Stress is a normal part of life. Still, like anything else, too much can be harmful to not only our mental faculties but also our physical health. It is important that we reduce and control the amount of stress in our lives.

The basic foundation of minimizing the harmful effects of stress is to eat good feeling food, move and stretch the body regularly, and adhere to a good sleep routine that leaves you well-rested. You must figure out how best to fit your unique needs in these areas. When you do, this important foundation will keep your body more robust and healthy despite stress.

Learning to let your mind free of stresses and worries is also an important stress buster. Meditation and quiet contemplation are two methods of reducing stress. If you’re not into meditation, spend a half hour or so each night reading a good book in a comfortable chair or take up an enjoyable hobby. Anything that distracts you from the concerns of the day and allows you a chance to decompress can be a worthwhile activity.

Go for a walk in the park or get a pet. Get a dog and take the dog for a walk in the park. A walk outdoors in the fresh air can do wonders for reducing stress, as can a companion animal. It likely wouldn’t hurt to combine the two if you’re so inclined.

Play games. Card games. Board games. Video games. Whatever floats your boat. You could also try puzzles. Putting a jigsaw puzzle together may be a good way to spend your time. It’s hard to worry about work when you’re trying to find a matching piece! Or, do a crossword puzzle, word find, or sudoku.

If you’re artistic, you could paint, draw, or even just doodle. You could try needle crafts, sand art, sculpture, wood carving, sewing or whatever suits your interests.

Take time to listen to music or watch television. Take an evening and go out for dinner and a movie. See a play. Go to a sporting event.

The important thing is to take some time out for yourself. Find something that works for you and remember to take time to do it. Relaxing and recharging are important!

Practice Being Organized

We all face some amount of stress in our lives. Some stress is caused by situations beyond our control, making it all the more important to do what we can to reduce stress in the circumstances we do control.

One thing within our control is our level of organization.

While on the face of it, organization may seem to have little to do with stress levels, a lack of organization will prove otherwise in a stressful situation.

If you’re under pressure to find an item in a stressful situation, imagine how much more stressed you will become when you cannot locate it.

As you shuffle through papers, folders and drawers, your frantic searching may cause further disorganization, setting the stage for a later repeat of the situation. If instead, you can quickly locate what you need when you need it, your stress levels will be lower than they might otherwise be.

Naturally, the first step is to do a thorough cleaning, eliminating clutter and organizing everything that is needed.

  • Make sure you organize everything in a manner that makes sense for you, using a system you will remember and stick with.
  • Once you get organized, stay organized.
  • Each day, set aside a few minutes to get your work area back in order.

Ideally and when practical, follow a pattern where you handle each item only once. For example, when you get a new document or piece of mail, read it and then act on it, file it, or recycle it. Eliminate the “I’ll do it later” items as much as possible. Too often, later never comes because of other more pressing needs. Additionally, you won’t suffer the stress of seeing a growing stack of “I’ll do it later” items sitting on your desk. You can better focus on the job at hand rather than being frustrated by the amount of work left to do.

Being better organized will not eliminate stress, but it can help keep it at reduced levels. Plus, it makes for a better and easier home and workplace, so there is no downside. Get organized and reap the benefits of increasing your productivity and reducing your stress level.

Remember to Breathe

Feeling a little stress is a normal part of the working day but when stress gets to be too much it can affect your judgment causing you to make rash decisions. Or, it can affect you physically causing tension in your muscles, increased heart rate, or aches and pains.

The key is to keep stress at a manageable level. One way to do this is with a simple breathing exercise.

  • Sit still in a relaxed position with your back straight.
  • Clear your mind as much as possible.
  • Breathe in slowly, for a deep breath.
  • Hold, but only as long as is comfortable.
  • Breathe out slowly.
  • Hold.
  • Breathe in.
  • Hold.
  • Breathe out.
  • Hold.

Repeat often. Take a few seconds here and there. Use a simple breathing exercise on a regular basis to help lower your stress level.

Those who write their goals down are more likely to reach them. For me, writing down the main ones in a few categories on an annual basis is a good way to go. I use the time around my birthday each year to inventory goals achieved and set goals for the next year. I pick the most important ones to me and break them down into smaller steps to be accomplished each month or quarter along the way to my next birthday. I learned this technique by reading Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed by Brian Tracy.

Goal setting is a very personal thing, though. We all have to take the time to learn what works best for us and stick to that. If a technique sounds good to you, try it for a month or so. Check your motivation and results at the end of the month to determine if that system is a keeper for you. Finding what works best is simply a trial and error exercise. Most importantly, keep trying.

When there is a goal you do not reach in by the deadline, it is time to reassess whether it’s still relevant to keep it on the list for the next year. If it is, no harm done, you just estimated wrong about when you could get it accomplished. So put it on the list again and spend time feeling what it will be like to reach that goal. Then try again. If it is no longer relevant to you, then let it go without worrying about it any further. Turns out it was just not important enough in the grander scheme of things.

Living in the moment and being fully present is also a critical idea to remember when goal setting. It can be easy to be distracted with anticipating a future goal or accomplishment that you must achieve before you can move on or allow happiness in your life. But, there is no need to be unhappy seeking a time in the future when all is will be accomplished. Even though it is important to outline goals and work towards accomplishments, it is also imperative to learn to enjoy the process.

“There are two things which will make us happy in this life if we attend to them. The first is never to vex ourselves about what we cannot help; and the second is never to vex ourselves about what we can help.” –Anonymous

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” –Ovid

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” –Sir John Lubbock

“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.” – Charlotte Brontë

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” –Etty Hillesum

one light bulb on, rest offOnce captured, an idea is available to you for future reference and further reflection, and to combine with other appealing ideas.

You capture an idea by bookmarking it, putting it in your social media streams, journaling it, sending yourself an email or voicemail, or using your digital recorder. However you decide to capture ideas, establish your system and use it religiously. Then be sure to review and revise your ideas regularly.

My favorite way to capture ideas is Evernote.com. With it, you can mingle audio recording, web page links, photos, and your written words together in an organized and searchable way that is fully digital. What I do is keep a pen and notebook handy for quick notes when I’m not at my computer then transfer to Evernote and mark off the journal pages once the content has been entered. I also have the Android App on my phone so I can get to my notes anytime. I love the new Moleskine notebook made to be used with Evernote. It is called the Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook.

You will not believe the increased effectiveness of your self-development endeavors as a result of getting clear on how to capture your ideas.