THE BLOG

7 Habits for a Stress-Free Life

06/17/2015 03:17 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2016

Feeling stressed? You're not alone! Almost everyone struggles with managing life in this highly connected, 24/7 world. And, If you're anything like me, you may have never learned healthy coping skills for stress.

In my attempt to understand and live a more balanced, less stressed life, I've identified seven habits. Since incorporating these, my life works better, I'm less crazed and more productive.

So instead of coming home and drinking a six-pack of beer, or vegging out in front of the TV, consider adding some of these into your life.

1. Breathing

My no. 1 rule to live by is breathing. Of course you breathe all the time (or you'd be dead!) But when you can focus on your breath -- and take a few nice, deep breaths -- it will instantly transform your moment.

Suddenly you'll feel more expansive. Breathing with awareness slows down the whirling thoughts and offers room for clarity.

Breathing always comes before I make any shifts or changes. I stop, breathe and then take action.

2. Visualize It

I believe that the Universe is always supporting us and providing us with what we need. Unfortunately, we're often unclear about what we DO want or are accidentally giving the Universe messages of things we don't want.

We constantly telegraph our desires - consciously and unconsciously- to the Universe with our thoughts, intentions, imagery and words.

When you find yourself in a stressful situation, pause for a moment and visualize the outcome you actually want.

  • Is it to have plenty of time to get your tasks done?
  • Maybe there's a grievance that needs to be resolved easily and effortlessly - picture that.
  • Perhaps you want a specific outcome. Instead of thinking about what you don't want to happen, try seeing what you do want - as if it's already done.

3. Be a Thought Gardener

We're always thinking. Unfortunately so many of those thoughts are negative or are unconscious. Things such as:

  • "I should have remembered to..."
  • "Wow, my hair looks terrible today."
  • "I messed up that one part of my presentation..."

Make the decision to have kind and positive thoughts - about yourself, your work and home life. A simple way to incorporate this is to utilize affirmations.

  • I easily and effortlessly get the job done.
  • I am beautiful today.
  • I am smart and conscientious.

Positive thoughts are uplifting and support us in feeling less stressed and being more productive.

4. Have Healthy Boundaries

It can be hard to say NO but this is a really important step in order to take care of yourself. The ability to say NO is directly related to boundaries.

  • Are you okay with taking on this project or do you already have too much to do?
  • Do you need more help at home because suddenly all the chores have fallen into your lap?

Another way to explore boundaries is to identify people and situations that are stress triggers. As much as possible, eliminate these. If you can't, see if maybe you can adjust how you show up.

For example, if watching the news before bed makes you anxious and then it's hard to fall asleep, watch something else, read, play a game or practice deep breathing.

Is there a particular person who makes your blood pressure spike? Can you avoid seeing her? If not, how can you limit your exposure?

5. Meditation -- Start a Daily Practice

This can be as simple as five minutes in the morning. Meditating first thing will set your day and infuse you with energy, clarity and peace.

There are now apps designed to help you start a practice. They offer guidance, music, timers and reminders for you to come back to your practice. Some are free and some are not. For a list of 17, click here.

6. Schedule FUN

This should probably be no. 1! As adults, it's so easy to fall into the serious trap. Life is all about business, things are important and weighty. But it's crucial for our mental health, youthfulness and creativity to incorporate fun into our schedules.

Fun is rejuvenating and actually feeds us.

After an afternoon at the beach or a night at the comedy club, you'll be surprised at how much easier it is to work. We have to give ourselves fun time - all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (not to mention grouchy and uptight!)

What does fun look like to you?

7. Self Care

For many of us this can be hard - especially if we're programmed as givers or care takers. We can falsely interpret self care as selfish but here's the thing: you can't give to others (pour from the pitcher) if there isn't anything to give. We have to replenish the pitcher in order to give!

What does self care look like to you?

  • Is it curling up with a good book?
  • Getting a massage?
  • Treating yourself to takeout or a movie night?

Make a list of things that feel good, are relaxing and/or rejuvenating.

Try incorporating these seven habits and bring more peace and joy into your life. We can use the tasks and work in our lives to propel us ahead and inspire us or they can overwhelm us. By incorporating these ideas, see if life suddenly feels easier and a bit more enjoyable!

Shakti Sutriasa is the Founder of DecideDifferently.com, offering life coaching, counseling and workshops that combine modern psychology and spirituality. Shakti is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has an MA in Education. To learn more Click Here