If the week ahead already gives you a headache, it’s likely you’re experiencing stress. Negative anticipation and dread of too much to do wreaks havoc on anyone. The key to living a happy and productive life isn’t finding a way to live with stress, it’s how to overcome it.
Take the 7-day stress cure and see your life do a dramatic 180-degree turn:
Day 1 – Declutter one room.
Tackling an entire house at one time is setting yourself up for disappointment, fatigue and a sense of failure. No way can you do an adequate job. You might start out okay, but the nagging thought of so many more rooms to get to will cause you to skip some thorough cleaning in favor of a quick once-over. Instead, single out one room and give it the top-to-bottom decluttering it deserves. Not only will the result give you a sense of accomplishment and pride, it will also do an excellent job of bashing stress.
Day 2 – Get a good night’s sleep.
Why is getting a good night’s sleep recommended for day 2 instead of day 1? Considering that you want to get started on the 7-day stress cure as soon as possible, most people will be awake when they read this. Better to take on the first day’s offering and then get the good night’s sleep. Okay, so that could be considered the extension of day 1, but let’s not nit-pick. Strive for consistent, unbroken sleep. Eliminate all distractions from falling asleep, such as too much light from electronics. Make sure the room is cool since this is conducive to restful sleep. Check out other good sleep advice from the National Sleep Foundation. The key takeaway is that when you get a good night’s sleep, you’re eliminating toxic proteins, as research from the University of Rochester found.
Day 3 – Go for a long walk.
Walking outside increases the amount of oxygen in your lungs and produces endorphins in the brain. These are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals that bust stress and make you, well, feel good. In addition, there’s always something new to see and notice when you give your full attention to walking. If you don’t like walking solo, invite a friend. The casual conversation you share and the conscious choice to be with that person will amp up your sense of well-being and rapidly ratchet down stress.
Day 4 – Pare your to-do list.
Who doesn’t have an inordinate number of items on their to-do list? This isn’t a natural condition, however, and it is very much something over which you have control. If you can’t see yourself eliminating some projects or tasks, at least break them up into smaller chunks, or create a different list for those items that can wait for a week or longer. Much of what you think is necessary probably isn’t. Less things on your to-do list means less stress build-up.
Day 5 – Eat clean and healthy.
Since what you eat goes a long way toward helping reduce stress or adding to it, make a conscious choice to eat clean and healthy. Select fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grain breads, and cereals. Drink plenty of water, since hydration is important in maintaining bodily health and crushing stress. Avoid too much sugar, salt, and fat. You’ll be well on your way to revamping your eating routine and giving stress the heave-ho.
Day 6 – Engage in meditation and yoga.
Two of the biggest stress-busters are meditation and yoga. Practiced for thousands of years, meditation and yoga are drug-free ways to clear away intense and intrusive emotions, including the toxic effects of stress. You don’t have to be a mystic to practice them, either. Anyone can do it. Do some Internet searches for how to meditate, buy a book or DVD, watch clips on YouTube or websites dedicated to meditation and yoga. These are excellent practices to get involved in to combat stress and learn to cut if from your life.
Day 7 – Spend time with friends.
Social engagement with friends is like icing on a cake. Laughing, participating in a recreational activity, working on a hobby, going to a movie, concert or another entertainment venue, sharing a meal, a hike, gardening or whatever gives you and your friend or friends time to unwind, be in the present, and appreciate life. It’s also the final piece of the 7-day stress cure, so make sure to include it.
Stay tuned for next week’s article where I share my 10 favorite summertime stress-busters!