[Guest blog by Vee Cecil]
The frantic pace of day-to-day life, juggling work and home life, and managing ever-growing to-do lists are problems faced by many. Throw in relationships – disagreements with your spouse, parenting children, and dealing with friends and co-workers, and it’s no surprise that most of us spend a good deal of time stressed out about one thing or another. As we head into a new year, here are a few good habits to adopt to reduce the stress in your daily life throughout 2016.
Get Enough Sleep: Both Quantity and Quality are Important
This is a tip that’s been said time and time again, but the importance of getting adequate rest simply can’t be overstated. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be less productive and more susceptible to feeling stress throughout the day. On the other hand, being stressed out can actually lead to insomnia in some people, making the challenge of getting enough sleep both a cause and an effect of stress.
The ideal target is between seven and eight hours of sleep each night, but don’t overlook the benefits of power napping if a full night’s rest is off the table. Just 20 minutes of rest in the afternoon can give you the boost you need to get through the day.
Aim to Drink One Gallon of Water Each Day
Your body is comprised of approximately 60 percent water. Many people are dehydrated and don’t realize it, leading to feelings of fatigue and exhaustion, which contribute to stress. Fill up a gallon jug with fresh water every morning and aim to drink the full gallon each day, throughout the day. According to Authority Nutrition, even mild dehydration, or between one and three percent fluid loss, can “impair energy levels and mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.”
Get More Organized by Using To-Do Lists
If you’re a natural list-maker, you may have ten different to-do lists going at any given time. Or you may be the sticky-note type, preferring instead to jot down important items to remember on a sticky note and affix it to whatever surface happens to be in the vicinity. Whether you don’t currently make lists at all or have multiple lists going at once, you can reduce stress by taking a more organized approach to list-making and tackling projects.
Keep one central list, organize it by category (work tasks, family chores, etc.) and then rank items by priority. Tackle the most important or biggest projects first, and focus your full attention on one task at a time.
Create an Energizing, Mood-Boosting Music Playlist to Start Your Day
Starting each day with your favorite mood-boosting tunes can get you out the door with a much more positive outlook. I have an awesome go-to ‘80s playlist in my iTunes that I always turn on when my spirits need lifting. I’ll even admit that sometimes I throw on accessories from last Halloween’s ‘80s rock star costume and have my own personal dance party in my home office. The dress up and dance moves are silly, but letting loose like that always makes me feel better. If you encounter stressful situations during the day, take a few minutes to recharge and listen to your favorite music, try meditating with music, get moving and dance for a few minutes, or just sit back and enjoy.
Cut the Caffeine and Consume a Healthy Diet
Caffeine can actually contribute to feelings of stress, so cutting down on caffeine consumption is one way to beat stress in the coming year. But a healthy, balanced diet is also important for ensuring that your body has the right amount of vitamins and minerals to function at its best.
It starts with a balanced breakfast, which can keep your blood sugar levels stable to avoid fatigue and urges to overeat later in the day. There are also a variety of foods which can boost immunity and help lower stress, such as carrots, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, eggs, broccoli, seeds and nuts, and other foods shown to have high levels of important vitamins and nutrients.
Learn to Say No to Commitments That Aren’t Beneficial to You
Many people tend to over-book their schedules simply because they feel guilty about turning someone down. Learning to say no to the things that are not beneficial to you or that you truly don’t have time for will help you simplify your schedule and reduce the stress that comes with being always on the go, rushing to make meetings and events in time and trying to fit too much in. Aim to schedule a few important things each day, and leave enough room in between commitments that you have time to reflect and recharge.
Vee Cecil is a personal trainer and wellness coach who is passionate about all things health-related. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children. She enjoys sharing her knowledge about health and wellness on her blog.