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Something I think about a lot is how to get rid of stress. I’m constantly working on multiple projects at once and I’m often thinking about work when I’m not working. I’m well aware that most people think about work constantly as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing. It just means we all have a bad habit of overthinking, over-analyzing, and being stressed out.
It’s even become a social norm to taunt the response of “I’ve been so busy” when someone asks how you’ve been. How did “being busy” become a stamp of pride?
Being busy doesn’t mean that you are important. In fact, some of the most important people I know are incredibly intentional about creating time to think, read, write, and meet with friends. The funny thing is, they most likely get a crazy amount more DONE than the people who claim to be the busiest person in the whole wide world. Claiming to be so busy that you never eat, sleep, or live an enjoyable life is nothing to be proud of.
In other words, your busyness doesn’t make you cool.
But this isn’t a blog post about the lameness of “the busy response.” I’ve already written about that here. Today’s blog post is a list I drafted on an airplane earlier this week on ways I’ve found to reduce stress. I’ve been wanting to make this list for a long time because finding fun little ways to enjoy life is something I enjoy. Also, as someone who finds himself constantly battling against a tendency to feel stress I have to fight this battle head-on, this way I don’t end up with a heart attack at 30 years old.
As a preface before you read through this list, I feel as though I need to clear up a few things. I’m not a health expert. This list is by no means a calculated scientifically-proven way to reduce stress. On this list, there will be controversial items you might not agree with (perhaps something to do with listening to Taylor Swift), if so that’s totally fine. This list is less of an exact step-by-step guide on how to be stress-free, and more of a list of “101 things Heath has done in the past, read about in an article, or stolen from a popular self-help book that helps him be less stressed”. My hope is that a few of these might be helpful for anyone battling with some stress on this wonderful Friday afternoon.
I probably missed some other important piece of information I should have mentioned. This post will probably be controversial as some parts are slightly questionable, but that’s okay. What the hell… life is short. It’s Friday. Stress is overrated. Enjoy.
This is a list of 101 ways I’ve found to help you live life a little less stressed.
Feel free to mix and match. Some of these probably shouldn’t be mixed with others. Some of them, like a good Sonic slushy, should be mixed with others to enhance flavor.
- Go for a walk.
- Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Get a massage.
- Give a massage.
- Focus on your breathing.
- Write down everything that’s stressing you out, and asking yourself, “what is the worst possible thing that could happen. Embrace that worst thing that can happen, acknowledge it as something that could actually happen, and then do your best to begin working towards a better future. (yep, stole this one from Dale Carnegie)
- Go to the gym.
- Go for a run.
- Just jump in a body of water (for the lazy people)
- Swim laps (for the people slightly more athletic)
- Read a book.
- Lay in a hammock.
- Take five minutes and watch a couple of cute cat videos on youtube (but no more than five minutes).
- Take a 20-minute power nap.
- Quit the job that’s stressing you out.
- Cut out the people in your life who are annoying and constantly complain.
- Quit over-analyzing everything.
- When you aren’t at work, concentrate with all your force to not think about things that are work-related.
- Every time you talk about money– have a glass of wine or bar of chocolate nearby. This is non-negotiable.
- Realize life is short, and we will all die soon anyway.
- Think about the big picture. What are you trying to accomplish with your life?
- Think back to all the things you’ve ever stressed about. Did any of those things kill you? Were you able to recover from them? Surely whatever is worrying you now will turn out fine too.
- Acknowledge that “the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself”, thanks to The Alchemist.
- Realize that just being alive is a gift. Lots of people would kill to be alive again.
- Take off your shoes.
- Close your eyes for a minute.
- Put your cell phone on airplane mode so nobody can contact you.
- De-activate your Facebook account for 3 whole days (no need to announce it like this is some noble act). Why? Because constantly comparing ourselves to other people is exhausting and stressful.
- Go on a vacation.
- Find something in the future to look forward to.
- Imagine yourself sitting in a peaceful place.
- Realize that your thoughts control your emotions and stress levels. You cannot feel an emotion without first thinking it. Take control of your thoughts and quit letting them run ramped.
