Ironically, I am writing this article at the end of a very stressful week. But at the same time, isn’t this perfect timing? Because as I write about easy ways to simplify your life and have a “stress less” week, I can remind myself of these tips, too.
So, while I can’t guarantee a “stress less” week for you, I am hopeful that with these five tips, you’ll certainly stress less and know how to simplify life.
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Simplifying Your Life: Why Less Is More
Busyness is a pandemic in our world. Because our society values achievement and success above most else, we’re told the key to happiness is doing more. How can you achieve more? How can you find success and push yourself to the max?
But as someone who has listened to the world’s narrative far too long, I can now say confidently—No. The answer to life and happiness is never being busier or taking on more.
Our worth is not defined by our achievements, and the key to doing more is really doing less.
How can I make my life less stressful?
When we have more on our plate than we can handle, we might feel a sense of accomplishment because the world encourages us to do more. Busyness, achievement, success—those things will make us happy. But aren’t we also overwhelmed? Staring at an overcommitted calendar and wondering how we’re going to get it all done?
Perhaps, we result to multitasking, which just divides our attention and makes us less productive. Or we start sacrificing basic self-care in order to check off more on our to-do list. We push to the side the very basic care we need to function and stay healthy—sleep, laundry, cooking, eating, rest—so that we can do more.
But without this self-care, we have less energy, less concentration, and less judgment. Whatever we manage to do, we often do poorly because we haven’t taken care of ourselves. Thus, doing less is an easy way to simplify your life, and the bonus, is that it makes your life less stressful.
At the same time, it’s the doing less part that’s often the most difficult.
How does getting rid of things simplify life?
One of my favorite books on simplifying your life is Essentialism: the pursuit of less. The book demonstrates how to simplify your life by getting rid of things that aren’t absolutely essential. It provides this great illustration of how we can accomplish more when we focus our energy on a few things instead of dividing our energy amongst countless activities.
Think about it. If we have 50 hours of free time each week and 25 activities to which we’ve committed, then we can only spend 2 hours on each activity. As a result, we will make minimal progress because we can only dedicate a small portion of our time and energy to each one.
On the flip side, if we have 50 hours of free time, but only 10 commitments, then we have a whopping 5 hours to dedicate to each task. That’s more than double what we had before. We can spend more time on each task and accomplish more because our focus and attention remains on one activity longer.
The world will tell you that you have to do everything. They will entice you with a promise of happiness, but you’ll end up worn out and exhausted instead.
At the essence of a simplified life is essentialism, only choosing to commit to things that are essential and important to you.
Easy Ways To Simplify Your Life
Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing only the essential. Perhaps a busy week comes up and there is only so much we can eliminate. What do you do then?
To prepare for a busy week, follow these 5 easy ways to simplify your life and turn a busy week into a week to stress less.
1 – Meal Plan
Have you ever stood in your kitchen opening and closing the fridge door hoping that something new would appear? I certainly have! Being hungry and not knowing what to eat is guaranteed to add stress to your week. Thankfully, the solution is simple.
At the start of the week, grab a piece of paper and make a table. Write the days of the week across the top and breakfast, lunch, and dinner down the first column. Now fill in what you plan to eat throughout the week. You can do this after scouting your fridge and pantry to see what you have on hand.
|Day / Meal||Sunday||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday||Saturday|
Don’t overthink this activity. It can be as simple as smoothie for Sunday breakfast or spaghetti for dinner on Tuesday. But this meal plan will be something you can refer to throughout the week. That way, when you get home from work on Tuesday night, you won’t be stressed trying to figure out what you should make or if you have enough ingredients to make anything. You’ll look at your list and start whipping up spaghetti.
During this exercise, you’ll also know if you need to go to the grocery store. The only thing more stressful than not knowing what to cook when you’re hungry is not having enough ingredients to make anything. Make a plan to go to the store now. Your stomach will thank you later (as will your stress levels).
2 – Make Sleep a Priority
How to stress less? SLEEP!
You are not yourself when you don’t have enough sleep. Or you’re a less productive, more cranky version of yourself. (Speaking from experience here.)
If you don’t get enough sleep before your work week starts, you’ll be playing catch-up the rest of the week. And despite your best efforts, you can’t catch up on sleep. Sleepy minds leave us frazzled and unproductive. Your best bet is to start the week off with a good snooze, so you feel rested throughout the week.
