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How building up these 5 habits can reduce the stress in your life

Life can feel really overwhelming some days. We can't control everything in our environments and that can feel extremely stressful when things start to go wrong and it feels like everything is suddenly snowballing. 

We can't control everything, but some things we can control. There are plenty of aspects of our day that we can organise and anticipate - if we make a habit of doing so. And if it sounds simple, it's because generally it is - if you're disciplined and motivated to make real changes in your life. Even trying out one or two of these things can make a hige difference to our day to day life. No one is superhuman - there are going to be things that go wrong regardless. But trying out a few of these can make it feel less overwhelming when it does. 

De-clutter

Concentrated woman carrying stack of cardboard boxes for relocation

Our homes are supposed to be places of rest and relaxation, but that's hard to do when your wardrobe, kitchen cupboards and side tables are bursting open at the seams and the overflowing. A cluttered space means a cluttered head, so it's important that everywhere has its own place. Especially now, when for many of us, our homes have also become our work places. Having somewhere to put away the struggles and mess of the day is essential to keep a clear frame of mind.

Your fridge, your wardrobe, your phone, your paperwork. Figure out filing systems, throw useless things away. Maybe you did a big clear out during lockdown – and that’s great! But until the things left behind are organised in a clear and sensible way, you’re still not optimally set up to take on life. Figure out a filing system, a storage solution or an organisation hack that makes sense for you and your life.

When we can’t find things we waste valuable time and energy running around trying to get everything together, making us late and unnecessarily stressed. It’s easier said than done, but having a place for everything makes such a difference – even if it goes missing it can’t go far. And you’ll save time instead of rifling through every coat pocket and bag trying to find your keys.

Prioritise your health

Photo of Woman Doing Yoga

Physical, nutritional, mental. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of each day, with its list of jobs and demands to tick off and make our way through, but no job, commitment or household task is ever worth compromising our health.

Making time in our day – whether that’s a twenty minute yoga session early in the morning, a run after work or a meditation before bed – is essential to creating this habit. It should be as essential as brushing your teeth or making your bed – an automatic part of your day.

Similarly, good, nutritious food should be our default. Life becomes less stressful when we feel good inside and out and a healthy, balanced diet – with the occasional takeaway – and a committed exercise and mental wellbeing routine are the key. Make it something to look forward to by finding an exercise class you like, trying out new recipes and finding a meditation that really work for you.

Prepare

Notebook

It sounds simple because largely it is. It's just a question of motivation. Five minutes in the evening before bed: In that time you can set the breakfast table for the next morning, pack your bag so it’s good to go, and maybe even plan your outfit for the next day. Set yourself up for success and ease your own path through life. Don’t spend every minute of every day trying to keep ahead of yourself, because we need down time too, but see little hacks and shortcuts along the way that your future self will thank you for.

On Sunday evenings, instead of giving in to the Sunday scaries, do some meal prep, finish off your laundry, make a list of priorities for the week. It will clear your head a little, make your schedule seem less overwhelming and set you up well for the week ahead of you, making everything seem a bit less daunting.

Set boundaries

Photo of Women Talking While Sitting

If you don’t have time for something or the headspace for someone else’s venting – let them know!

I know, it feels awkward and rude to say it, but it’s all about how you communicate them. Someone who respects and cares for you will respect your boundaries.

Personal boundaries are the limits we set in our relationships. They are the lines we won’t let others cross, the set of personal rules that should not be broken in order to protect ourselves and our mental health. Having personal boundaries is the ability to say no to something that others may ask or want from you and will depend on what you value. If your personal time is important to you, then you set limits between your work life and home life. If your privacy is important, you may keep your personal and work life separate.

Knowing your boundaries is important to be able to engage with people in a calm clear way. Approaching the situation as a difference in values, rather than an argument or inconvenience is helpful to prevent it becoming an argument. Having boundaries is actually good for your relationships. Being too available to that friend who constantly needs to unload on you can lead to resentment on your side. Knowing what you want to say going into this conversation can be hugely helpful. Gathering your thoughts will help you think more clearly about what you want to achieve with the conversations and ways that you can bring it up neutrally and calmly.

Be intentional with your time

Gray Double-bell Clock

Another one that forces us to confront our habits, timekeeping is an important skill to have. It’s also extremely important to protect your down time, however, as rest and mindless activities are important for our brain to recover also.

But allowing ourselves to lose hours to social media, poorly organised tasks or procrastination is a harmful habit that causes us to put things off until they become huge stressors. If a mammoth task is looming ahead of you that you’re tempted to forget about in favour of Netflix, force yourself to sit down, break it down to smaller tasks and set time limits for when each one should be achieved by.

This is a great hack for people who thrive under pressure and like to work to deadlines, Being able to tick each item off the list as you go brings a sense of achievement and drive to keep moving forward through the list rather than allowing ourselves to be distracted, ultimately leading to less stress later on down the line!

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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