What happened to the “lazy days of summer?” I don’t know about you, but for me, my stress level does not dip during the summer season. Here are some quickie reminders on how to make your life a little less stressful. Even if you only pluck a single nugget from the list below – you’ll be better off!
1. Get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
2. Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table. Make lunches. Put out the clothes you plan to wear, etc.
3. Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up the laundry, when library books are due, etc. (“The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”- Old Chinese Proverb)
4. Do nothing you have to lie about later.
5. Make copies of all keys. Bury a house key in a secret spot in the garden. Carry a duplicate car key in your wallet, apart from your key ring.
6. Practice preventive maintenance. Your car, appliances, home and relationships will be less likely to break down “at the worst possible moment.”
7. Be prepared to wait. A paperback book can make a wait in a post office line almost pleasant.
8. Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
9. Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one quarter full, keep a well- stocked “emergency shelf” of home staples, don’t wait until you’re down to your last bus token or postage stamp to buy more, etc.
10. Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If your alarm clock wallet, shoe laces, windshield wipers-whatever-are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
11. Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Plan to arrive at an airport one hour before domestic departures.
12. Eliminate (or restrict) the amount of caffeine in your diet.
13. Always set up contingency plans, “just in case.” (“If for some reason either of us is delayed, here’s what we’ll do…” Or, “If we get split up in the shopping center, here’s where we’ll meet.”)
14. Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass doesn’t get mowed this weekend.
15. Pollyanna-Power! For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings. Count ’em!
16. Ask questions. Taking a few moments to repeat back the directions that someone expects of you, etc., can save hours. (The old “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” idea.)
17. Say “No!” Saying no to extra projects, social activities and invitations you know you don’t have the time or energy for takes practice, self-respect and a belief that everyone, everyday, needs quiet time to relax and to be alone.
18. Unplug your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect.
(The possibility of there being a terrible emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil.)
19. Turn “needs” into preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water, and keeping warm. Everything else is a preference. Don’t get attached to preferences.
20. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
21. Make friends with non worriers. Chronic worry warts are contagious.
22. Take many stretch breaks when you sit a lot; utilize stress balls at your desk.
23. If you can’t find quiet at home, wear ear plugs.
24. Get enough sleep. Set your alarm for bedtime.
25. Organize! A place for everything and everything in its place. Losing things is stressful.
26. Monitor your body for stress signs. If your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax your muscles and take some deep, slow breaths.
27. Write your thoughts and feelings down on paper. It can help you clarify and give you a renewed perspective.
28. Do this yoga exercise when you need to relax: Inhale through your nose to the count of eight. Pucker your lips and exhale slowly to the count of 16. Concentrate on the long sighing sound and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.
29. Visualize success before any experience you fear. Take time to go over every part of the event in your mind. Imagine how great you will look, and how well you will present yourself.
30. If the stress of deadlines gets in the way of doing a job, use diversion. Take your mind off the task and you will focus better when you’re on task.
31. Talk out your problems with a friend. It helps to relieve confusion.
32. Avoid people and places that don’t fit your personal needs and desires. If you hate politics, don’t spend time with politically excited people.
33. Learn to live one day at a time.
34. Everyday, do something you really enjoy.
35. Add an ounce of love to everything you do.
36. Take a bath or shower to relieve tension.
37. Do a favor for someone every day.
38. Focus on understanding rather than on being under stood, on loving rather than on being loved.
39. Looking good makes you feel better.
40. Take more time between tasks to relax. Schedule a realistic day.
41. Be flexible. Some things are not worth perfection.
42. Stop negative self-talk: “I’m too fat, too old, etc…”
43. Change pace on weekends. If your week was slow, be active. If you felt nothing was accomplished during the week, do a weekend project.
44. “Worry about the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Pay attention to the details in front of you.
45. Do one thing at a time. When you are working on one thing, don’t think about everything else you have to do.
46. Allow time every day for privacy, quiet and thinking.
47. Do unpleasant tasks early and enjoy the rest of the day.
48. Delegate responsibility to capable people.
49. Take lunch breaks. Get away from your work in body and in mind.
50. Count to 1,000, not 10, before you say something that could make matters worse.
Courtesy of the American Lung Association