The new year is a time many of us try to make changes in our lives. The idea of a clean slate gives us a chance to form new habits or get rid of bad ones. Most resolutions are to eat better, exercise more, lose weight, or spend less money. Managing stress isn’t usually a priority — but it should be! Stress can negatively contribute to weight gain, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, overeating, and overspending. Not to mention a variety of other health issues.
In an effort to help limit the stress in your life, here are some tips to consider for the coming year. And remember, even incorporating a few of these habits into your life can greatly diminish your stress levels.
Just Say No
The people pleasers have the hardest time with this advice. While it’s great to be an accommodating friend, co-worker, parent, or spouse, there is only so much of your time you can give. Saying yes can even be an automatic response for some people! Try limiting how much of your time you casually give away. You’ll probably be surprised at how much better you feel.
It’s not easy to start saying no immediately, so try saying no to every other request. By not overextending yourself, you are in fact managing stress in your life.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
After a rough day, it’s easy to turn to a glass of wine or a beer to help you relax. But for some people, it can be a slippery slope. One glass of wine can turn into four, or your beer habit can turn into a daily routine. Many people turn to drugs as a form of relaxation, and this is equally dangerous. Using substances to deal with stress can only mask the problem, and it can ultimately lead to addiction.
Movement is a great way to lower stress levels. Even just a short walk once a day can greatly impact the effects of stress. If you already exercise regularly, consider branching out and trying something different. If you don’t have a regular routine, try adding in a daily walk, yoga, a dance class, swimming, or even biking. Physical activity has a meditative effect that allows us to focus on our bodies and distracts us from the chaos of everyday life, not to mention that exercise prompts the release of endorphins in the body, which in turn have a calming and stress-relieving effect.
Time for Yourself
Exercise is one way to take time for yourself, but so is sitting down to read a book, finish a magazine, or even taking a nap. “Me” time is effective in relieving stress because you are able to focus on something you want to do for yourself that makes you happy. It can be a way to pamper yourself, like a massage, or giving yourself permission to just do nothing. Time for yourself is a great tonic when it comes to managing stress.
Delegate or Outsource
It’s not easy being Superwoman or Superman. There will never be enough hours in the day to get everything done, so sometimes your best option, if you can afford it, is to outsource. For example, you might find someone to help with your house cleaning, dog walking, or grocery shopping so that you can focus on creating that new website for your small business or update your resume and LinkedIn profile to go after that new job. Alternatively, delegate some of the more tedious household chores, like folding laundry, vacuuming, or emptying the dishwasher, to your children. The extra help will add up to extra time for you, and one or two fewer things to stress over.
Many people are turned off by the thought of meditating, and most of us consider the classic stereotype whenever we think of meditation. Though it may seem impossible for some, meditation is an easy act that you can incorporporate into your life, and when practiced daily can lead to long-term mental health and well-being.
Research says it takes at least three weeks to form a habit. If you can add just one of these tips into your routine every day for three weeks, you are bound to notice a difference in your stress levels. Over time this will equate to better relationships at home and work, better mental and physical health, and an overall better you.
Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives, and when she can, devotes some of her free time on http://juliemorris.org.