Get organized, and you’ve taken one big step on the way to reducing stress. What does it take to get organized? Try getting up earlier and giving yourself more time in the morning. Prepare your shirt and pants the night before. Make your lunch the night before. You can avoid some of the mad scramble to find everything in the morning and start your day on a less stressful note. With your family, organize some tasks, such as meal planning and preparation, and other household chores, so that the family can work together. In this way, one person won’t have the stress of doing everything.
Write everything down that you need to do and remember. Make lists. Make up a time schedule that includes those things you have to do and also allow some time for the things you want to do, such as shopping or watching television.
While you are setting goals, listing priorities, and writing schedules, be sure to include time to do something you like that will allow you to tune out your worries for a while. That’s what sixteen-year-old Vanessa did when she tried out for the soccer team. Vanessa is one of the top students in her high school class, taking advanced courses in English, math, and science. She has won awards for her English essays. She is also a member of the student council.
“Everyone thought I was crazy to try out for soccer when I had so much studying and so many responsibilities,” Vanessa says. “I think they understand now that I needed soccer so that I could get away from all the pressures and stress. It really works. When I’m playing soccer, I don’t worry about anything else. When I have to go back to studying I feel better about it. I also like being with people that I might not have met otherwise.”
To help reduce stress, it is important to take time to do something you like, something that makes you feel comfortable, or something that makes you feel calm. You can choose from a variety of activities that will make you feel good and that don’t involve a lot of planning, a lot of money, or a lot of thought.
An appropriate activity can be something as simple as eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cleaning a closet, feeding the birds, or writing to a faraway friend. You can take a walk, read a mystery, take a bath, bake cookies, learn a new song, run a mile, start a collection, or volunteer to help someone who needs it. Do an activity on a regular basis that is calming for you.
Besides planning work and recreation, you can set aside a special time in your schedule for worrying, too. This way, worrying won’t interfere with the rest of your life, adding stress. Just thinking about your problems may lead you to a plan of action or a solution. Try not to worry about things that are beyond your control.
If the source of your stress is the illness or death of a family member or friend, set aside time to think about that person and your good memories of his or her life. Write about your feelings in a journal. In that person’s memory, do something you enjoy. Share your memories with others.