Small changes can add up to reduce your stress

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Tiny changes can cancel a lot of stress, if you plan your strategies.

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You likely are feeling more pressure in your life than ever before. Consider all of the minor changes you can make to reverse the heaviness. Tiny changes can cancel a lot of stress, if you plan your strategies.

For example, ask yourself how you can save a small amount of time each day. Or, figure out how to manage certain relationships that drain you.

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“I’m a working mother with three kids under the age of 10,” said a retail store executive we’ll call Eva.

“My life, quite frankly, has become unmanageable,” she said. “I know I must take control. But, every time I try to make a change, two more stressful events happen. I can feel the pressure in my chest, and I’m down to my last nerve.”

Eva, like many of us, has a juggling act that takes so much time, it’s hard to stop and adjust. Where do you find the time to even think about changes?

These tips can help:

Start with sleep. Create a ritual for winding down before you go to bed. Don’t go over your to-do list and don’t watch a horror film. Sit in a chair for 15 minutes before lying down. Do some deep breathing and relax so you’ll fall asleep faster.

Hire someone to help you. For example, hire someone to mow all of your yard. Or, if money is tight, hire someone to mow just the front part. Your goal is to save just an hour or two each week.

Delegate a few tasks at work or at home. Ask a co-worker to make just two calls each day for you, if possible. Or, ask your spouse to fold or hang just one load of laundry. Try to delegate at least 15 minutes of work per day. In a month’s time, this equals 450 minutes, or 7½ hours, per month of extra assistance

Exercise at least 15 minutes two times a day. Physical exercise helps to nurture every square inch of you. You’ll be healthier, and you’ll have more energy. Exercising for 15 minutes twice each day equals 15 hours of exercise per month.

Find 20 minutes of quiet time each day. This might mean you’ll get up a little early to drink your coffee alone. Or, you’ll put the kids to bed early so you can soak in the tub. Keeping your mind quiet for just a small amount of time will clear your head. Again, you’ll have more energy.

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Making lots of small changes is more doable than trying to change your entire schedule. Hiring someone to help mow, clean or help with the kids is better than depending on friends and relatives.

“I’ve hired a cleaning lady every other Tuesday,” a banker we’ll call Deborah said. “She comes just three hours to vacuum, dust and clean the worst parts of my kitchen and two baths. I pay her $25 per hour or $150 per month. Now, I can’t imagine life without her.”

Once you get the idea of how much impact a small change makes, you’ll be on the lookout for what’s possible to change. It’s all a matter of getting creative and having hard-core determination to get rid of some stress.

“Instead of worrying about pleasing everyone, start pleasing yourself,” said a real estate agent we’ll call Jeffrey. “Do sit down in the evening by yourself to read a good book. Do go for a little drive on Saturday mornings all by yourself. Tell your family you need some personal time. Feeling a little more control, bit by bit, is key. It’s enjoyable to take back this control.”

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