by Michelle Manningham
When people talk about managing stress it seems laughable. Is stress actually manageable? With family, careers, fitness, and trying to squeeze in some life balance it can seem that stress just becomes something we learn to live with verses learning to manage.
Here are 5 ways you can manage your stress in the new year.
1. Remove Pain Points
You know in an instant if your stress in 2016 was overwhelming or if you did a good job of creating space in your life. It is important to identify what took most of your energy in this last year. The life and energy suckers need to be removed. It could be the job that you really hate but you tolerate because you need the paycheck. It could be the friend of yours who sucks the life right out of you with her constant drama. It could be the family member who is always stirring up trouble or your co-workers who are constantly creating problems. Identifying your pain points doesn’t mean you never visit your in-laws, but what it does mean is that you identify what took energy from you this last year and what energized you. Until you limit the time and energy invested in those areas that stole your productive energy, you will circle around another year with that same lack of motivation. Once limits are set and lived by, you will find a new level of strength and energy flowing through you. Identify what worked and what didn’t in the last year and make a decision to only bring into 2017 what is going to energize you, not hold you back.
2. Make your calendar your BFF
So many waste mental energy trying to keep to-do lists, ideas for dinner, what they need to pick up at the grocery store, what you’re getting grandma for Christmas, did you put a pickle in little Johnny’s lunch box, etc. These thoughts roll around in our minds simultaneously, and this causes us to rarely be fully present in the moment. We are constantly running lists through our head and at the end of the day we are mentally drained and cannot point out why. Putting your thoughts on paper will change your life. Every night before I go to bed I sit down with my calendar and make sure I know everything I need to get done the following day. I even write down what time I am waking up in the morning. Yes, I am that person. I put down every action item, whether it is work or family related and I map out my exact schedule for the day. People call me crazy, but I assure you I can run circles around those who refuse to plan. I walk into the office every day and all I have to do is execute my plan instead of wondering where I left off the day before. Benjamin Franklin was right: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” Invest in a calendar, live by your calendar and change your life.
3. Create Room
It is vital that you take care of yourself. We read things like this all the time and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it is important to schedule these times in your calendar. We love those around us by the overflow of what is in our hearts, and so many of us have allowed ourselves to run on empty – we have nothing left to give (time, energy, support). Schedule out (in your new 2017 calendar) an evening of investment in your well being once a week – at the very least. If you cannot squeeze in an entire evening, work in a bubble bath and champagne or a time to sit by the fireplace and read. In my single life I call these date nights, and I assure you I spoil myself. I wake up the next day rejuvenated, relaxed and energized. There is nothing to be praised about a person who runs themselves on empty all the time. The world deserves the best version of you, not a depleted you.
4. Work it
One of the best, and least expensive forms of stress management is making fitness a part of your daily routine. Exercising has many lasting effects on your health, but one of the main ones is that it reduces stress. Making fitness apart of your daily routine has proven to help fight off feelings of anxiety and depression. Those days we jumpstart with exercise we feel energized the whole day, compared to those days we sleep in the extra hour. Fitness doesn’t just happen, it is planned. In my calendar I mark down the exact time I am going to exercise and what exercises I am going to complete. Remember how you feel on the days you don’t exercise and use that as motivation to get up the next day and make it happen. You will thank yourself later in the day.
5. Clear the Clutter
Many of us live in chaotic environments. Our homes our filled with so much clutter it literally drains us of energy. And there are those who have allowed the clutter to get so out of control that just the thought of starting to clean sends them into stress overload because they know it would take the crew of the show “Flip or Flop” to clear the mess you have created out of your home. It is important to clear the clutter in your life. Clearing out the mess allows your mind room to breath and you can tap into your inner creativity. You think it doesn’t affect you until you do a deep cleaning and lay your head down at night and feel complete peace. Start with one room a week. Walk in with a giant trash bag and just start removing every object that is no longer serving a purpose in your life. Everything needs to have a place or it does not belong. Clearing out the clutter not only cleans your house, but clears your mind and heart.
Stress is actually manageable. But the key is that you have to actively manage it! Give my suggestions a shot! You may find that taking a few simple steps can lead to a happier, healthier, less stressed life.