10 Simple Ways to Live a Less Stressful Life

Stress is a major problem for many people — a hectic, stressful job, a chaotic home life, bills to worry about and bad habits such as unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking can lead to a mountain of stress.

If your life is full of stress, there are some simple things you can do to get to a more manageable level.

Now, your life will probably never be stress-free. That’s not desirable (even if it was possible) because stress is something that challenges you and helps you grow—when it’s at a reasonable level. But when stress gets too high, it causes you to be unhappy and unhealthy.

One of the keys to success is taking a realistic, gradual approach to change. How do you do it? One change at a time. Change one habit a month and gradually, over the course of a year or two, you will find you have made long-lasting changes to many things in your life.

Not all of these tips may work for you. Each person is different. Pick and choose the ones that you feel will be effective for you, and give them a try. One at a time.

  1. One thing at a time. This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress, and you can start today. Right now. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Clear your desk of distractions. Pick something to work on. Need to write a report? Do only that. Remove distractions such as phones and email notifications while you’re working on that report. If you’re going to review email, do only that. This takes practice, and you’ll get urges to do other things. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better at it.
  2. Simplify your schedule. A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Simplify by reducing the number of commitments in your life to the essentials. Learn to say no to the rest — and slowly get out of commitments that aren’t beneficial to you. Schedule only a few important things each day, and put space between them. Leave room for down time and fun.
  3. Get moving. Do something each day to be active — walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, do yoga. It doesn’t have to be grueling to reduce stress. Just move. Have fun doing it.
  4. Develop one healthy habit this month. Other than getting active, improving your health overall will help with the stress. But do it one habit at a time. Eat fruits and veggies for snacks. Floss every day. Quit smoking. Cook a healthy dinner. Drink water instead of soda. One habit at a time.
  5. Do something calming. What do you enjoy that calms you down? For many people, it can be the “get moving” activity discussed above. But it could also be taking a nap, or a bath, or reading. Other people are calmed by housework or yard work. Some people like to meditate, or take a nature walk. Find your calming activity and try to do it each day.
  6. Simplify your finances. Finances can be a drain on your energy and a major stressor. If that’s true with you, find ways to simplify things. Automate savings and bill payments and debt payments. Spend less by shopping (at malls or online) much less. Find ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money.
  7. Have a blast! Have fun each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Play with your kids — that can take your mind off everything and can be really hilarious. Play sports (with or without your kids). Board games are fun. Whatever you choose, be sure to laugh.
  8. Get creative. Throwing yourself into a creative activity is another great way to de-stress and to prevent stress. Consider writing, painting, woodworking, playing music, sketching, cooking or making pottery, interior design or building things.
  9. Declutter. Take 20 to 30 minutes and just go through a room, getting rid of stuff you don’t use or need anymore or find a better place for it. When you are done, you will have a nice, peaceful environment for work, play, and living. Do this a little at a time — make it one of your “fun activities.”
  10. Be early. Being late can be very stressful. Try to leave earlier by getting ready earlier, or by scheduling more space between events. Things always take longer than normal, so schedule some buffer time: extra time to get ready, to commute, to do errands before you need to be somewhere, to attend a meeting before another scheduled appointment. If you get somewhere early, it’s good to have some reading material. 

The 7 types of rest that every person needs

This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.

Have you ever tried to fix an ongoing lack of energy by getting more sleep — only to do so and still feel exhausted?

If that’s you, here’s the secret: Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two.

We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need. The result is a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals. We’re suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.

Rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of your life.

The first type of rest we need is physical rest, which can be passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest means restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.

The second type of rest is mental rest. Do you know that coworker who starts work every day with a huge cup of coffee? He’s often irritable and forgetful, and he has a difficult time concentrating on his work. When he lies down at night to sleep, he frequently struggles to turn off his brain as conversations from the day fill his thoughts. And despite sleeping seven to eight hours, he wakes up feeling as if he never went to bed. He has a mental rest deficit.

The good news is you don’t have to quit your job or go on vacation to fix this. Schedule short breaks to occur every two hours throughout your workday; these breaks can remind you to slow down. You might also keep a notepad by the bed to jot down any nagging thoughts that would keep you awake.

