Stress Less All Day Long: 8 Tips To Live By
Written by: Melissa Fiorenza
From the moment we wake up to the second we fall asleep, any number of situations can cause stress and throw us off our game. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay cool, collected, and stress-free all day—no matter what curveballs are tossed your way? It’s possible! But like with anything worth having, you’ve got to work for it. Heed these suggestions from the pros to live a life less hectic, 24/7.
1. First thing in the morning, breathe.
As soon as you wake up for the day, be intentional about those first few moments. “Breathe deeply before you get out of bed and focus on some gratitude,” says Dr. Kate Dow, psychologist and empowerment coach. “This sets the body, mind, and immune system in a good pattern.” You could even set an intention for the day, and remember what it was when things start to get crazy.
2. Next up, eat.
“Starting with a hearty but comforting breakfast can tamp down any dread or anxiety about the day ahead,” says Karen Azeez, health coach, self-care expert, and author of the upcoming book, The Kindfulness Solution. Try one with healthy carb-filled stress-busters like oatmeal, she suggests. “Add some protein in the form of nuts or nut butter to prevent you from feeling hangry or jittery by mid-morning.”
3. Make a realistic list.
If you don’t already keep an active and maintained to-do list, organized by priority and with estimates of how much time each item will take, now’s the time to start. Look at your list and determine only what must be done that day, and put that item on your calendar, recommends Mandie Brice, a life balance expert. “This way, there aren't one million ‘OMG, I need to do ___ and ___’ thoughts floating around in our minds,” she says. “And if we accomplish what must be done, and some extras, we will feel the accomplishment as opposed to the stress!”
4. Leave early for all appointments/meetings/travel.
Have to be at daycare pick-up by 6pm, or your hair appointment at 3? Leave early. “When you are racing to your next destination you are in a heightened level of stress that can be avoided,” explains Kaytlyn Sanders, self-care coach at Beneficial Habits. “Try doubling all your travel times, even if it’s a five-minute walk in the office to the next meeting room. It also gives you the mental space to think a bit before arriving at your destination which may make the meeting or appointment more productive instead of worrying about watching the clock.”
5. Drink your H20.
Not getting enough water during the day? Follow this easy tip from Suzanne Falter, an author and speaker on the topics of joy, peace, and balance: “Keep a quart mason jar in your desk, and drink a jar of water in the morning, and another in the afternoon—or use a quart sized water bottle. Being even half a quart dehydrated increases your stress hormone, cortisol.”
6. Give yourself breaks throughout the day.
Even if it’s just for a few minutes, says Nicole Lambert of Movement Counseling Services in Rochester, NY. “This is a perfect time to practice some deep breathing to help recenter yourself, refocus, and to decrease your heart rate.” If deep breathing doesn’t do the trick, Lambert says to take a mini mental vacation and imagine yourself in your happy place. “This could be the beach, your favorite store, a yoga class, or a place that you used to love to visit as a child. Take a few minutes and envision yourself there and allow space for positive emotions that arise.”
7. Get up!
It’s really easy to spend an entire day at the office without stepping foot into the sunlight, or even stepping up from your desk, period. “In the afternoon, it’s helpful to get up and move around, go for a walk outside, stretch in your office—something to get your body moving a your blood flowing,” advises Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a Texas-based professional counselor.
8. No screens in the bedroom.
“Our brains not only need to be away from blue light in the evenings for our circadian rhythm to kick in, but viewing the news or social media can keep you awake with worry,” says Sanders. Reading a fictional book in bed will be easier to set down, start to make your eyes droop, and disconnect you from your constant worries in life she says. Need a book suggestion? “Sometimes a self-help book or a subject you are learning will embed deeper into your mind if you read it right before bed and easier to recall and put into use the next day.”