How to Start the Year Less Stressed

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New Year, New Me! screams every headline at me. Whether I'm at the grocery store, browsing online, or even scrolling through my Instagram, these four words seem to yell at me no matter where I turn this month. It only makes sense, January is the beginning of the year and a time when people put forward their best step. For me, I'm quite happy (actually elated is a better word) of how well 2017 went and so I have no fear that the 'old me' is somehow going to ruin 2018. This mantra may help others, and I commend you on that, but for me and others who are simply stressed out by them, I'd rather focus on eliminating the stress from my life this year. 

If there's anything I learned in 2017, by not adding drama, tension, or unnecessary stress to your life, it's actually quite enjoyable. I'm not saying that stress can be erased and nothing traumatic or dramatic will happen this year, and there are ways to handle those situations, but can't we all agree that we'd like things to be a little less stressful? Trust me, I learned the hard way what could happen when you add unnecessary stress and it's not fun. Lack of sleep, exercise, and poor eating was driving me insane, all because I couldn't handle my stress. 

Well I've wised up and I'm here to share my easy, very doable ways of starting your year a little less stressed. Doesn't that sound pleasant?

1. Get Your Sh*t in Order

First things first ladies, get your house in order. I'm not just talking about your physical home. Get everything in order. Whether that's completely cleaning your home, donating old clothes, getting your filing cabinet in order (thank you snowmagadden for making me conquer that task), or simply tackling your finances. Get it in order. Trust me. January is the time to do this and it'll make your year a little less stressful. 

Since our filing cabinet is re-organized and items filed correctly, we won't be scrambling during tax season. Gifts from Christmas have been put away and just as I do every year, I donated two huge bags of clothes and accessories to make room for the new goodies I received over the holidays. 

Get. It. In. Order. 

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2. Say No

Saying no has to be the hardest thing to learn and say in life. We are so eager to impress others that we ultimately sacrifice our own wellness. Learn to say no. Yes, it's intimidating to start saying no, so start small.

Do you want sugar in your coffee? Say no. Also, your body will thank you for that one.

Do you want to go out tonight? Don't feel up to it? Say no (obviously politely of course, this is not an excuse to be rude).  

Work your way up so when you do have to say no to things like at work, it's easier. Rule of thumb here gals, back up your no with an alternative. So when you do have to turn down something at work and you've got a killer alternative that could save the company time and money, they'll thank you. 

3. Plan Accordingly

Let me share a little detail into my life at one point. I was running myself crazy going from work, to plans with friends, to the gym, and then adding an event (or two, or three) on top of an already crazy schedule. I started to feel sluggish, my body wasn't functioning properly, and I felt like I wasn't connecting with P or my friends when I did see them. 

That's so not cool. 

Since then, I've drastically cut back on events that I attend and instead supplement the time I would have been at an event and instead gotten dinner with a friend, had the girls over for snacks and wine, or planned a gym date with P or a friend. I felt less stressed and was doing something for my well being. 

The moral of this story?

Plan accordingly and make time for what's important. Is it cool to go to those events and see "influential" people? Sure. But do you really want to know what's important and way better? Time with people that you love and can share memories with. I'll take a glass of wine in my pjs with my best friends over a night out any day. 

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4. Wake Up Earlier

This is something I've started implementing this year and so far, I'm loving it! Just by waking up an extra 20 minutes early I'm able to spend that time slowly waking up, check what I want online, all before I truly have to get up and begin getting ready for work. 

And you know what? 

It makes my mornings way less stressful. I'm not running late trying to get ready faster or throw together my gym bag. Instead, while P is showering, I can take my leisurely time waking up so by the time I'm finished getting ready, we can eat breakfast together and I can slowly do things I need done around the house that morning. 

I'd love to get to a point where I'm up even earlier but at this point, 20 minutes earlier is just right for me. Find your sweet spot. 

5. Make Time for Exercise

I always feel my worst when I haven't exercised. Isn't that funny? I sleep better, feel more energetic, and have a much better outlook on life when I work out. 

Do you want to know how I do it? 

I make time in my day for it. Whether it's going right after work or taking a mid-day lunch break to go run at my gym, I make it part of my daily routine. 

Remember when I talked about goals and intentions for this year? So far it's sticking all because I've made time for my goals. Try doing the same for yourself! 

6. Set a Bedtime Routine

This is by far the best thing I've done to reduce my stress. If there's one thing I won't budge on, is my bedtime. I know, I sound like I'm 5 but hear me out. For me, my bedtime isn't about washing my face and falling right to sleep. My bedtime schedule focuses on taking time for me. 

That means, washing my face, applying lotion (because let's face it, I'm 65 inside), watching a favorite TV show with P in bed or reading a book, and truly unplugging from the world. 

I'm about to shock you again. 

I go to bed at 9pm every. single. weeknight. Heck, even most weekends I do so as well! 

Now 9 may not work for everyone so find that perfect time for you and stick to it. I have found that I feel less stressed and relaxed when I have a bedtime routine. Plus think about it this way, the more rested you are, the better your day will be tomorrow! 

7. Find Your Peace

We have those little things that cause us to stress out. Bills, schedules, uncomfortable conversations, whatever. I have found over the past year to find my inner peace and handle things one at a time. For me this included taking decisions more into consideration, not jumping to conclusions, and talking to others before making final decisions about big things. 

And you know what, my stress went down considerably. 

What are things currently in your life that make your uncomfortable or stressed? Tackle them head on, learn from them, and finally, remove them from your life. 

Bills got you down?

Put it on auto-pay. 

Have an uncomfortable conversation coming up?

Bite the bullet first. Chances are, the other person is also stressed out and hoping for a positive outcome. Don't let the mounting tension make it worse than it has to be. 

We make life more stressful than it has to be. Simplify things by tackling what you can, handle with care with others, and remove things that make life stressful. Trust me, it's a hard road at first, but once the path clears, life is much more enjoyable. 

Wearing: Dress / Purse / Sunglasses

Photography: Nicole Mickle