I’m willing to bet that something is stressing you out right now. Is it bills? Maybe you’re frustrated with work? Is the current political climate making you anxious? For me, it’s all the above and more, and sadly I’m not alone. According to the American Psychological Association’s 2016 Stress in America survey, 31% of Americans say their stress levels have increased in the past year and 21% report experiencing extreme levels of stress.

Stress is known to cause fatigue, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. It can also impact productivity and your ability to concentrate. Trying to decrease your stress levels is one of the best things you can do for yourself, it’s up there with flossing and exercise.

Manage to-do list expectations

I have a habit of creating very ambitious to-do lists. They’re the kinds that have 15+ items ranging from “do laundry” to “develop a marketing strategy” and everything in between. I rarely get through 2 items before bed. I used to beat myself up over the fact that I didn’t accomplish everything on my list and I would stress out because I was never going to get my life together. It’s taken some time, but now rather than stressing over what I still have left on my to-do list at the end of the day, I’ve decided to celebrate what I do manage to accomplish. Focusing on what you have done rather than what still needs to get done quiets that little voice in your head that is constantly reminding you that you’re lazy and when that happens you will be surprised by how much your stress levels decrease (at least I was).

Remember your plan

One of my biggest stressors is debt. It’s the thing I worry the most about every day. I’m actively working to pay it all off, but sometimes I forget that I have a plan. It’s not a get-out-of-debt-quick type of plan; it’s the work-my-ass-off-and-implement-the-snowball-method plan. I’m confident it will work, it’s just that sometimes I get a little antsy. Getting out of debt is a very slow process, and there are days when I get discouraged. Sometimes it feels like I’m not making any progress. I know that’s now true. I’m not progressing at the rate that I would like, but I’m not stagnant, and that’s what’s I need to remember.

Go for a walk

Walking is my preferred form of exercise, but it’s also one of my favorite ways to just clear my head. On a long walk, stress starts to melt away, and I find myself coming up with solutions to problems rather than moping. If long walks aren’t your thing, then hit the mat or pick up some free weights. The point is exercise. And if you’re wondering, it’s so much better than retail therapy.

Image DTS