you stop the world keeps on turning, calm you.