- Read a fiction book before going to bed to help calm your mind.
- Go fishing.
- Learn something new.
- Learn to locate what are the stressors in your life and remove them.
- Quit hanging out with stupid people.
- Hang out with people who are smart, build you up, and aren’t stressed out.
- Cut down all irrelevant expenditures, so even if you make less money you will be able to pay your bills.
- Pay off your debts.
- Don’t borrow money from friends.
- Watch a funny episode of a TV show.
- Spend less time in meetings.
- Quit making to-do lists you never finish.
- Close the 30 browser screens you have running all at the same time.
- Learn to focus on single-tasking.
- Be honest with people so you never have to worry about “someone finding out about you”.
- Do great work.
- Take little breaks throughout the day.
- Volunteer at a local nonprofit who could use your services.
- Ask your friends if you can dog sit (or play with your own animal if you have one).
- Hang out with kids (your own or babysit a friend’s kid). Kids are cool and don’t feel stress the same way we do. They can give us perspective.
- Go play a pickup basketball game.
- Take on fewer clients.
- Quit volunteering for extra assignments at work.
- Only do the work that is 100% necessary for you to do.
- Write down your core values. Compare to your life and see if you’re living in accordance with them. If you’re not living in alignment with them, change what you’re doing.
- Talk with someone who is elderly. They have great stories and usually a slower pace of life. Plus, they can sometimes have a better appreciation for life (as they may not have all that much left).
- Watch a documentary that challenges your thinking and broadens your worldview.
- Lay in the grass outside.
- Go to a theme park.
- Send a nice email to someone you love.
- Write a handwritten letter to someone.
- Buy a meal for a colleague or friend, just because you want them to be happy (and you want to be less stressed).
- Tell someone you love them.
- Listen to Taylor Swift.
- Clear your email inbox.
- Draw a picture with a crayon.
- Listen to Christmas music.
- Bake some fresh chocolate chip cookies.
- Watch a classic feel-good movie like Home Alone (or do a combination of 72-74 for maximum happiness).
- Give a homeless person some money and ask them about their life.
- Live a life that is authentic to yourself.
- Buy a new pair of fresh-smelling Nike’s.
- Swing in a swing.
- Have a paper ball fight.
- Quit comparing yourself to other people.
- Drink less caffeine.
- Eat healthier food.
- Keep a journal.
- Watch an old home movie of yourself or look through some old photos of a fun memory.
- Think of all the people in your life who love you and just how lucky you really are.
- Think back to how far you’ve come in life. You used to a little baby who didn’t understand words or how to stand and today you’ve already learned 85 things you can to decrease stress. You are awesome.
- Try out a new sex position. Why not throw this on the list twice? Buy a copy of the Kama Sutra and realize that sex makes life better and helps decrease stress. Did I mention sex helps take away stress? Okay, wear protection.
- Listen to some stand-up comedy.
- Buy a stand-up desk (or be more financially responsible and just make one yourself).
- Throw a football with a friend.
- Take a long, hot shower.
- Take a bubble bath (yes man, I’m talking to you Chandler Bing-wanna be).
- Quit taking yourself so seriously.
- Realize that everybody has issues, everybody. In the scope of everything happening in the world– what you’re going through probably isn’t that bad.
- Thank God you weren’t born a Kardashian.
- Get more sleep at night.
- Learn how to become a better communicator so you tick off fewer people and can better communicate with your boss/colleagues/friends without getting stressed.
- Lay on the floor.
- Sit Indian style for a few minutes. Focus on your breathing.
- Eat ice cream.
- Go to Sports Clips, buy an MVP, and get them to give you a hair massage.
Life doesn’t have to be filled with stress in order to be meaningful (I’m aware this is a lifelong battle we all fight). Our world is even more prone to constant notifications and interruptions than we’ve ever had before and I believe we all need to be intentional about how much we are living vs. worrying about living.
Take time to breathe, relax, and enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. If you’re anything like me you have a tendency to tell yourself that you can be happy once all the work is done. Screw that. Find a way to be happy in the process and then drink a glass of wine when the work is over. Life is too short to be stressed out.