THE BLOG
01/08/2016 03:28 pm ET Updated Jan 08, 2017

8 Things You Can Do to Reduce Stress in Your Life

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We all have stress in our lives. In fact, it's virtually impossible to live a stress-free life unless you go off and live by yourself on a mountain somewhere. Even then, maybe you'd be stressed out by the weather or lack of food!

But seriously, stress can be very harmful to your life (and even your body). So how can we try to lead a more balanced, calm life? Here are 8 things that help me when I get stressed out. Hopefully they will help you too.

1. Say no

Many people (especially women) are "people pleasers." We all want to be liked and loved, so we think that if we do things that make other people happy, then we will be happier. But it doesn't always work out that way! If you say yes when you really want to say no, then you are piling up unnecessary things on your "to do" list. For example, maybe someone asked you to be president of the PTO or to coach a soccer team, you don't have to say yes! Those kinds of activities in particular are very time consuming. So before you commit to something, stop and ask yourself if you really, genuinely have the time and energy to do it. And more importantly, ask yourself if you really WANT to do it. Saying no is not selfish. It's self-love.

2. Meditate

Some people think meditation is kind of kooky and "woo-woo". We usually think of Buddhist monks doing that sort of thing. But there are many physical benefits to mediation. From improving concentration and focus to slowing the aging process, the list of positive effects is long. And you don't have to sit with your legs crossed and your hands in the mudra position changing "ohhhmmm." You can simply lay down in bed or sit in a chair - however you feel most comfortable.

3. Plan ahead

There are many procrastinators in the world. For some, it's in their nature. And for others, we procrastinate on things that we really don't want to do. However, putting things off doesn't mean that we don't eventually have to do them! When I was in graduate school, I would always get my papers done at least week or two before they were due. My fellow students would tease me about that, but guess who got more sleep and was less stressed out? Me! Sometimes, it's all about planning.


4. Ask for help

You don't have to be a super hero! No one is expecting you to perform miracles or to be perfect. So if you are expecting that of yourself, stop! If your husband or kids aren't helping out around the house like they should be, tell them to do more. And if they don't, stop doing something (like the laundry) until they notice - and then point out that they need to pitch in and do their part. Even asking neighbors or friends for help is reasonable. We're all in this together, so don't feel like you have to go it alone!

5. Hire a personal assistant and/or cleaning service

I realize that this suggestion takes money. However, cleaning takes time! Hiring a cleaning service can take a huge load off of your plate and can reduce your stress. And even things like running errands or doing laundry can stress us out. Think about how great your life would be if you never had to worry about those mundane things that need to be done ... because you didn't to have to do it yourself.

6. Schedule "me time"

Once again, many women think that taking time for themselves is selfish. But as I said above, it's about self-love, not being selfish! I am a single mom. And my kids' dad is very involved in their lives. As a result, I naturally get "me time" when they are at his house. And I always say that I am a better mom because I am divorced and get my alone time. It might sound strange, but it's true! When my kids are gone, I get to recharge. Alone time allows me to get mentally and emotionally ready to be the best mom I can be when they return. Even if you aren't divorced, you can still negotiate some alone time. Trust me, it's worth it!

7. Get a massage

I love massages. Not only do they feel good, they are good for your body too. It relaxes you, and it also helps with things like anxiety, headaches, muscle aches and other things that are negatively affect your well-being. You can even choose which type of massage you want: Swedish, deep, sports, or trigger point. There is something for everyone!

8. Positive self-talk & re-framing

This is so important. Sometimes what we get stressed out about is nothing but our minds blowing something out of proportion. Or maybe we're worrying about something that might happen in the future, but it hasn't yet. So living in the "now" and keeping the big picture in perspective is crucial to re-framing how you view the things that could potentially cause you stress and anxiety.

No one will completely eliminate stress. But you need to keep in mind that your thoughts and actions directly impact how you handle the things that happen to you. So if you keep even just a few of these 8 things in mind - and put them into practice - you will eventually feel much more calm, relaxed, and happy.