Stress is the number one mental health issue in the United States, as well as in many other industrialized nations. From the moment we wake up until the moment we set our alarm at night, we are busy and on the go. This fast-paced lifestyle feeds stress, and if left unchecked can damage our physical and mental well-being. Since it’s not a practical solution for everyone to retire early and become self-sustaining farmers, here are a few tips to make your daily schedule less stressful so you can live a happier and healthier life.
As cliché as it may sound, a great day really does start the night before. To start your day off on the right foot, turn in for bed as close to 10 p.m. as possible. Resting between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. is incredibly important for the health of your adrenal glands- which are in control of your cortisol production and circadian rhythm. Even if you don’t think you’ll be able to fall asleep, retreat to the comfort of your bed and either read a relaxing book or listen to some guided meditations.
To prevent your mind from racing as you try to fall asleep, make a to-do list for the next day before you retire to bed. Getting all those important tasks out of your mind and onto paper will help you feel more settled and less likely to stress about forgetting minor details.
Wake Up on the Right Side of the Bed
The mindset you have upon waking will most likely stick with you for the entire day. The good news is, you can choose your mood! Make a point to smile when you first wake up, and stretch luxuriously in your bed for a few moments before you get up. Use this time to be completely present in the moment- take note of how your body feels at rest, how the sheets and blankets drape across you, and the sights and sounds of the world waking up outside.
Absolutely do not check your email, monitor your stocks, or view your bank account before you get out of bed. Doing so can kick start your stress response, so hold off until a more appropriate moment. Instead, begin your day with a comforting ritual like savoring a cup of freshly brewed coffee, writing in a journal, or taking a few minutes to stretch and exercise.
Take a Timeout
As your day speeds along, it’s easy to become wrapped up in task after task without taking a moment to refocus your mind in between. Set small goals for yourself to complete over the course of your day and take little breaks after each milestone. Breathe deeply, stand up and stretch, or go for a quick walk. Make sure you also have healthy snacks available to nourish your body and mind.
Let Go of Expectations
Having a loose plan for your day is always a good idea, but creating high expectations for the exact play-by-play of your day can leave you feeling disappointed if things don’t turn out as you had hoped. Keep a little space in your schedule to make adjustments as the day goes on. You might be surprised by opportunities that come up or the synchronicity of how things fall into place effortlessly when they aren’t forced.