Eight ways to Simplify Your Life to Reduce Stress.
I know it’s a tired refrain, but…doesn’t it seem that life has just gotten crazier and busier? And I’m not even talking about a worldwide pandemic or political infighting! Let’s just talk about in the confines of our own homes!
I’m always looking for ways to slow my world down, simplify my life, and make it less busy and stressful. I surely don’t have all the answers, and I don’t always do what I know I *should* do, but I do make a daily effort. It all comes down to creating healthy habits.
We’ve all heard that it takes ’21 days to form a new habit’, but more recent research has determined that it more like 2 – 8 months for a habit to be set. Don’t let that deter you; it’s just good to know the facts.
An overarching caveat, what works for me may not work for you. But I hope that at least some of these suggestions might prompt you to take a fresh look at developing habits that will help you simplify your life.
1. Develop a Routine or a System
Routines and systems help reduce stress and simplify your life. Predictable, repetitive routines are calming, help reduce anxiety and give you a sense of control over your life. Reducing the number of decisions you have to make each day will help you reduce stress and anxiety. And finally, having a routine helps to ensure you do the important things well.
I LOVE the early morning. My favorite time of the day is when it is just my 4-legged loves and me, up and puttering around a dark and quiet house. I take my medications/supplements, empty the dishwasher, fold and put away laundry, make coffee and tea, drink a cup of lemon-ginger tea, take a brisk walk by myself, and then another walk with my mom and our dogs. I am typically home from the second walk between 7:30-8:00, ready to tackle the day.
My morning routine is primarily about taking care of myself, and it is how I start my day. I recently hurt my knee, which meant that other than taking my meds and making myself some coffee or tea, I didn’t do any else for about 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks, I just felt ‘off’ due to not being able to ‘do my morning routine.’
Simplifying your life means only allowing what you really want and really need into your life.
Some other routines/systems that work for me:
- When I get the mail, I first stop at the recycling bin in the garage and deposit all junk mail before it even comes into the home.
- When I come home, I immediately put my purse on the counter in the laundry room. It is always where it is supposed to be! And if I have library books to take back, something that I need to take to mom, etc., those items are put right next to my purse so I won’t leave without them when I leave.
- I keep an extra leash in the car. Flora and I drive over to mom’s every morning. It only took me forgetting her leash once to realize that I needed to keep an extra one in the car. It’s one less thing I have to worry about.
- Peep, our sweet cat is on a special diet that I can only buy with a prescription. Our Vet offers a service to have the food auto-delivered on a set schedule. I discovered this when we were in quarantine, but I will keep this delivery service as there is no additional cost.
- Between my prescriptions and my husband’s, it seemed that I was running to the pharmacy every other week. I did two things to reduce the number of times I made a pharmacy run: I asked our doctors for 90 refills and worked with my pharmacist to renew them around the same time. It wasn’t difficult; it just meant that while in the process, for example, I might only get a 27-day refill for one Rx to tie in with the refill date of another.
What routines do you have that help you stay in control of your world? Are there opportunities to develop new routines?
One of the habits I am trying to develop is staying off my phone until I return from my second walk. I found that I was waking up and checking email and social media before getting out of bed. In essence, I was letting everyone else, good and bad, in my head first thing in the morning! Just that mental image has motivated me to use my phone only to check the weather or call my mom, if necessary, until I am ready for the day. This article really enlightened me and motivated me to make that change.
Are you team ‘I make my bed every day’ or team ‘not so much’?
I am firmly on the team ‘I make my bed every day!’ This routine helps my world seem less cluttered, more put together. There was a very short period of time, several years ago, where I got out of the habit, and I noticed that no matter how much I may have achieved in a day, the day just didn’t seem right. Walking into a room with a made bed gives a feeling of calm and order, while the opposite can lead to a feeling of disarray.
Multiple small accomplishments add up to larger accomplishments. And, if the day gets away from you and you don’t get everything done you had hoped, at least you can pat yourself on the back for making your bed!
2. Create Command Centers
Keep like things together. Kitchens are great places to create command centers. Designate a space for all of your coffee/tea fixings. Set aside a spot for everything you need when you bake. I have a shelf for all ethnic foods. If you have pets, keep all pet supplies in one place.
3. Get Some Exercise
Move your body, whether you go to the gym or take a brisk walk. Fresh air and movement are guaranteed stress relievers and actually help you to be more productive. An afternoon walk can help clear a mid-afternoon slump and brain fog and help you feel better.
