Updated: Sep 2
No time, no money, too much on your plate? No worries, this post has you covered. I don't believe in life hacks, but I do believe in simplifying things. As a wellbeing coach I have created a programme for small groups of staff, specifically those who work in education, as that is also my background. In each session we look at how we can become aware of stressors, create healthy boundaries and show ourselves and others compassion.
Below are some of my top tips from this programme, to help you stress less and live more.
Here are the things I recommend that cost no money and require very little time. The only thing that is needed is the willingness to include these in your daily routines.
Stretch - your body. Roll your shoulders, lift your arms and enjoy a great big stretch of your body. This can be done pretty much anytime and anywhere, sitting, standing, in public or private. It's a brilliant way to relieve tension and rest your posture.
Look up - and around you. Lift your head up from your desk/screen/book/feet. Use your eye muscles to move and roll your eyes. Use this to bring about a change of perspective and outlook, and give your neck a break!
Sigh - it out! Yes, go ahead and let out a lovely audible sigh. Make sure you expel all the air from your lungs and let your shoulders drop at the same time. Getting rid of excess carbon dioxide is a really good way to encourage better breathing and oxygen intake.
Breathe - deep from your belly or diaphragm. Make your inhale last 3-4 counts and your exhale last 5-7 counts. Do 3 rounds and place your hand on your tummy to feel it rise and fall. Breathing this way is a clear signal to the brain to reduce stress.
Smile - the bigger the better. Moving your mouth muscles this way, even if you're not feeling particularly joyful, will still send happy hormones to your brain and make you feel good.
Dance - wherever and whenever you feel like. Choose the music to reflect your mood and throw the shapes you need to.
Shake - like Taylor Swift: shake it off, literally. This can be just your hands and arms or you can go in for a whole body jiggle!
Feel - using your hand, place it on your heart to feel the beats and create a sensation of warmth, love and comfort. This is great to combine with breathing, smiling and/or sighing.
Hug - wrap your arms around yourself, yes, really! Or rub the side of your arm - this is known to release oxytocin, which creates sensations of calm, love and relaxation.
Sing - belt out a tune, who cares what your voice is like, if you enjoy it - go for it!
These may require a bit more time and/or money - but are well worth it. Choose options that you feel most comfortable with and see them as ways of looking after your health by bringing down your stress levels.
Walk - take the time to stroll or power your way around a local park or your neighbourhood.
Listen - to your favourite sounds: music, birdsong, podcast, audiobook.
Chat - with a friend, make the time to stop and really listen and contribute. This will benefit them just as much as you.
Declutter - start small (handbag, makeup bag, drawer) and work up to bigger spaces (desk, room, attic, car). You will not only lighten your mental and physical load, but can give to others who may need what you don't use anymore.
Volunteer - offer your skills and time to a cause that is close to your heart. So many organisations are looking for helpers, and it isn't always the big commitment you may think it is.
Write - a thank you card or letter to someone who has made a difference in your life or who is going through a tough time.
Bloom - plant or buy some flowers for yourself. Watching them grow and blossom will lift your spirits and bring life to your home/garden space.
Pet - spend time with your pet or borrow someone else's - go for a walk, play and take time to appreciate the unconditional love they give.
Go - somewhere new. Bring variety to your daily routine by walking or driving a different route, visiting a different shop, stopping off at a local attraction. Seeing the world from a different perspective may change the way you think about where you live and work.
Try - something new. This could be a different coffee, recipe, hair colour, item of clothing or learning a new skill. It could be choosing a different genre of books, films, music. Remember variety can spice up your life and create excitement, which is a great antidote for stress.
These ideas will cost more time and money, but can be planned for. Consider which ones you'd like to set some time and money aside for. look dates in your calendar and ask for help and support if you need to make space for these in your life.
Eat - visit a restaurant and treat yourself to whatever you fancy. Enjoy the fact that you do not have to shop, cook or clean up.
Join - a class or group. Becoming a member of something requires more commitment than a one off experience. This may be to a gym, club or interest group. It's a great way to meet like minded people and become part of a community.
Pack - up your troubles in your old kit bag and travel somewhere. It could be an overnight stop or 2 weeks away from it all. A change is as good as a rest.
Pay - for someone to help you. This could be anything from cleaning to ironing, dog walking or delivering your shopping, home repairs to car valeting. Getting in a skilled service will save you time and money in the long run.
Seek - the advice of professionals. If you need legal advice, pay a solicitor. Money advice - an accountant or financial advisor. Emotional support - get a therapist. There are somethings in life where you need an external, objective expert to help you.\
Invest - in your relationships. May it a priority to work on your communication, finding time for those you love and again, get expert help if you need to.
Take - a break if you need to. This could be from a situation, work, a relationship. Again, seek sound advice on this and consider all your options first.
Buy - better quality items, and buy less of them. This goes for food, clothes, household goods etc. The saying buy cheap, buy twice is true for a lot of things and can create more stress in the long run.
Save - put money aside, even if its a very small amount. To know you have some savings can make a difference to your outlook on money and spending. Better still, attach a goal to your savings, and this will motivate you to keep going.
Choose - for yourself, and for the better. You always have a choice. There's a famous quote by Maya Angelou - "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
So, there you have it, 30 ways to reduce stress and live more. Think of ways you can add to this list with your own ideas - have fun with it and remember, stress is a normal, healthy passenger on our journey through life, but it doesn't have to be in the driving seat.
If you'd like to know more about my Stress Less, Live More programme please get in touch. And share this with those you know that may need it.