Practical Solutions to Reduce Daily Stress in the New Year

Briefcase

2015 is here and you’ve likely resolved to change some things in your life. Maybe you’re going to shed a few pounds or commit to a more active lifestyle. Or maybe you just want to reduce the amount of stress in your life. There are simple changes you can make to your daily routines that will help alleviate that stressed out feeling. Here, we share our favorites:

  1. Pack Your Bag the Night Before – remember when you were a kid and your parents wanted your backpack packed the night before school? They were right. It’s such an easy thing to do and can eliminate that last minute running around in the morning. Plus, you’re less likely to forget important items like your phone or computer.
  2. Reduce Desk Clutter – if your workspace is overflowing with papers, post-its and more writing utensils than you would ever need, it’s time to reorganize. Less is best. Keep on your desk only what you absolutely need in a day. The rest can be put away in drawers or bins.
  3. Chew Gum – yes, chewing gum can actually help you relax. Research suggests the act of chewing gum can reduce cortisol levels helping to alleviate stress. In one study, participants were given a multi-tasking platform that reliably induces stress and measures responses. When chewing gum, participants reported lower levels of anxiety and greater levels of alertness. Stress levels (measured by cortisol levels) were also lower in participants who chewed gum.
  4. Go to Bed Earlier – If you’re chronically stressed, you’re probably suffering from fatigue. It’s a vicious cycle, because people who are tired then don’t cope well with stressful situations. Simply going to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal can help eliminate daily stress.
  5. Take Time for Yourself – whether it’s a half hour when you first get home from work, or a day on the weekend, it’s important to carve out time for yourself to “recharge” your batteries. Today’s fast paced world is often non-stop, go, go, go. Put yourself at the top of your “to do” list and you will feel less stress.
  6. Listen to Music – there is plenty of research to suggest that listening to music can help relieve stress. It triggers biochemical stress reducers that help your body relax. In one study, college students performed an oral presentation with either Pachelbel’s Canon or no music in the background. Scientists found that the soothing violins helped reduce anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure in participants who presented with the music. So, turn up the tunes on your way to work and you might just arrive a little less stressed.
  7. Write it Down – Keeping a journal may be one way to effectively relieve stress-related symptoms due to its meditative and reflective effects. It can be helpful to get the things that are bothering you off your chest, but you should also keep track of the good things that happen. Then when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it can help put things in perspective.
  8. Take a Walk – According to recent research, taking a walk outside can actually shift your brain into a calmer state. Scientists found that walking through green spaces can put the brain into a meditative state. Walking triggers “involuntary attention” – meaning that it holds attention while also allowing for reflection. Plus, getting outside has its own stress relieving benefits and can even improve memory and attention. Even when it’s cold, researchers have found that taking a walk outside can improve memory and attention span by up to 20 percent.