How To Jettison The Stress in Your Life

Are you feeling tense and edgy on a regular basis? Deep breathing exercises and aromatherapy might help you feel better for a bit, but unless you identify the root causes of your stress, not much will change. Fortunately, small life changes can add up to a big difference in your overall stress level.

Adjust Your Work Environment

Poor lighting, poor temperature regulation, poor noise control: All of these can contribute to a stressful work environment. Unpleasant coworkers and unclear expectations also add stress to your job. Fortunately, adjusting your work environment may serve to cut down on your overall stress level.

  • Bringing a touch of nature, such a green plant, into your office has been shown to reduce workplace stress.

  • Is a total environmental overhaul needed? The American Psychological Association suggests partnering with your labor or employee organization to enact major change in your workplace.

  • Working from home may be a viable alternative that can both raise your productivity and lower your stress.

  • If all else fails, consider searching for a new job.

For more advice on dealing with workplace stress, take the Do You Know How to Cope with Job Stress? quiz.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Do you feel like you’re always squeaking by at the last minute? Poor time management skills increase your stress level. To compound the problem, the more stressed you are, the more rushed you’ll feel, making it even harder to manage your time well.

The key to improving your time management may be as simple as keeping close at hand a visual reminder of what you need to do when. Try hanging a calendar on your wall or installing a planner app on your phone. However, since those tools will only help as long as you use them, take the time to find a system that works for you. Additionally, the Time Management Skills Test will help you identify your time management weaknesses and find ways to improve in those areas. As you streamline your life, your stress level should decrease.

Along the lines of time management, limiting the amount of time you spend online can help you feel more relaxed. A 2013 study found that as social media use increases, life satisfaction decreases. By reducing your Twitter time, not only will you lower your stress level, but you’ll also have more time for other things that need to get done.

Cut the Clutter

Clutter leads to disorganization, and disorganization leads to stress. A research project from UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families observed that when excess possessions accumulate around the home, they serve as a visual reminder of just how much there is to get done. Researchers noted that this stress particularly affects women.

To reduce the amount of clutter in your home, the University of Illinois Extension recommends the following tips:

  • Sort your possessions into piles. Make a pile of things you plan to keep, one of items to pitch and one of things to sell or donate. You can also make a temporary pile of items whose status you can’t decide, but continue to go through it until you determine what to do with each one.

  • For items you are keeping, store them near the spot where they are used.

  • Keep your home tidy by cleaning in short stretches—five to 15 minutes each—throughout the day.

  • Establish a gathering spot for items you plan to sell or donate. Put items in the bin as soon as you come across them.