cup of coffee on a table at an outdoor cafe

Daily Habits to Reduce Stress

Stress is part of everyday life for most of us. When life gets hectic and stress piles up, we can easily feel overwhelmed. Learning to combat stress before it gets to that point is key. Learning to build daily habits to reduce stress can make your life run smoother and you can enjoy more.

Daily habits to reduce stress

Stop stress before it starts

While having habits in place to reduce stress is important, why not try to avoid added stress altogether? I know it’s not possible to not have any stress in your life. Maybe if you’re a hermit living in the woods. But since most of us have work and family and you know, lives, stress is there.

You can’t control everything in your life to eliminate stress, but if you avoid some things, you can manage the level of stress you’re exposed to.

Reduce Caffeine

Ah, the nectar of the gods…just kidding. I’m not even a coffee drinker. I will have a cup of hot tea when I’m sick or super cold. My drink of choice is Diet Coke. I drink a lot of it. (like a lot, a lot). And although there is caffeine in it, it’s nowhere near as much as a cup of coffee. I’ve had people argue me on this, so I looked it up: 12 oz of coffee = 140 mg, Diet Coke = 46mg.

I’m not saying this to brag because there are many times I wish I drank coffee. It smells so good. And yes, diet pop is filled with chemicals and fake sweeteners.

I bring this up not because I think you need to abandon coffee – you won’t convince me to give up Diet Coke. But you do need to manage it. Cutting it out completely is hard. I know people who have done it and it’s no joke, but they’re happy once they get past the hard part.

I do think you need to be aware of the effects too much caffeine has on your body. It can give you a surge of adrenaline, which seems awesome first thing in the morning. But then it can come with a crash, which can cause your stress hormone levels to rise. It can be a roller coaster of highs and lows. This is not to mention how it can disrupt your sleep, which adds to your stress.

So, enjoy your morning cup of coffee, but monitor your intake for the day to help reduce stress. Maybe switch to decaf if you want the taste. Like many things in life, moderation is key.

Have a daily routine

At some point, you might get tired of me telling you this. I know my kids mimic me whenever I mention a routine. However, as they’ve all gotten to adulthood (or close to it), they’ve realized that I was right. Having a routine keeps you on track. You know what to do and what to expect, which reduces stress.

Building a daily routine takes time, but the benefits are worth it.

Avoid procrastination

Procrastination is one of the biggest culprits for many people. And I’m well aware that right now, you might be looking at me and thinking Duh…but if I could do that, would I be hanging out here now?

Procrastination has many causes. One is poor time management. That daily routine I mentioned above is a key to helping with that. Many people with executive dysfunction are time blind. They aren’t running late because they don’t care or respect your time. They really don’t know how long things take.

If you’re the type of person who is always late and has to apologize for holding things up, that adds to your stress. Part of your routine, especially in the beginning will be to set reminders and alarms to keep you on track.

a pile of colorful alarm clocks

Another cause of procrastination comes from self-doubt. If you have a task or project that you’re unsure about, you push it off. You’re afraid that you won’t be able to do it as well as you want to or should. Then, because you pushed off starting it, it hangs over your head as reminder and you feel bad. Your anxiety spikes because you realize you might not make the deadline, which causes your stress to go off the charts.

Then, it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophesy. You didn’t think you could handle it and do a good job and the final result might not be as good as you wanted it to be. Those negative thoughts come back with a fury of I told you so’s.

Learning to manage your time will be helping you reduce your stress. If you start the task earlier then you have time to learn or make adjustments or ask for help. You won’t run late or risk missing a deadline.

Don’t overbook

Being overly busy is another factor that causes stress. We have a lot going on with work and the kids and the house. We often have a hard time saying no to things like being team mom or running a bake sale for the PTA.  We want to do it all.

But there are only so many hours in the day. You need to learn to pick and choose what is really feasible for you to take on. Sometimes, the answer has to be no.  If you don’t learn the magic of no, then you run the risk of adding to the cycle of stress.

You will be stressed because you have so much to do and not enough time to do it. Then, you’ll be stressed because there will be things that won’t get done.

Be realistic about your schedule and prioritize the tasks you need to accomplish.

cup of coffee on a table at an outdoor cafe

Unplug and relax

Yeah, this is another duh moment. But it bears repeating. You need to be able to walk away from things that cause stress and include things in your life that make you happy.

Most people are constantly attached to their phones. They have notifications pinging nonstop. There is no break from people contacting you and expecting an immediate response. That doesn’t even touch on the negative impact social media can have on you.

The inundation of constant information and being connected all the time is overwhelming. Giving up your phone won’t happen. I don’t expect it to. But you can turn off notifications. You can plug it in to charge in another room and do other things.

An important step in unplugging is to give yourself something else to do. Try a new hobby or re-engage in an old one. Take a walk and listen to music. Read a book you’ve been meaning to check out.

Here are some other hobbies you might want to try:

  • Create a comic about your life. This can work like a journal to help you process the stress you’re dealing with.
  • Color. I’m sure you’ve noticed the adult coloring books that have hit the market. If you don’t want to waste money on a book if you’re not sure you’ll like coloring, check out the cheap coloring pages I have in my shop.
  • Play video games. There are a gazillion games out there that you can play. Find one that you like and meet people to play with. You can form a whole new community.
  • Paint. You don’t need to be an artist. Like a coloring book, painting on a canvas can be relaxing. It gives you something to focus on and you feel productive because you’re creating something.
  • Learn to cook or bake. I’ve always been a stress baker. Whether it’s handling a life situation or plot problem for a book, baking a batch of cookies takes my mind off it and gives the family a homemade treat. And more often than not, by the time I’m done, my brain has worked through the problem.
  • Meditate. There are plenty of guided meditations for you to experiment with. Meditation helps you practice mindfulness and it can be very relaxing.
  • Journal. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, writing your thoughts and emotions down can help process them. Journals can take any form that makes the most sense to you. Once you start journaling, it becomes not only a place to write what’s happening now but also to reflect on the past.

There is no magic cure for stress. However, if you start to develop daily habits to reduce stress, you will be healthier and happier. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Let go of what doesn’t work and expand on the things that do.

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