Along with a New Year comes the opportunity to let go of the past and start fresh and anew. It’s a perfect time to get serious about getting healthy. And one of the best ways to start on the road to health is to reduce the stress in your life. Don’t think of it as a new year’s resolution. Think of it as a brand-new start on your life.

Out with the old, and in with the new. What’s more is that it’s not as difficult as you think. You can have less stress with a few simple daily actions, eat better by adding in more healthy food and get healthier by exercising more without feeling like it’s so much work.

In addition, just a few money and time management changes will make all the difference in your life. Finally, you’ll have more time for more fun without spending tons of money. You’re going to feel so much better with just a few specific changes, that you’ll have the very best year you’ve ever had. Let’s get started.

Lower the Stress in Your Life

There are many factors that cause stress, both internal and external. Thankfully, for the most part, there are ways to limit exposure to stress and decrease the effects stress has on you that you can’t control. There is no way to totally limit stress from your life. Some stress is good, too. You have good stress and bad stress. You have some stressors that you have control over and some that you do not.

Identify Stressors

Your first step to lowering your stress level is to first identify stressors you have in your life. Get out a piece of paper or a document on your computer and make a list of everything in your life that causes you stress. Don’t worry yet if they’re fixable, internal or external. Just write them all down.

Examples to get you started:

  • You’re always running late.
  • You hate being stuck in traffic all the time.
  • You’re too tired to cook dinner at night.
  • You’re always losing things.
  • You have family and friends who are difficult.
  • You get frustrated getting dressed in the morning.
  • You can’t fix your hair the way you want to.
  • Your kids are often late to school.
  • Mornings are a nightmare.
  • There’s too much clutter in your home.
  • You forget appointments.
  • You have trouble paying bills each month.
  • You hate your job.
  • Your boss requires too much of you for the pay.
  • You have too much work.
  • Your health is not as good as you want it to be.

You get the idea. Write down anything that comes to mind. If you want to, take a week and write down anything that happens to you that causes stress every single day in that 7-day period.

Organize Your List

Once you have a good list, it’s time to separate into internal and external. Pretty much everything that is internal should have a solution that’s totally in your control. The things that are external you may only be able to control your own actions. But, there is still a lot you can do to lower the stress in your life.

Example:

stress-chart

Create Solutions

Now we can look at each stressor and come up with an appropriate solution. For example, if you’re always running late for work or getting the kids to school this is an internal issue. It’s not controlled by outside forces and you’re in complete control of it. It might not seem like it sometimes, but you are.

Work Together

Have a family meeting about how you’re all going to work together to make mornings better. Each night, ensure that everyone has their clothing laid out for the next day, including you. Ensure that everyone gets to bed on time so that everyone is well rested in the morning. Set alarms. Teenagers can get themselves up and fed. Take that off your plate. If you prefer to ensure everyone eats healthy for breakfast, prepare it the night before, or let everyone eat fruit for breakfast. Fruit is the original fast food. Two or three bananas for breakfast is super healthy and better than a bowl of sugary cereal.

Let Go

If you take them to school tell them what time you will be leaving each morning. Anyone not in the car at that time gets left. It will only take once or twice for your child to be on time. It might sound controversial to let a teenager miss school, but ensure that there are other consequences such as you won’t write them a note, and they don’t get to do things they want to do if they don’t go to school. If you do have access to school buses, start using them for even more freedom from this type of stress.

If you have younger children, get them ready for school first, and put them in front of the TV or computer game while you get ready. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your spouse. You can’t expect a spouse to know what to do if you don’t tell them and let them do it. Don’t micromanage them. If everyone is in the car or at the bus stop on time, that’s really the important thing. Everything else doesn’t need to be perfect. Most school age children can dress themselves and should do so the minute they’re able.

Consider an external factor that you have no control over.

Traffic. One way to deal with traffic is to try other routes to work. There may even be a longer route that is quieter. Even if it takes a little longer, less traffic is preferable and less stressful. If there is no other way, then you need to find another way to control your reaction to the traffic.

Listen to good music that makes you happy. Listen to a book that you wanted to read but don’t have time to. This is going to be very helpful, because it makes being in the car something to look forward to rather than something to dread, even if traffic is not great. If you’re a nervous driver, take steps to lessen that problem.

For example, don’t have your first cup of coffee until after you get to work, since caffeine can heighten stress levels. Take a defensive driving course so that you know what to do in aggressive traffic. Ensure that your vehicle is the right one to drive in the type of traffic you need to navigate each day. That high gas mileage 3-cylinder car might not be made for driving in Atlanta traffic efficiently.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be considering other ways you can reduce stress in your life – and increase your well-being. Here’s to a great 2017!

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