The summer season is winding down; retailers are beginning to discount their seasonal products, families are getting in one last getaway, and kids are going to be heading back to school. The beginning of Fall can feel a bit hectic, so it really comes as no surprise that August 1st-7th is Simplify Your Life Week. This two-part series will discuss simplifying your life both at home and at work.
If you think about it, most people in developed countries have less to be stressed about than at any other point in human history. With all of our modern gadgets and appliances, life is certainly easier—washing clothes, cooking meals, and even cleaning are all much simpler today than 100 years ago. We’ve also gotten pretty good at preventing and treating a myriad of illnesses and diseases, and traveling is more convenient than ever.
If life is so much easier, then why do as many as one in four adults report being “highly stressed?” As a general population, we have less to worry about; we’re probably not going to die of smallpox, our household machines do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to actual labor around the home, and most of us have easy access to clean water and nutritious food.
There isn’t a single reason for stress, of course. But think about this: the “easier” daily tasks became, the more we began to expect of ourselves. We can travel 30 miles to work on a daily basis, a commute that our great-great-grandparents wouldn’t have even considered, so many of us do. We can get a week’s worth of laundry washed within a few hours’ time, so now we wash clothing after a single wear, rather than 10. Sure, life might technically be easier, but the expectation of what we’re supposed to accomplish has grown exponentially. And let’s not even get started on the stress that 24-hour news, the ability for around-the-clock accessibility and communication, and even social media has brought us!
We can de-stress without moving to a cabin in the woods, though. Here are a few ways to relax and simplify your life.
1. Pinpoint Your Biggest Stressor
You may not be able to change your morning commute time, but you can develop a stress-free morning routine to get your day started out on the right foot. Maybe you can’t make your credit card debt magically disappear, but you might be able to sit down and figure out a realistic budget that allows you to throw a little extra money onto your debt payments each month. Rather than trying to give your whole life a makeover, pinpoint your biggest stressor, and look for a way to minimize it.
2. Stop Complaining
That’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate complaints. Rarely though, do we have to remain victims of circumstance. Case in point: gas might be expensive, and it’s easy to complain about the added expense that it brings to our lives. You may not be able to control gas prices, but you can control how much driving you do. Instead of complaining, learn to streamline your outings and drive only as much as you need to.
3. Say “Yes” to Less
When someone asks us for a favor or invites us to an event, we hate saying no. However, overextending yourself heaps unnecessary stress into your life, and in most cases, “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer; no explanations needed.
When things get stressful, turn off the noise: forget about your social media feed, turn off the television, and exit out of your mindless gaming app that you automatically pull up every time you have a free moment. While it may seem like these things would relax you, the constant busyness and “noise” of them can actually be draining.
This Fall, take some extra time to consider your biggest stressors and figure out how you can reduce or remove them and simplify your life.