About 10 years ago, I made the decision to simplify my life. Initially this was driven by logistics, as my husband and I had moved from London to Sydney, and into a tiny apartment with absolutely no storage. But soon keeping my life simple and as stress free as possible became a way of life.
With morning walks by the harbor and a short stroll from the bedroom to the living room as my daily "commute," I had plenty of time both to think and not think, and for the first time in years I found myself with a calm and quiet mind.
After the toxic cocktail of adrenaline and cortisol that had been coursing through my veins during my past life in the corporate world, this new state could only be described as bliss.
I've long given up the pseudo-excitement of a high-stress life and I am so much happier and healthier for it.
Here are 10 easy ways you can reduce the stress in your life:
1. Live in the moment.
Just because there are still things you want to do or have doesn't mean you can't enjoy your life as it is right now.
Living in the moment doesn't mean you get to be careless or reckless about the future, it simply means that right here, right now is where you place the majority of your attention.
2. Recharge your batteries.
When you live a busy life, it's important to take time out to unwind. Regularly.
Rather than waiting until your stress levels are at their peak, make time each day to sit quietly and relax, regardless of whether or not you feel like you need to.
3. Learn to say no.
Don't try to be all things to all people. It's OK to say "no" sometimes. In fact, it's OK to say "no" whenever you want to.
When someone asks you to do something, swallow your instant reply and ask yourself, Is this something I want to do, something I need to do or something I have to do? If you can't answer "yes" to any of these questions, your answer is definitely "no."
4. Do your best.
Stop trying to be perfect. There really is no such thing as perfection. It's entirely subjective, which makes it an impossible goal.
Instead make the commitment to simply do your best. Then relax, confident in the knowledge that even if your best is sometimes a little bit average, it is always good enough.
5. Learn to breathe.
Not only is worry exhausting for your mind, it also has a debilitating effect on the body. When you find your mind turning and churning, stop for a moment and feel the effects these cyclical thoughts have on your body.
Instead of letting your mind run in exhaustive circles, start to breathe slowly and evenly. Let the calm return to your mind and the strength return to your body.
6. Dump your endless to-do list.
Stop worrying about all the things you should be doing, procrastinating about the things you don't want to be doing or kicking yourself for things that you should have done.
Instead of being a slave to an endless to-do list, do the things that matter now, and dump or delegate the rest.
7. See the upside.
There will always be two ways to see everything you experience in life: the upside and the downside.
Rather than focusing on what is wrong, disappointing or frustrating about a given situation, watch your stress levels decrease as you focus on discovering what is right.
8. Clear the clutter.
It's much easier to have a calm, clear mind when you live in a calm, clear environment, so don't hold onto things you don't want or need.
Ask yourself if the things you have in your home, wardrobe or office are things you really need. If they aren't, sell, donate or give them away.
9. Have a power-down.
Cast your mind back to a time before voice mail, texts and instant messages were a part of everyday life. Back then, if a person couldn't get a hold of you when they wanted to, they simply tried again later. It doesn't have to be so different now.
Turn your phone off. It doesn't have to be forever, just for long enough for you to relax and enjoy the silence.
10. Spend time with the people you love.
At the end of your life it won't matter if you earned a lot of money, got a promotion, had a tidy house or were the perfect size six. What will matter is that you lived a life filled with love, laughter and joy.
Don't wait until you're dying … fill your time with these three most important things, and relax and enjoy your life.