By Paul Rizzo
We spend most of our time adding new stresses to our lives. Taking on more responsibility at work, visiting the in-laws, saying yes to every wedding invitation (even the destination ones). In isolation, these things aren’t bad. But when you add them to all your other obligations, an activity that should be more fun than stressful becomes the opposite.
Smack in the middle of the holiday season, there's probably even more stress than usual jammed into your days. Here are a few low-investment, high-reward ways you can lighten the load and simplify your life.
1. Just decide already.
We drive ourselves nuts analyzing the nuances of each possibility, agonizing over the least-stressful option versus financial and other concerns, when our best shot at saving ourselves stress might just be to make a choice and let the chips fall where they may.
Major decisions warrant some serious considerations (like whether it's okay to turn down your 12th invitation to join a wedding party this year). But if you're weighing the pros and cons of which casserole to make for the holiday, close your eyes and point. Now move on.
No one can do everything all the time. Delegating is key to holding on to your sanity in especially stressful periods. It can be a tough leap at first, but once you give yourself permission to try not doing everything yourself — just once — you'll realize how much more effective it makes your efforts everywhere else.
I use a service called Fancy Hands to do research, make appointments, and even make annoying calls to customer service for me, but there are a ton of services like this (think Task Rabbit), as well as task-specific companies that will deliver groceries or meals, pick up and drop off laundry and dry-cleaning, and complete any number of other time-consuming chores.
3. Make your workout clothes your pajamas.
If you exercise in the morning, sleep in the clothes you're wearing to the gym. Eliminating that extra step saves time and might mean the difference between deciding to snooze through the workout and making it there.
Laying out your work clothes at night has a similar de-stressing, time-saving effect. Making decisions when you feel less rushed not only means you can think more clearly about your choices, but that you can have a less panicked start to your day.
4. Automate your emails.
A lot of my emails are canned responses. For example, if people ask about my book, Listful Thinking, I have a prewritten response to copy, paste, and send off to them. This saves huge amounts of time I'd otherwise spend answering the same questions over and over. For more ways to trim your email clutter, check out my course on getting to inbox zero.
5. Keep calm and have a cup of tea.
Seriously. I love tea! I’m practically obsessed — and with good reason. Tea can help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Having a cup of tea gives you a chance to stop what you're doing, take a step back, and reassess. It’s important to take your foot off the accelerator every once in a while.