“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Sydney J. Harris
Keeping the stress away from your life isn't just about the big things and decisions.
It is also about the small things. About what you do and do not do from day to day.
Those small daily – helpful or unhelpful – habits add up very quickly over the weeks and can be the difference between being focused and feeling good about life or not being able to sleep or work properly and enjoy your life as much as you could.
In this article I’d like to share 10 small habits that have had a huge positive effect in my life and that protects me from both the stress out there in the world and the stress I can cause myself.
1. One thing at a time.
It is often tempting to multi-task to get things done quicker. But every time I feel that impulse I remind myself that in the past I have actually gotten better results, been able to focus more sharply and had less stress in my mind and body when I single-tasked.
And so I continue to do one thing at a time.
2. Just write it all down.
Trying to remember every idea, meeting and so on is not the best use of your mind.
And if your memory is anything like mine then you may lose many ideas if they are not captured pretty quickly. So just write all of your good or great ideas, insights and thoughts down to keep them safe and to unload your mind.
3. Don’t guess. Ask.
Trying to read minds usually don’t go so well at all. So instead, just communicate and ask.
By doing so you promote openness in your relationships in the long run and that will also help you to minimize unnecessary conflicts, misunderstandings, negativity and waste or time and energy.
4. Keep everything in its place.
If everything has its place then your home and workspace will have a more calming effect and it will be less stressful to find those important papers or your keys and wallet as you are heading out to catch the next bus.
5. Set clear daily time-limits for your work.
This has been so important for me to not get lost in the very stressful grey zone and to not think about my business and this blog after my workday is done.
Three limits that I have set are:
- Breaks every hour. I usually work for about 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break when I step away from the work and do something completely different.
- Start and stop-times for work. I don’t work before 8 in the morning and I don’t work after 7 o clock in the evening.
- I don’t work weekends. I usually check emails once per weekend just to see so there is not something truly important I have to attend to. But other than that I stay away from work over the weekend and spend time with my family, friends, a good book or movie or I do some other fun activity.
6. Be 10 minutes early for meetings.
This is a very small habit but in my experience it can sure decrease the daily stress a whole lot.
For me it has transformed travel time during my day into relaxing breaks instead of passages of time and space that only up my levels of stress and other negative feelings.
7. Do email checking etc. as late in the day as possible.
I try to stay away from my inbox until the end of my workday. Doing my work this way helps me to have less distraction and to focus fully on creating new articles, newsletters and premium courses early in the day.
This may not be possible for everyone of course. But see if you can do one or two hours of uninterrupted work on your most important tasks in the morning before checking your email.
8. Pack before you go to bed.
You'll be less stressed out in the morning and you are less likely to forget something.
9. Aim to keep it very simple instead of creating drama or mountains out of molehills.
Drama, conflicts or creating mountains out of molehills can fill life with things that seem important and sometimes exciting.
But those things will also suck up much of your time and energy and create stress and friction in your life.
A few things that help me to avoid extra drama, conflicts or creating mountains are to ask myself these 3 questions when I am in a negative situation:
- Am I making a mountain out of a molehill right now?
- Will this matter in 5 years or even 5 weeks?
- How can keep things extremely simple in this situation?
10. When overcome with stress, just breathe.
When stressed, lost in a problem or the past or future in your mind breathe a little more deeply than usual and make sure you breathe with your belly. Do this for about 1-2 minutes.
It will calm your body down and bring your mind back from future worries or past mistakes and into what is happening right here in the present moment again.