You may wonder how exercise fits into ‘simplifying your life,’ but getting fresh air and movement helps me be more productive and helps put things in perspective. That ‘thing’ that has been nagging at you or causing anxiety will often fade once you step away from it.
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4. Use Your Phone…Wisely!
I know, I just got done saying not to use your phone; but what I am really saying is ‘control your phone, don’t let your phone control you!’
I just recently removed certain time-sucking, stress-inducing social media apps and games from my phone. It felt good to clean it up.
At the same time, there are some apps/programs that I swear by to keep myself organized. I have the Our Groceries App linked to my Echo, so all I have to do is say, “Alexa, tell Our Groceries to add kale to Harris Teeter,” and BAM! it is on my Our Groceries Shopping List app on my phone. You can have multiple stores, so I use it for Costco, Home Depot, etc… Gone are the days of arriving at the Grocery Store without my shopping list!
What apps/utilities on your phone help you to simplify your life?
I have also enabled my phone to help me simplify my life is to setting up weekly reminders for myself. We keep our Recycling Bin in our garage and kept forgetting to pull it out on Fridays for trash pickup. I set up a reminder every Friday at 8 a.m., and we haven’t missed a pickup since! I have several weekly reminders for myself and have set up reminders on Mom’s phone to remind her of her classes. While I call them ‘reminders’ on my phone (Android), they are under Alarms, and I label them and have them repeat weekly. On an iPhone, check out the Reminder app or just set the alarm and label it.
Use the notepad app on your phone. This app/utility is helpful when I need a certain battery or lightbulb the next time I am at the hardware store. I can take a picture of exactly what I need to refer to when at the store. Additionally, I started a note with ‘Plants I Like’…when I see something at the garden store or in a magazine, I jot it down or add a picture. Having ready access to what I need
5. Write it Down!
I tried to go completely digitally, doing away with the paper in my world. But, I found that that didn’t work for me; I need a paper planner to order my days. After spending too much money on planners that didn’t work for me, I discovered Plum Planners! What I love about Plum Planners is that their planners are customizable! My planner’s pages do what I need them to do!
While Plum Planners work for me, find what works for you and then use it.
I take 5-10 minutes each Sunday to meal plan for the next 1-2 weeks. Not only does this simplify my days since I don’t need to figure out what to each day, but I am a better steward of our leftovers. At the same time that I meal plan, I talk to Alexa (see above) and add whatever I need from the grocery store.
For too long, I got out of the habit of writing down my to-do list/goals for each day. When our kids were younger, I was very disciplined about it. After free-wheeling it for too long, I am returning to that habit, making for more orderly/simpler days. And, not for nothing, but checking things off is mighty rewarding!
6. Simplify Your Life By Reducing Clutter
It’s pretty simple, the less stuff you have, the less stuff you need to tend to! Reduce the superfluous, unappealing to free space in your home and mind. Clutter has been proven to increase our stress by filling our minds with excess stimuli. Additionally, clutter distracts us from what is important and causes frustration when we can’t find what is important.
Simplify your life by tackling it. Join the 6-week Declutter Challenge to help reduce your home’s clutter. Each week you will receive tips and a checklist specific to certain areas of your home.
7. Edit Your Wardrobe
While you are decluttering, check out your closet. Do you find that you wear only a fraction of the clothes in your closet regularly? Before my ‘aha’ moment, I was guilty of filling my closet with clothes I thought I would wear but ended up not wearing them.
Once I started paying attention, I realized that I wore the same outfits repeatedly; those were the outfits that I felt best in! I love ruffles and flowy/flowery stuff like the next gal, but I finally realized that they really weren’t ‘my style. I feel better in more tailored clothes. Now, I am much more critical of what I bring home.
By editing your wardrobe and your ‘style’, you will find that you spend less on clothing and simplify the ‘what to wear’ dilemma! Look at photos of yourself…what are you wearing in the photos that you like? On those days when you feel on top of the world, what are you wearing?
I wouldn’t say I have a ‘capsule wardrobe’ yet, but I am definitely moving towards it!
Go through your email inbox. It is nearly impossible to buy anything online today and not end up with that vendor in your inbox tomorrow! I sent my son pretzels for Valentine’s Day and started receiving daily emails from the Pretzel company the very next day. No offense Pretzel Company, but I unsubscribed the next day.
My friend Kathleen ends each day with ZERO unread emails in her inbox. She has motivated me to do the same!
Companies don’t make unsubscribing easy…without exaggeration, it is in the smallest print possible at the very bottom of the email. You do have to look for it.
I do hope some of these tips will come in handy as you try to simplify your life. Bookmark this page or pin the following image to refer back to this post.
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