Stress is frustrating (and unfortunately inevitable), but there are little things(stupidly simple things) you can do each day to improve your mindset, work environment, and overall well-being/attitude.
1. Clear your inbox.
This year, for me, was the year for eliminating the unnecessary. And this started with my emails. Have you ever filtered through your inbox, finding yourself deleting message after message after message? That was me, but by the hundreds. Somehow I had acquired numerous newsletters, updates, and weekly subscriptions from what felt like every company under the sun—most of them I didn’t even care about, nor pay attention to!
Not only did I do mass deletion of the products/services/programs/companies I was no longer interested in, I also took on the task of unsubscribing to things I just really didn’t have interest in. This was a slightly daunting, but extremely rewarding process. I could not only start fresh, but when a new email came in that I wasn’t excited about, I could simply unsubscribe to ensure I wouldn’t get anything else from that brand again!
Something else I did was create a separate account strictly for more ‘social’ and promotional content, separating things like coupons, clothing stores, events etc. from my work content (which has a work-specific email) and my professional account (additional account for all day-to-day important things).
Honestly, so much time is wasted in sorting through emails, deleting unnecessary messages, sifting through and attempting to organize an already cluttered inbox. Just stop. Take time to do one mass clean-out, and then use the end of the day Friday / beginning of each Monday to sift through things you don’t care about so that you can start completely fresh heading into the weekend/work week. This will reduce anxiety tremendously. I promise.
2. Make two to-do lists.
It’s important to separate work from personal, even and especially when it comes to things you have to get done. Instead of stressing yourself out with one giant list, categorize things in a way that helps you set aside time for specific tasks and makes them feel more manageable.
Always consider the two ‘p’s’: present and pressing. What is something that’s happening now? Do you have a deadline to meet? A job interview coming up? A task that needs to be completed by the end of the day? Do the present first—everything else can come later.
Consider pressing, too. Pressing is something that hangs above your head with urgency. Perhaps it’s not necessary to get done soon but it’s big, constant, or something that’s giving you a lot of anxiety. Try to tackle those things as soon as possible.
4. Leave your workspace.
This might be one of those okay captain obvious tips, but this is important to remember, especially for freelancers who may have a home office (or, of course, for the 9-5’ers who may be at the same cubicle/desk all day). Getting up and moving is essential. Even if you’re not getting up to necessarily walk or workout, just leaving the area is important to give your brain a break.
Take a walk to the bathroom, to the hallway, outside to get a breath of fresh air, around the room or the block, to the corner store, etc. Get on the phone and call a friend or family member during lunch break, stretch—whatever works for you! But leave the workspace.
When we’re stressed, sometimes the best thing in the world is to refocus on something else (even temporarily) to get into a more positive headspace.
5. Ditch the caffeinated beverages.
I get it—you might need a coffee to get you up, a mid-afternoon energy drink for a jolt—but you’re creating an environment of inner chaos when you combine stress and caffeinated beverages. Monitor your intake and instead opt for more natural energy boosters, like chia seeds, energy boosting vitamins like these, or matcha green tea powder (if you still need a little caffeine boost).
Also, try to sub water for your coffee/beverage as much as possible. Staying hydrated will naturally give you more energy and stamina, while helping your overall body (skin, digestion, mindset, etc.)
6. Take a five minute, unplugged break.
When I’m stressed, I find myself getting distracted by social media. While mindlessly scrolling through feeds, reading other people’s work, and not being focused on my projects for a few minutes can be stress relieving, I find that I’m often comparing myself, or simply wasting time, which gives me more anxiety in the long run (a vicious cycle).
If you’re like me, and find yourself reaching for your phone for a ‘break,’ opt for a healthier alternative instead. Leave your phone at your desk and go for a walk, read a book, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, journal your thoughts, or (my personal favorite as of late!) color in an adult coloring book. There’s this one for faith-based/inspiration, and this one if you’re feeling sassy. (PS: Judge me all you want, but this really works!)
Getting your mind off work and de-stressing in a way that’s constructive and healthy instead of focusing on a screen is imperative for your overall productivity. (Plus, coloring is just fun!)
Featured Image Credit: J. Kelly Brito