A new year usually means optimistic predictions and setting new resolutions. This year might be a little different for many people with the economy in a slump and jobs being lost. Many of us are under a great deal of stress. We all know that stress is bad for us, but it can difficult to avoid. That's why we decided to start the year with a few tips to help reduce stress.
1. Get Organized
A lack of organization can create a great deal of stress. Most of us have many things that we are responsible for doing. These things can include work tasks, family commitments, or any other "things" that we must do. A great place to start is writing down anything that you can think of that you are responsible for doing. If your head is cluttered with all of those "things", it's very difficult to decide where to start. Once you've written everything down, you can set a plan.
In his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen discusses how all of our to-do items can increase our stress level if they aren't managed well. He also presents a great system for getting things under control. For more information about the "Getting Things Done" or "GTD" concept, check out his website at www.davidco.com.
There are many other tools on the market to help you get organized. If you search Google or Yahoo for "GTD applications" for either Windows or Macs, you will find a number of links. Here are a couple of my favorite organization tools:
Things from Cultured Code - Mac only, but offers a free trial version
ThinkingRock from Thinking Rock - Mac or Windows offered free
Highrise, Basecamp, & Backpack from 37signals - offers free & paid versions of their web-based programs
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps to increase blood flow, decrease stress, improve muscle function, and guard against injury. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans gives more information about the types and amount of exercise that is recommended. The key is to find something that you enjoy and do regularly. You can find a link to the 2009 Guidelines on our homepage.
Getting enough sleep is more important than you might think. When your body is sleep deprived, your blood pressure and stress hormones increase. A good night's sleep gives you energy and makes you more alert. It can improve memory, keep your heart healthy, and help maintain proper body weight. Lack of sleep can cause a deficiency in serotonin which can lead to depression. While you sleep, your cells produce protein that forms building blocks for cells and helps repair damage.
4. Distract yourself
Focusing too much on stressful issues is exhausting and unhealthy. It's good to distract yourself from your daily stressors. Spend time with family, find a new hobby, or learn to play an instrument. It's important to realize that it's okay to put your "to-do" lists aside sometimes.