3 – Prioritize your To-Do Lists and Be Ruthless
I am a huge advocate of To-Do Lists as it’s an easy way to simplify your life and give you direction during the day. When you write things down, you’re also more likely to remember it later if you do get stressed.
In order to have a “stress less” week, I recommend taking things a step further. Instead of just writing a to-do list, prioritize it. Grab another piece of paper and divide it into three columns. Title the columns, Must Do, Would Like to Do, Don’t Need to Do. Take the items from your to-do list and put them under each heading.
|Must Do||Would Like to Do||Don’t Need to Do|
|What absolutely has to get done||These are things you would like to do, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t complete them.||These are things that aren’t priorities at all.|
Be ruthless in your assessment. You should only have a select few items in your Must Do column. If you have more than 5 items, then do the exercise again, being more ruthless this time.
The goal of this exercise is to show you that you should only be worried about getting the Must Do items done. If the other items have to wait a day or a week or even a month, that’s okay. If you end up having time to do things in the other columns, we’ll consider it a bonus.
Don’t count yourself a failure if you don’t get everything in each column checked off—that will just add stress. Instead focus your energy on the items Must Do items first.
4 – Schedule in Down Time (or at least expect it)
One thing that makes a week so stressful is not giving ourselves breaks. In our culture, breaks are seen as a sign of weakness. Why not drink an energy drink and keep going? If you need a break, then you’re not working hard enough.
Enough is enough. A mind only remains so sharp without time to recharge. We need time to unwind, destress, let our hair down, and relax.
So if you’re staring at a calendar packed with commitments and activities, ask yourself when you’re going to rest. When will you have some downtime?
For example, I try to have a 15 minute break in the morning and the afternoon during my workday. Once I wrap up at the end of the day, I take at least a 30 minute break to unwind before hopping on my personal computer to start blogging and writing.
Breaks are not a sign of weakness. We are humans and we have limits. Acknowledging them is how we remain productive and reenergize ourselves.
5 – Outsource, outsource, outsource
In a talk about maintaining a healthy work life balance, one of the executives at my company mentioned outsourcing. At first, it was something I stayed away from, but as my life got bogged down in To-Do’s, I decided to give it another look.
How should I prepare for a busy week?
Outsourcing is a great way to prepare for a busy week and an easy way to simplify your life. What outsourcing does is take the tasks or activities that are time-consuming, tedious, or unpleasant for you and outsources them to someone else or another company. Many companies, for example, will outsource their IT to another company to handle all IT related needs.
In the same way, you can outsource things in your life and your business. For example, for a really busy week, I will outsource grocery shopping. Instead of spending time in the aisles myself, I’ll make my selections online and just go pick up the groceries. On my blog, I also outsource. My beautiful graphics and designs on Pinterest are made by a graphic artist because it’s an unpleasant, time consuming task for me. This outsourcing allows me to spend more time on what I do enjoy—writing and blogging.
So to help you prepare for a busy, try these tips to simplify your life: meal planning, getting enough sleep, prioritizing, scheduling down-time, and outsourcing.
6 – BONUS: Pray for Wisdom in Simplifying Your Life
I often overlook this easy way to simplify your life, but it is so powerful. Prayer helps me find perspective in a week that feels overwhelming by connecting me back to Jesus Christ. I’m reminded that God does not judge me based on my works—how many good deeds I do or how many blog posts I write for Him. In fact, God’s truth is counter-culture.
It’s not how much we do that he cares about, but that our hearts are pointed toward him and full of his love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
If you’re having a stressful week, have you prayed yet? It’s never too late, and as a child of God, the power of prayer is yours. Ask God to give you the strength to get through this week and the discernment to know what is truly essential for you to do this week and what can wait.
“Stress Less” Week Ideas
These tips to simplify your life are great for preparing for a busy week. Getting rid of things makes your week less stressful, too. But what about if you’re already in a stressful week? How can you stress less?
A lot of the tips above can be used as “stress less” week ideas, too. So even if you’re in the thick of things, you can take these easy ways to simplify your life and apply them to help you stress less.
How to Stress Less
For me, stress is triggered when I have a long to-do list and I’m feeling the pressure. I have no idea how I’m going to fit in everything I have to do in such little time.
