Our lives are full of stress.  While the holidays can really exacerbate stress levels, it’s a constant presence for many people all through the year.  That stress can lead to a variety of different health issues ranging from high blood pressure to obesity to insomnia.  The effects can be felt in your body, your mood and  even your behavior.

Before looking at ways to stress less, lets look at some of the common ways that stress can manifest itself.

Effects of stress on your body

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension/pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach issues
  • Insomnia or restless sleep
  • Weight gain

Effects of stress on your mood

  • Irritability
  • Sadness/depression
  • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus or motivation

Effects of stress on your behavior

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Withdrawing from regular activities you enjoy
  • Anger

Although stress is a normal part of life and cannot be completely avoided, it is possible to manage it better.  These tips have helped me manage how I deal with stress in my own life.

Declutter

I view my home as my sanctuary – the place I go to get away from the rest of the world.  While there is sometimes chaos with an active family, bills to pay, and dinner and laundry to be done, looking forward to being home should always be a relaxing and stress-relieving thought.

Having a clean and uncluttered home is one way to reduce stress.  Over the years we tend to accumulate a lot of items that we either don’t need or don’t use.   Getting rid of these items helps simplify your life and reduce stress.  A more minimalist approach to owning a lot of household items allows you to have less to clean, step over, or have stuffed into a closet.  With fewer items, it’s easier to keep things organized and in order.

Schedule Downtime

Not every minute of every day needs to be scheduled.  Having time to rest and do nothing allows our mind and body to recharge.  Scheduling a period of downtime each day – even a short period – can help reduce the effects of stress.  Take a few minutes to meditate, read, exercise, or watch television.  Even 15 – 20 minutes of doing an activity that you enjoy can reduce stress and help you regain your energy and focus.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

It can be easy to look at someone else’s life and think it is so much better than your own.  Even though it appears that way, it is often not the case.  Other people may have more money, a bigger house, a newer car or whatever.  But that doesn’t mean their life is as perfect as it seems.  Perhaps they are loaded with debt, in an unhappy marriage or struggling in some other way.  Comparing your life to how another’s life appears can cause unneeded stress.  Live your own life and don’t worry about how you stack up against other people.  In short – don’t let comparison steal your joy.

Find Your Inspiration

Each of us finds inspiration in different ways so it is important to find what uplifts your spirit.  That may be writing in a gratitude journal, subscribing to a daily motivational email or compiling a collection of motivational quotes.  Some people find inspiration by walking in nature or chatting with a friend.

Don’t Procrastinate

Most of us have experienced the stress of waiting until the last minute to get something done.  And usually that doesn’t end up being our best work.  Working to manage your time, set realistic goals and not waiting until the last minute can help alleviate the stress of a deadline.  Procrastinating can have disastrous effects on your stress level so it’s always a good idea to do things as soon as possible.  If you end up finishing early, that gives you time to enjoy doing something else as well as a feeling of accomplishment.  And that feeling of accomplishment is far more satisfying than stress!

What is your best advice for dealing with stress?  Do you find that you manage it well or could use some improvement?

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