Five Small Stress Reducers



I’m always looking for small things that make a big difference, so I started thinking about the small (well, smallish) things I do that keep me on an even keel.


Here are some of my favorite stress-relievers:


Use Your Vacation Days


Did you know that more than half of Americans didn’t use their paid vacation days last year? Tragic, considering that the U.S. falls drastically behind other developed nations in allotted time off. I recently visited the UK, and for comparison, nearly all workers there are entitled to more than FIVE WEEKS of vacation (not including all those bank holidays). 


As we all know, I love to travel – from Bogota to the Great Barrier Reef, nothing helps me hit my physical and mental “reset” button more than a trip abroad. And that wouldn’t be possible without vacation time. So, even if you can’t leave town, use your vacation time. Take some time to yourself, do what you love, and get back to the desk refreshed and less stressed than you were before you left. 


Shift Your Day


Years ago, I had a boss who would show up to work an hour early every day, take an hour lunch, and then leave at a reasonable hour. I remember he always seemed very efficient and was calm no matter what kind of fire we had to put out that day: from angry clients to power outages, nothing could faze him.


The key to his unflappableness, he said, was arriving at work an hour before everyone else. That gave him uninterrupted time to plan his day, wrap up any remaining work from the previous afternoon, and make sure his team was on task.


Turn Off Notifications


How many times a day does your screen light up with a notification from Facebook, the New York Times, or even your doorbell? When smartphones were in their infancy, we got one or two notifications a day. Now we can get 30 or more. It’s deafening. 


I recently turned off my notifications just so that I could focus on a particular project and didn’t want the distractions. I finished the project months ago, but the absence of all the pings and buzzes was so nice that I never turned them back on. 


I highly recommend this.


Get Your Flu Shot


Many offices offer a free or inexpensive flu shot clinic, so take advantage of the opportunity to inoculate! The flu in itself is stressful – from chills to body aches to restless nights, it knocks you out in a big way. Pair that with the stress of missing work for a week, and you get a recipe for the kind of anxiety that keeps you feeling exhausted long after the flu is conquered.


Now that we’re entering flu season, make your wellness a priority. Sleep, water, healthy food, exercise – all of it is important. The flu shot is an important, but overlooked, ingredient in your winter wellness plan.


Light a Candle


There’s something about candlelight that has a calming effect. To me, the natural light creates a space that’s a complete 180 from the harsh fluorescents of my office. Bonus points if that candle has a soothing scent: lavender, lilac, eucalyptus and chamomile are my favorites. I even have lavender-scented hand soap in my kitchen. 


Speaking of chamomile, drinking some chamomile tea, green tea or any blend of “sleepy-time” tea is a great anytime soother. Pair it with a candle and some quiet music (or your favorite sitcom), and you’ve got an instant retreat.


On to you: What are some of your stress relief go-tos? Do any of the ones listed above work for you? Share in the comments!