If there’s one truth about stress, it’s that it’s universal. Everyone has something stressful going on, and most of the time, it’s just the day-to-day frustration and overwhelm that are the culprits. If you have trouble keeping on an even keel when dealing with everyday stressors, there are some steps you can take to make your days run more smoothly. Check out this list of nine ways to help relieve daily stress and see if you can implement some changes that will keep you happier and more stress-free.
1. Have a Routine
When you know what comes next, a lot of your decisions will already be made for you. For example, your morning routine probably includes the same tasks each day: Get up, make your bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get your shoes on, etc. Some days, however, you might wander out to the kitchen to eat breakfast first, then you notice you’re scurrying around when it’s time to leave because you aren’t yet dressed. By doing the same things in the same order each day, you’ll know you’re on schedule and you won’t forget anything.
To keep your daily stress to a minimum, set up a routine for various tasks that you need to accomplish at various points of the day and of the week. For example, do all of you banking on Fridays, go grocery shopping after work on Mondays, and plan to spend every Saturday morning at home cleaning until lunchtime.
2. Go to Bed Earlier
If you’re finding it hard to get up in the morning and that throws your whole day off, the simplest solution might be to go to bed earlier. This will ensure that you get the sleep you need, which makes it easier for you to handle day-to-day stress. Also, when you’re well-rested, you won’t be spending your mornings trying to catch up and making yourself overwhelmed so early in the morning.
If you’re not tired earlier than your current bedtime, try just moving your bedtime routine up 15 minutes at a time. If you normally start getting ready for bed at 11:00 pm, make the effort to begin the process at 10:45. A few days later, move that time to 10:30, and so on, until you achieve your target bedtime.
3. Wake Up Earlier
Getting up earlier to get a jumpstart on the day is another great way to relieve daily stress. You could spend 15 minutes exercising, reading, meditating, or doing something else that will help you start the day off on the right foot. It’s also nice to be up and ready for the day before the rest of the family gets up. Going to bed earlier will help you get up earlier, so begin with that. Don’t start attempting to get up earlier while keeping the same too-late bedtime.
4. Cut Back on Caffeine
While you might think that drinking more coffee will help you gain the energy you need to get through the day, it can also raise your anxiety levels and even cause a panic attack. This will make you feel more stressed out and can make it more difficult to cope with daily stress that inevitably crops up. Too much caffeine can also cause sweating, a rapid heart rate, and shakiness. Don’t cut yourself off cold turkey, because that will lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and lethargy. Instead, just cut back a little every few days until you are drinking only one or two cups per day, preferably in the morning.
5. Exercise Daily
Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety levels. Be sure to take the time for 30 minutes of exercise most days. You can get your activity in all at once or in 10-minute increments; the most important thing is that you get your heart rate up. Take an aerobics class, go for a walk or a jog, ride a stationary bicycle while watching television, or dance in the kitchen while you cook dinner. Whatever it is, movement and activity can help you cope with daily stress.
6. Get Organized
Much like having a routine can help you minimize stress by taking decisions out of the game, getting your home, workspace, and life organized can reduce your stress by eliminating some frustration. If you find yourself frequently forgetting appointments, misplacing important papers, and running late for appointments, you might need to try a new organization system. There are many methods for getting organized; KonMari and Flylady are popular and effective. Or maybe you have a different system in mind. Whatever it is, spend a bit of time each week working on improving your overall organization.
7. Take Some Time for Yourself
When you are stressed out, it’s easy to put yourself last and focus on everything else you have to do first. This is akin to putting on a child’s oxygen mask before your own on an airplane, however; you need to take care of yourself first if you want to be able to focus on other priorities. Try to find time each day to spend at least 15 or 30 minutes doing something just for you. It might mean watching videos on YouTube, taking a bath, or just sitting and relaxing on the porch with a book or a favorite soundtrack.
8. Try Breathing Exercises
You’ve heard the advice to take a deep breath and count to ten, and this is not far from what you might need if you’re finding yourself perpetually stressed out. Spend a minute or two just breathing. Find a quiet area where you can sit down and close your eyes. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth, then repeat. You can also try diaphragmatic breathing.
9. See a Professional
If you are feeling very stressed and you can’t relieve your anxiety, it is time to talk to a professional. Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health counselor to learn how you can start feeling better. You shouldn’t have to suffer from the feeling of being consumed by daily stress, so seek treatment and begin enjoying your days once again.
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.