The third type of rest we need is sensory rest. Bright lights, computer screens, background noise and multiple conversations — whether they’re in an office or on Zoom calls — can cause our senses to feel overwhelmed. This can be countered by doing something as simple as closing your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day, as well as by intentionally unplugging from electronics at the end of every day. Intentional moments of sensory deprivation can begin to undo the damage inflicted by the over-stimulating world.

The fourth type of rest is creative rest. This type of rest is especially important for anyone who must solve problems or brainstorm new ideas. Creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us. Do you recall the first time you saw the Grand Canyon, the ocean or a waterfall? Allowing yourself to take in the beauty of the outdoors — even if it’s at a local park or in your backyard — provides you with creative rest.

But creative rest isn’t simply about appreciating nature; it also includes enjoying the arts. Turn your workspace into a place of inspiration by displaying images of places you love and works of art that speak to you. You can’t spend 40 hours a week staring at blank or jumbled surroundings and expect to feel passionate about anything, much less come up with innovative ideas.

Now let’s take a look at another individual — the friend whom everyone thinks is the nicest person they’ve ever met. It’s the person everyone depends on, the one you’d call if you needed a favor because even if they don’t want to do it, you know they’ll give you a reluctant “yes” rather than a truthful “no”. But when this person is alone, they feel unappreciated and like others are taking advantage of them.

This person requires emotional rest, which means having the time and space to freely express your feelings and cut back on people pleasing. Emotional rest also requires the courage to be authentic. An emotionally rested person can answer the question “How are you today?” with a truthful “I’m not okay” — and then go on to share some hard things that otherwise go unsaid.

If you’re in need of emotional rest, you probably have a social rest deficit too. This occurs when we fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those relationships that exhaust us. To experience more social rest, surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Even if your interactions have to occur virtually, you can choose to engage more fully in them by turning on your camera and focusing on who you’re speaking to.

The final type of rest is spiritual rest, which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. To receive this, engage in something greater than yourself and add prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.

As you can see, sleep alone can’t restore us to the point we feel rested. So it’s time for us to begin focusing on getting the right type of rest we need.

Editor’s note: Fatigue can also be associated with numerous health problems, so please get checked out by your physician if it persists.

To learn more about Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith and her work, visit her website. This post was adapted from her TEDxAtlanta Talk. Watch it here:

Ohio Schools Give Yoga & Mindfulness Classes Instead Of Detention

A school in Ohio is doing away with detention punishment and giving students mindfulness and yoga classes instead.

We think that every parent can pretty much agree that there really isn’t anything beneficial to detention.

While the thought of being punished works well for some children, for others, it’s looked at as free time during the day or after school.

And we can’t forget to mention that it ends up disrupting their paren’s schedules whenever they need to pick them up after school instead of taking the bus.

And what do kids learn during after school detention? While they might walk away getting a head start on their homework, the lessons learned during after school detention is pretty much zip.

A school in Ohio is setting out to change that and we think that all schools should follow suit.

Good News Network reported that, high school principal, Jack Hatert, of Yellow Springs High, along with nearby Mckinney Middle school, are working on alternate detention classes.

This would include both mindfulness practice led by an expert and yoga.

Each Monday for 30 minutes before the end of their class, the students can sit down on a blanket in Donna Haller’s second-floor classroom and take time to focus on their emotions, be present, and have an allover quiet moment.

Basically, they will walk away from detention with some coping mechanisms for dealing with their big emotions that might have gotten them there in the first place. Talk about being proactive. Bravo!

This is part of a statewide education initiative that is working to encourage teachers to offer this mindfulness training more regularly to students.

The program is called “Each Child, Our Future,” and the goal of it is to address the mental health epidemic currently happening in the United States and raise capable, well rounded young people.

These mindfulness classes are also accompanied by a yoga option as well, which is held every Wednesday in their library.

Led by Donna Haller, a certified yoga and meditation instructor for both adults and youth of all ages, who has been at this specific high school for nine years.

She shared with the Yellow Springs News, “I love it. It does as much for me as them,” she said of the calming effects.

Someone I know said that mindfulness and yoga have helped them with their ADHD and with processing an event where they had lost someone who was dear to them,” wrote freshman Isabella Beiring for a video project about the mindfulness and yoga program.

What an amazing way for kids to end their day!