Exercise is widely recognized as beneficial in reducing anxiety and improving sleep. Some sports, such as tennis and golf, combine physical exercise with social activity, which inherently is a stress reducer. Brisk walking, swimming, biking and aerobics are all effective in improving the cardiovascular system. As most people who exercise would attest, staying fit is crucial to both reducing stress and increasing one’s daily energy supply. Once you are in the habit of exercising, it is almost impossible to break.
6. Stop Worrying
As we all know, worrying accomplishes nothing. So why do we do it? For most of us, it’s simply a natural response to feeling out of control. However, if we step back and simply acknowledge that worrying will not help us, we’ll have taken the first step in regaining control. The next is to write out a clear and concise action plan to help rectify the situation. By doing so we can regain our footing emotionally and in actuality.
7. Simplifying Your Life
Is your schedule cluttered with things to do? If so, you might consider simplifying your life. Oftentimes, if we step back and examine our schedule, we can find ways to cut down on unnecessary or duplicated activities. For example, maybe you can cook several large meals at the beginning of the week (saving the leftovers for later in the week), rather than preparing a new meal every night. Another idea for simplifying one’s life is to arrange one’s timetable of running errands so as to minimize travel during peak hours.
8. Taking Up New Hobbies
Choose an activity that you really enjoy doing to beat stress. The right pastime can be so absorbing that it helps you switch off the worries, and so engrossing that it becomes refreshing as sleep. A hobby also boosts self-esteem. After a day at the office when nothing seemed to go right, you can immerse yourself in your hobby and forget the day’s events. Some people’s hobbies have even become their livelihoods. Hobbies can also provide a special time for being with family and friends. Maybe a mother and daughter share a passion for painting; a father and son enjoy studying antique cars; or two friends enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes. Whatever your passion, make a hobby of it.
9. Taking Time to Relax on a Daily Basis
It’s important to take a few minutes out of each day to relax. Maybe do some stretching, listen to soft music, read a good book, reflect on special moments in your life, or take a hot bath. The possibilities are endless. These periods of relaxation should be taken throughout the day, and only need last a few minutes.
Prayer is an essential component in reducing stress. Not only can one receive numerous graces through prayer (such as greater peace in one’s heart), but one can also come away with a greater confidence that we not alone in our struggles. God is right there with us. Nothing can be more reassuring than that.
Copyright 2001 Catholic Exchange
4. “Just Hanging Out” Days
There is nothing better for recharging flat batteries than setting aside a day for “just hanging out” with family, friends or just yourself. This is time earmarked for simply having fun, with none of the usual daily demands or pressures. Perhaps you can play a game of mud-football, go for a hike, attend a play, take a country-dancing lesson, or spend time gardening. Try not to become one of those folks who accumulates vacation days but never takes time off. Vacation is your reward for working hard.
5. Improving Dietary Habits
Although this almost goes without saying, a proper diet is vital to keeping one’s stress level at a minimum. First, healthy foods supply the body with much-needed vitamins and nutrients, thus enhancing the body’s ability to function properly. Secondly, a good diet can help a person feel “light” and full of energy rather than weighted down. Think of the last time you were on vacation or traveling on business, and you began to eat heavy, unhealthy fast foods. Chances are, you felt more sluggish and lethargic than when you were eating fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods. When this happens, one’s ability to positively tackle daily demands and activities diminishes, which in turn elevates one’s stress level.
Fortunately though, there are many ways in which we can not only alleviate stress, but also turn it into a positive attribute, a benefit. Listed below are 10 ideas to help you achieve a more stress-free life.
1. Getting Organized
Becoming more organized in your work, home and everyday life not only makes you more efficient and productive, but also frees your mind of anxiety and changes your life for the better. All of us can attest to the fact that when we can’t find things, or when our schedules seem out of control, our stress levels can hit record highs. Being organized can reduce our tension and provide us with much-needed stability. It can also give us more energy. Why spend time searching for your keys when you could be locking your door and heading out to have an enjoyable time?
2. Prioritizing Daily Activities and Errands (A, B, C)
You can reduce your stress level by dividing your daily duties and errands into three main categories. To do this, label any tasks that are both urgent and important as A tasks; important but slightly less urgent projects as B tasks; and routine, low-priority jobs as C tasks. At the end of each day, plan the next day. Intersperse your important A and B tasks with C tasks to bring variety into your day and provide relief from the constant pressures of important tasks. Let’s say your activities for tomorrow include purchasing groceries, taking one child to soccer practice and another to a doctor’s appointment. In the same day you also need to call your best friend long distance, exercise and compile the children’s photo albums. You might prioritize your schedule as follows:
1. Taking child to doctor’s appointment
2. Taking child to soccer practice
1. Stopping at the grocery store
1. Calling friend long distance
2. Putting children’s photo albums together
(Extra tip: When possible, schedule one or more important category A tasks in the morning to avoid the pressure of dwelling on them all day.)