Let’s be honest. If we all take a moment to do a little self-reflection right about now, a substantial amount of us will likely say that we’re feeling a substantial amount of (more) stress. And with the current state of all that’s going on around us, it’s no wonder really that studies show a significant spike in stress levels the world over. Gallup’s Latest Global Emotions Report quantifies this statement by providing data that shows that nearly 190 million people reported that they experienced significantly higher stress in 2020 than in years past.
That’s a lot!
Yes, the Coronavirus outbreak, a worldwide pandemic, and all the uncertainty which has followed are all valid reasons to feel more stressed. However, if we’re not careful, we’ll allow the stress levels to build to a point where they come detrimental to our health.
And I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling stressed. It’s awful. And it can be totally debilitating if left to its own devices.
But recently, I’ve put my metaphorical foot down and have said, “No more!” to lives ruled by stress. And so I’ve been on the hunt ever since for simple, but really effective ways to quickly kick stress to the curb!
And today, I’m sharing my most effective tactics with you! Because good news is even better shared!
So, let’s not waste any more time and dive right in to the 20 super fast ways you can kick stress to the curb once and for all!
1. Create To-Do Lists
My stress cycle starts when I suddenly start thinking about all the things I want to and need to do…but am simply not getting to for whatever reason. I start to feel overwhelmed by the mountainous to-do list, and I’m disappointed in myself for not being more proactive and for not doing all that I had intended.
So I’ve learned to turn to my to-do lists. I create to-do lists for everything! To-do lists decrease stress as they help keep track of all you have to do – without you straining your brain and exerting all that extra energy trying to remember all those things that need doing. So keep a notebook and pen on hand, or pick your favorite app (I’m a big fan of Google Keep, but there are tons of great options dedicated to to-do lists!) and you’ll be surprised at just how much everyday stress keeping running to-do lists can reduce.
2. Start Small
I recently read Atomic Habits by James Clear, and it’s been a serious game-changer! I can really beat myself up when I don’t feel like I’m meeting the goals I set out to achieve in “x” amount of time. Which then causes me to stress. And when I’m in this stress mode, everything feels like an insurmountable challenge.
And that’s where Atomic Habits comes in. It’s helped me alter habits that were leading me to the stress zone. Just making small changes to my daily routine, and little alterations to the way I do all that I’ve got to do has had a profound positive impact on the stress that I tend to feel. Proof that small changes really do yield big results when consistently applied!
3. Stick to a Schedule
Setting up a workable schedule is a really simple, but super effective way to keep those stress levels down. You have your to-do list, but those items are not going to do themselves! They need marching orders, so you need a game plan! And that game plan is a workable schedule.
A schedule takes the stress out of day-to-day life by breaking up all that needs to be done into manageable little sections. Your schedule also makes it so much easier to be productive. And when you’re being productive, checking off to-do list items, and just feeling “on top” of things, that’s one less thing you need to worry about!
4. Set Attainable Targets
And while you’re drawing up your schedule, make sure that the goals you’re setting for yourself are actually attainable, and not some “pie in the sky” endeavor! Because do you know what is of no help at all to your stress levels? Feeling like a failure because you haven’t achieved all you mentally planned for the day.
And this won’t do! So make sure that what you’re wanting to accomplish is, in fact, possible, and then set your targets accordingly. Learning to adjust my targets to what I am actually able to achieve in the not-too-distant future has really been an effective way to reduce those stress levels!
5. Assess Your Timeframes
Coupled with setting attainable targets, reassessing my timeframes has been a winner. Learning to set realistic timeframes for all you have to and want to do can seriously reduce a whole load of stress! Why? With realistic time frames in place, you’ll be able to consistently check items off your to-do list, and each tick is a great little endorphin boost! And those little boosts help keep motivation levels high, as well as helping you maintain a healthy mental state. And this all means that stress gets kicked to the curb!
6. Write it Down
Whether it’s on your to-do list (be it on paper or an app!), in your favorite notebook (everyone has a favorite notebook, right?), or your daily journal, a great stress reliever is just writing it down. The “it” can be everything from all the groceries you’ve managed to deplete so you’re not having to remember them all, to “that thing” that just irks you – write it all down!
The process of getting it out of your mind and onto the pages in itself can be very therapeutic. But writing things down frees them from your mind, and allows you to let them go, thus reducing your stress.
7. Try Productivity Techniques
A lot of work-related stress can be attributed to never feeling like there’s enough time to do all you have to do, and do it well. Enter productivity techniques! The Pomodoro Technique, the Pareto Analysis, or even the Kanban Method are all tried-and-tested methods to help you boost your productivity, but there are so many others to choose from! There are also some really amazing apps you could experiment with to help keep you focused and highly-productive, and, most importantly, stress-free.
8. Limit Screen Time
Another strategy to help you beat down your stress levels is to limit your screen time.
Studies have shown that extended exposure to blue light can have a marked impact on your sleep patterns. And reduced sleep usually means an increase in stress levels! And on top of that, there are also many results concluded by researchers in a 2017 study that states that adults who watched TV or used a computer for more than 6 hours per day were more likely to experience moderate to severe depression, and stress can be a major trigger!
So set yourself some designated device down-time. Put time limits on your social media apps (this is something most smart phones will allow you to do!), games, Internet-surfing, or whatever other activity you can cut out. Then get that good sleep and diminish that stress that threatens to sneak in.
9. Keep Your Body Healthy
When you’re tired, burned out, or when you feel like all the energy in your body has been zapped to oblivion, you know what you’re definitely going to start feeling? Stressed! That’s why it’s important to make keeping and maintaining a healthy body a priority.
