Stress Less: Seven Simple Steps to Cut Stress

Published Monday, October 24, 2011 8:35 PM

Visit the self-help section of any bookstore and shelves and shelves of weighty books offer tips on stress busting. Does eliminating stress really require reading a book that could double as a door stop? We don't think so. In the interest of doing more with less, we offer seven simple tips for cutting stress. No heavy lifting required.

Sleep On It: This tip couldn't be simpler: get a full night of shut-eye. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Failing to get a night of solid sleep sends stress hormones flooding the body, exacerbating depression and decreasing mental performance. Having trouble catching 40-winks? Visit WebMd.com for tips on getting better sleep including avoiding alcohol and unplugging distracting lights in your room.

Refuel, Reenergize: Don't run on empty which can feed stress: refuel throughout the day with small, healthy snacks such as nuts and hummus and veggies. Keeping physical energy at an optimum level will help stave off stress and prevent stress-eating binges.

Take Breaks: Pace yourself, allowing blocks of downtime to refresh concentration and energy. Break projects into discrete portions and take breathers throughout. Bringing a fresh perspective to work can help boost productivity and keep stress at bay.

Time Off: Prevent burnout with time off from work. Add a three-day weekend to your schedule when you can and be sure to take longer vacation weeks when work allows. Burning the candle at both ends decreases productivity and increases stress so make time to recharge and refresh.

Purge: Studies show that clutter causes stress. When your home or workspace is awash in clutter, it's hard to feel Zen. Go room by room or desk drawer by drawer; identifying what is broken, unnecessary or outdated. Look at every item and ask yourself "Do I need this?" and "Does this give me pleasure?" If the answer is no, it's got to go.

Mental Space: Mental clutter clogs the mind, rendering it unable to focus and serving as a breeding ground for stress. Limit information overload: designate technology-free blocks of time each day to allow focus to flourish. Minimize needless busyness: trolling the Internet and returning every e-mail does not equal productivity. Finally, let go off unrealistic aspirations: toss those unread trade journals sitting in silent reproach. Ah, that feels better!

Ease Up: Too often we are our toughest critics, with unrealistic expectations and exacting demands. Ease up on yourself, recognizing that 90 percent is good enough and done is better than perfect. Decrease your stress by ceasing to be a source of it.

Seven simple steps: now that sounds stress free!

 

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