3 Things You Can do Now to De-Stress

Photo Credit: Stellar Propeller Studio

With so many things, dreams, responsibilities, needs, and people clamoring for our time and energy, stress seems to live just around the corner. If you add one more thing to your overflowing to-do list you just might explode. I totally get it. As a dreamer, a doer, and a people lover – I can easily find myself on the corner of “overwhelmed” and “I’m totally going to cry.” Yes, there are things to get done and places to go but we do not need to live in this constant state of stress. These three things are something you can do right now to take some of that weight off your shoulders.

I know, you only want to cross it off until it is completed but I want you to cross it all off until only three things remain. Better yet, throw away your list and start a new one – only write down the three most important things you would like accomplished today. Those things may be as simple as take a shower, meet a friend for coffee, and make dinner. Sometimes they may be more business focused – write a blog post, edit photos, and answer 10 emails.

Sometimes we fill our lists with unneeded things. We know everything that needs to get done sometime (or at least we think needs to get done) and so we write it all down and we are overcome with stress. We throw up our hands saying there is not enough time in the day and we react. Somethings can really wait until tomorrow, somethings really don’t need to get done, and somethings can even be delegated (hint: you don’t have to do it all.)

When I find myself on the tipping point of tears, snapping, and general unpleasantness due to my stress levels I have to physically walk away. Shut things down, put things away, and move somewhere else. Do something that energizes you (and something not on your list) – go on a walk, take a nap, read a book for fun, sit on your porch with a glass of tea, write in your journal, take a shower, etc. When you step away from the problem and the stress you have a chance to refocus and remember what is really important. I know you still have things that need to get done but set a 30 minute timer and do something completely unrelated and fun. Take a break. You will come back to your work with a new outlook and fresh focus. We need breaks, we need rest, we need fresh air – it really does help your efficiency…. or you can just try to push through it, mindlessly brows social media (which will make you feel like you need to add more to that list), and see how that goes for you.

Try to look at your day or your to-do list with new eyes. Look for the blessings, the things you can be thankful for. Make a new list of the joys in your life. Find something funny to laugh at or call a friend (the easy friend to talk to, not the hard one) and just laugh together. Laughing is proven to help melt those stress bubbles away.

Most of the time my stressful to-do list is filled with things that need to get done but also things I feel like I need to be. Clean the house (to look perfect to my guests), make the best dinner ever (to prove that I am the best wife ever), send a thoughtful card to everyone I know to encourage them and make their day (to be the best friend and the one who cares so well for others.) These things are all good but they are unrealistic because none of us are (or can be) perfect! They are things on our list that we can’t actually accomplish and will just leave us feeling guilty or failures. Give yourself grace and allow your friends to see your imperfect home. Make a quick meal or order out – sometimes other things are more important than spending hours making a gourmet dinner. Write one note and mail it. Let yourself be yourself and be okay with who you are.

Next time you feel like you are on the brink of stress, try these three things and let me know how it goes! What are some things that you do to de-stress? Please share below in the comments – we can all learn from each other and learn to let go of the insane amount of pressure we put on ourselves. 

Author: Elizabeth Mayberry

  • I’ve started getting up earlier than I ever have before in my life and giving myself 2 hours at the beginning of the day to wake up with the sun and do whatever my little heart desires. Usually it’s catching up on reading blog posts and listening to my current favorite podcast (Being Boss), but sometimes it’s cook or play with my cat or read a book. It’s amazing how when I take the time to center myself and calmly walk into the day how it’s been helping the way I view my to do list. Even if my to do list is really long, if I give myself those precious couple of hours then I always feel more like I can handle it or more rational when I can’t. Love your suggestions! 🙂

    • YES! Getting up early makes my days so much nicer and calmer. I love having a couple hours to just enjoy life before I have to rush off to work.

      • Yes!

      • I love that! It is so true that the way we start the day, sets everything else off in motion!

    • What a fun tradition. I’ve been really noticing a need for some consistency like that. I don’t know If I could do two hours before work (5 am seems painfully early) but I do know I need to work in some me, peace time before my day rushes off!

      • I get up at 5:45. It was painful but now it’s glorious. I hope you find a time that works for you!

  • I love a good list 🙂 It really does keep the stress down. I also think that having a fun planner to write it in makes it even better!

  • I needed this today! A couple weeks ago my car broke down due to a mistake the oil place made. They have been fighting it, so it’s been 2+ weeks of not having a car, which added to the stress of my job situation and a few other things going on. One night when I was feeling particularly down and discouraged. I decided to take time to write down the blessings in my life instead of focusing on the negative. It made a huge difference and I’ve been choosing to focus on those things on a daily basis. Being grateful really does change your perspective!

    • I am so glad that the timing was right for you! It does change so much and sometimes we just need to force that time to dwell on something different!

  • List making is my “brain dump” when I am feeling overwhelmed. BUt I have my crazy long to-do list that includes stuff that can get done eventually and another list of MUST do’s that I need to accomplish. 🙂

    Baking cookies is also therapeutic. I love it.

    • I am a brain dumper too! And then I make a new list that is practical! hahah. Cookie making – always a great break!

  • Such great tips, Elizabeth! I think I needed to hear some of these today! Breaks are so good for the mind and the soul. I loved what you said about needing to “be” something in addition to a “to-do.” I think that is so true and I see it in my own life as well. Lately, I’ve been trying to cut out things that don’t necessarily need to be on my to-do list or in my life and focusing on the more important. It’s good to cross things off, as our schedules don’t rule us!

    • Gina, I am so glad you stopped by and were encouraged! I’ve been trying to focus more on the being than the doing too. Praying for you today sweet friend – for rest and productivity and less stress!

  • These are so great, Beth! And that picture of you is adorable! Giving myself grace has been huge for me. I make lots of list, but for each day I pick a few to work on and it helps a lot. 🙂

  • Ms. PeonyAndGrahams

    Such a great reminder to actually focus on de-stressing! I have been trying to simplify my life as much as possible to make more time for things I enjoy and help reduce stress. These are the principles I have been trying to follow: http://www.peonyandgrahams.com/2015/08/the-simple-chic-life-principle.html