Whether it’s ensuring that you’re getting enough sleep each night, staying hydrated, snacking on foods which give you energy, or regularly meditating, you’re going to be in a much better frame of mind, and you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed by stress.
The next few strategies will help you in keeping your body healthy…
10. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is another must when it comes to kicking stress to the curb! Exercise gives endorphins, known as the happy hormone, and a regular supply of these in our brains can help prevent our mental health from slipping and stress from taking over.
So whether it’s yoga or rock climbing, trail running, or water aerobics, regular exercise is an excellent stress reliever!
11. Consistently Get Quality Sleep
Scientifically speaking, one of the best ways to take care of your physical and mental well-being is simply to make sure you consistently get rejuvenating sleep.
Sleep is important as it’s the time when our bodies restore our energy levels, as well as giving our bodies the time to heal and repair, or simply process all that happens in a day. When we get enough sleep, we have the energy to accomplish our tasks and the emotional capacity to successfully navigate challenges. In short, our capacity to cope grows, and our stress diminishes.
Related read: The Best Podcasts To Help You Sleep
12. Nourish Your Body
There is also a whole lot of research that indicates a link between our mental health and our food choices! And so a super effective way to curb your stress is to make sure you’re giving your body what it needs to function at its best.
This means making sure you drink enough water every day, as well as feeding your body with healthy food. This will look different for everyone, but the results are the same. Give your body excellent input, and it will have the fortitude to carry you through all that you have to do.
13. Go for a Walk
A walk is a tried-and-tested way to clear your head! And so getting out in nature and filling your lungs with fresh air is a great way to destress!
You’ll get a great boost of endorphins from that little bit of exercise, but the fresh air and change of scenery can quickly quell anxious thoughts and a stressful mind and get you feeling at peace once again.
14. Feed Your Soul
An effective de-stress strategy is to carve out some “me” time in your busy schedule – time where you can do something you love without worrying about “the next thing.”
So when you feel your stress levels rising, take the time to run a hot bath, make a cup of tea or coffee, curl up with your favorite book. You could exercise, journal, or take the dog for a walk – basically anything that allows you that time your mind and body need to debrief, recharge, and allow the stress to eek away.
15. Practice Self-Care
A great de-stresser is to develop some healthy self-care habits. If you’re feeling overworked, overtired, or overstressed, a little self-care is in order!
Good sleep, the above-mentioned me-time, and healthy eating habits can all be grouped under self-care. But self-care can also look like re-establishing your boundaries, learning to say no, or stopping those activities that simply cause too much stress.
16. Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones
Isn’t it great news that spending time with the ones we love is good for us?! Spending quality time with those people we love not only strengthens our bonds, helping us feel grounded and connected. But there’s some happy hormones that get released when we spend time with those we care deeply for, and the right balance of those feel-good hormones are key to us experiencing good mental and emotional health, which equals less stress.
17. Clock Off at the End of the Day
I get it. You want to make your career a success. But this success will be short lived if you end up burned out from stress! You need to give yourself the time to debrief and decompress after each day. You need to make sure you clock off!
As much as you want to be, you’re not superhuman, and pushing yourself to the limit is only sustainable for a very short amount of time. If you want your success to be long-lasting, you need to make sure that you find the balance between work and the other facets of your life.
18. Aim for Positive Self-Talk
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by feelings of stress, this is the time when you need to learn to be kind to yourself. Some days are going to be great! But others are going to be less than stellar. And you need to be able to take both in your stride and not allow stress to come to the party.
And when those bad days happen, rather than seeing all the hurdles, or stressing out about where you feel like you’re falling short, focus on all the positives and silver linings. But most importantly, make sure that what you’re speaking to yourself is positive and that you’re not constantly mentally beating yourself up. Not only does speaking negatively about ourselves do nothing for our self-esteem, but that negativity is the breading ground for high levels of stress.
Related read: How To Consistently Conquer Imposter Syndrome
19. Schedule In De-Stress Breaks
For most of us, our work tends to be one of our greatest stressors. So as a way to cope with this work stress, you should incorporate the applicable stress-relieving strategies into your work routine. You need to schedule in some de-stress breaks.
Sometimes you just need five minutes in an hour to take some time to de-stress. And as you close your eyes, focus on your breathing, or utilize any of the de-stress techniques that work for you, allow your anxieties to quieten, and peace to fill your mind. Just doing these little exercises consistently throughout the day, even when you’re not feeling particularly down or stressed, can ensure your mind is kept in a calm, focused state.
20. Eat Chocolate
Last, but certainly not least, if you want a super fast way to kick stress to the curb, eat some chocolate. Yup. You read that right! Chocolate might just be the answer after all! They do say “stressed” is just “desserts” spelled backwards…
Kidding aside, chocolate really has been proven to help relieve stress. But there are some conditions. It has to be dark chocolate, in the range of 70% and above (sorry, folks, that bag of M&Ms ain’t gonna cut it!), consumed in moderation, and as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. But the bottomline is that chocolate can be an effective stress reliever and that’s a win in my book!
You now have 20 super fast and oh-so effective ways to help you de-stress and keep you at your best. We all know that stress is not good for us. At all. But we’ve often become so accustomed to feeling stressed, that we’re not really sure how to stop. But armed with these 20 strategies, you now have an effective game plan to put you on the stress-free path for good!
Related read: 10 Top Free Resources To Boost Your Productivity