Americans are stressed out.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 44 percent of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago, three out of four doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments, and 44 percent of stressed people lose sleep every night. The effects of stress can be devastating to health – physically, emotionally, and psychologically. But you didn’t really need to me to quote statistics about stress to know that you are stressed, did you? You know it; we all know it. The pace of modern life, the overwhelming amount of information and technology, the work load on the job, not to mention the violence of daily news, both here and abroad, make for a culture of unending stress.
The question is, what do we do about it?
We cannot reduce our exposure to stress in every area of life, but we can change our circumstances and environment to some extent. We can change the things we have control over. As a professional organizer, I have a unique perspective. I help people reduce their stress by simplifying their lives. Living simply in all areas of life is one of the best ways I know to decrease stress and increase happiness. How do I help my clients accomplish this? You can simplify in three main areas: your stuff, your schedule and your relationships. Stuff is the easiest to deal with; relationships are the most difficult.
Simplify Your Stuff
According to researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families, the more stuff we own, the more stress we feel, especially for women. The more we fill our homes with possessions, the more our bodies pump out the stress hormone, cortisol. When we reach the point that our clutter controls us, it becomes a burden. Do you have a room in your home that feels out of control? Does your entire house feel out of control? If you are feeling that stress, it’s definitely time to simplify. Your solution is to get rid of things you don’t want or need, things that are not adding value or worth to your life. The more you give away, the better you will feel. I’ve seen this happen countless times when working with clients. Reduce your stuff, reduce your stress.
Simplify Your Schedule
Another area of life that can overwhelm us is our schedules. Many people wear their busy schedule as a badge of honor. I hear them say, “Life is busy. I just can’t keep up. My schedule is so full.” I feel like it’s the American way, to always be busy. But are we truly happy when we are so busy? What about taking time to reflect and think about who we are, rather than what we do? If you are feeling the pressure of your schedule, stop for a moment and think about why you are so busy. Don’t worry about what other people do or say. The pace of your life does not have to be at break-neck speed. It could be just a stage that will pass. We all have times that everything seems to happen all at once. But if you are constantly “on the go” and don’t see relief in sight, your solution is to let go of tasks and commitments that do not line up with your life priorities. Make time for fun, family, and relaxation.
Simplify Your Relationships
People can also be a source stress. When simplifying your relationships, I’m not talking about selling your children to the highest bidder! I’m thinking of the people in your life that you can choose to not associate with – the bossy mom in your toddler’s play group, the negative co-worker that always hangs out in the lunch room, or the angry dry-cleaning lady. As you identify stressful people, find ways that you can “take a break” from seeing them. Find a different play group, eat a short lunch at your desk and then take a walk with your favorite co-worker, or drive an extra five miles to do business with a cheerful dry cleaner. Your solution is to say goodbye to people that stress you out and to surround yourself with people that inspire and lift you up. I know this is not possible in every case, but you might find that you have more choice in this area than you realize.
What is your stress level? Are you feeling overwhelmed by your stuff, your schedule or your relationships?
Simplifying can reduce stress and bring you more freedom and peace. Getting organized in these three areas could bring you more sleep, save you a trip to the doctor, and in the end, lessen your overall stress. May God bless you with discernment as you make decisions to reduce your stress, and let me know if I can be of service as your professional organizer.