The solution is in removing the two words “have to.” Oftentimes, we feel like there are so many have to’s on our to-do list. But that’s the narrative of a culture obsessed with accomplishments and achievements in hopes of success and happiness.
This is not the narrative you have to believe. Take an inventory of your to-list and be honest with yourself. What can wait?
If it can wait, then take it off of your to-do list for this week. Tell yourself that you are not a failure if you don’t get everything done now. In fact, it’s smarter to spend your energy on the most pressing things and then rest so you can tackle other things later.
How do I get over stress in a week?
Another way to cut down the have to’s on your list is to contemplate the consequences of not getting something done. Will it impede other people from completing their work? Is there someone else that can step in and help? What commitments have I made to other people that I don’t want to break?
Filling up a to-do list is, in my opinion, the easiest thing. Narrowing it down into what is essential and prioritizing are the more difficult parts. But by doing this, we are acknowledging that we are limited beings, and we can’t do it all.
Once you accept that, you will have a more “stress less” week. After all, there will be much less to stress about.
Stress Relief Tips: How do I relax after a stressful week?
No matter how we simplify our lives, stress is a part of life, and it likely won’t be going away anytime soon. Narrowing down my to-do list always helps me stress less, but there are other stress relief tips I follow to relieve stress, too.
Here are a few things you can do to relax after a stressful day or week.
- Take a Bubble Bath
- Do Yoga / Stretching or low impact exercises
- Go for a Run – Exercise helps some people destress
- Order in / Get Take out – Sometimes it’s been a long week, and you don’t want to cook. So don’t!
- Call a Friend and Catch up
- Take a Nap
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and do nothing
- Read a book
- Do a Journal Activity with Reflective Journal Prompts
- Take a break from Social Media and screens
- Go to the park / Go on a Walk – Spend some time outside and get some fresh air.
- Count 4 Breathing – Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds (repeat).
- Spend time in God’s Word and Praying
Stress Less Activities
Another stress relief tip is to do an activity that doesn’t cause you any stress. These activities will be different for each person depending on what triggers stress for them. For example, cooking and baking is really relaxing for some people, but if you have to hunt for special ingredients all around town or you hate washing dishes afterward, then this can quickly turn into a stressful task.
Try some different “stress less activities” to see what works for you. The activity doesn’t necessarily have to be calming, it just shouldn’t add any additional stress.
Here are some “stress less” day activities:
- Reading – When’s the last time you read something for fun? Steer clear of politics, self-help, and critical thinking books. Just read to read and enjoy.
- Baking – Make your favorite treat. Knead your hands into some dough. Flip some pancakes on the griddle.
- Stretching – For some people, different types of exercising can help them relax. My go-to for a stress less activity is five to 10 minutes of static stretching. I don’t follow a routine, I just stretch.
- Make a Playlist – Spend some time checking out the newest releases from your favorite artists and make a new playlist.
- Dance party – Use that new playlist and have a dance party in your living room. Dance like no one is watching. It doesn’t matter how you look or if you can’t keep the rhythm (I surely can’t). Just dance!
- Watch an old TV episode – As my favorite TV show is Friends, I can always count on a 22-minute Friends episode to be stressless. I know what’s going to happen, and I’ll have a lot of laughs along the way.
- Drink a cup of tea
- Organize your books, CDs, clothes, photos, etc.
Stress Free Weekend
If you’re in need of more stress relief tips, schedule in some self-care time and have a whole stress free weekend. Take some time to rest, rejuvenate, and make the conscious decision to not stress about things outside of your control.
If it’s not on your must do list, don’t stress about it either. Hit the reset button, get some sleep, and dial down the stress with a more simple life and a smaller to-do list.
Simplify Your Life and Stress Less
What was your last week like? Was it stressful, stress less, or somewhere in between? No matter your answer, what happened last week doesn’t get to determine how this week goes. Stress is a part of our lives, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. But each week is its own week, a new page, and a new chapter.
Hopefully, these stress relief tips and insights on how to simplify your life inspire you to pursue less. I wish you the best as you take these easy ways to simplify your life and have, what I hope is, a more “stress less” week.
How do you destress at the end of the day?
Leave me a comment below!
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