5 small things you can do to feel calmer and more in control every day
Forever feeling like you are chasing your tail and can never switch off – not properly?
You are not alone.
In our increasingly hectic lives, so many of us struggle to let mentally go of our never-ending to-do lists, and end up feeling stressed and anxious at all times.
The problem? Stress is bad news for our health – especially when it lingers.
1. Do a de-clutter of your home
Clutter and mess are known to cause us anxiety and is a major stress factor, reminding us we have no time to tidy.
And not only that, but it also stops our home from being our haven, the place we can really just lower our shoulders and feel our most zen.
However, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of tackling your whole house in one, frenzies Marie Condo-esque go. Which is why you might be better off focusing on one area – at least to start with. Ask yourself this one question: Which part of your home is the messiest – or causes you the most stress?
Is it the kitchen where every press could do with a clearing out? Your bedroom, which looks like an absolute tip? Or the dining table, which has become the dumping ground for everything from post and homework, to baskets with laundry that need folding?
Whatever area bothers you the most, start there, and you'll soon realise you feel calmer (and more ready to tackle the rest of your house next).
2. Be strict about your bedtime routine
Don't underestimate the power and importance of sleep – it is vital when it comes to beating feelings of stress and anxiety.
It is so easy to try to catch up on adult time – or me time, even – after you finally get the kids to bed, as well as running around getting stuff tidied and everything ready for the next day. But to feel your best, and to give your body a chance to rest and recover, you need to make sleep a no-negotiable.
Just like children, most adults also feel calmer with certain routines in place, and bedtime is the perfect time to be strict about a routine that actually helps get you feeling relaxed and ready for sleep.
Find a routine that works for you, be it a bath before bed, some hot milk, or even a few minutes of meditation, stick to this, and make sure you get at least eight hours a night – you will be guaranteed to feel so much better and less stressed the next day.
3. Break a sweat every day (preferably outside)
Exercise is proven to help us combat feelings of stress and anxiety, and so making time for at least a little bit of it every day will no doubt do wonders for your wellbeing, in many ways.
If you struggle to make it to the gym every day, find other ways to be active. Walk to work, take the kids to the park after school and jog after them as they scoot or cycle, find a yoga session on Youtube and do it on your living room floor (or in the garden). Don't make exercise complicated, just try to make sure you pencil some in every day, and you will soon see how much energy it gives you and how it just seems to melt away stress and feelings of anxiety.
4. Write down your schedule (and stick to it)
I am a huge believer in that writing things down not only helps you get stuff done, and prevents you from forgetting about something that needs doing, but also helps you feel calmer, because you are no longer just juggling this do-to list in your head.
Whether you use a planner or have a calendar on your fridge, it doesn't really matter, just as long as you write things down somewhere where you glance often, and hence will naturally know how your day looks and manage to stay on top of things.
To get started, take a few moments on a Sunday afternoon and sit down and plan out your week. Write down everything you need to do and remember the different days, from dentist appointments to meetings at work you need to be prepared for. You can even schedule in things like yoga classes or lunch with friends – writing these things down makes you more likely to commit and stick to the plan.
It can also be a good idea to in the morning, write yourself a little to-do list for the day, starting with the most important thing that you need to make sure gets done. That way, you'll always feel like you are on top of your life, and are less likely to feel like time is just slipping through your fingers, causing you stress.
5. Practice saying 'no' – and do it often
Admit it; sometimes you say 'yes' to things you would so much rather have said 'no' to. Helping out organise that baby shower for a friend of a friend? Hosting that big family dinner? Volunteering at yet another soccer bake sale? Or even just accepting an invite to a party or social gathering you feel like you 'should' go to, when you'd rather have a night in with Netflix and your favourite pj's.
We are all guilty – and we all need to get better at saying no when we mean it. Practise makes perfect and becoming better at saying no – in a respectful, but firm, way—is a crucial skill, trust me. Not only will it give you less stress, but it will also ensure you can manage your time better, and have the time to say yes to things that really matter.