Bucket Lists for Stress Relief

 The concept of a "bucket list"--a list of things one would like to do in this lifetime--is one that inspires creativity and hope.  This type of bucket list can help you to reassess your priorities, balance your life, and live with greater presence and satisfaction.  (Read more about the benefits of a bucket list here.)  And all of this can lead to less stress in the long run.  But there are different types of bucket lists that can be fun and beneficial as well.  Here's how to construct a traditional bucket list or a more specifically-focused bucket list that can help you to get in touch with who you are, who you want to be, and what may be possible for you.

Traditional Bucket List

Ziplining and creating adventure can keep life exciting and lower stress levels.
You're never too old for a new adventure!. Noah Clayton/Photolibrary/Getty Images

 A traditional bucket list can help you to assess what you'd really like to experience and accomplish in life.  These types of bucket lists--what one normally thinks of when they think of the term--can be something you create in a moment of inspiration, or an ongoing list that you maintain as the thoughts strike you.  When you're moved to think, "I hope I can do this before I die," that's something to include on your bucket list.  

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Benefits of a Bucket List

Celebrating a birthday with a bucket list and accomplishment list can increase meaning in life. Tim Pannell/Fuse/Getty Images

 When celebrating my birthday, I love to create a list of things I'm happy I experienced, accomplishments I'm proud of, and things I've learned, and a list of things I hope to experience and achieve in the next year.  This is something I think of as a "birthday bucket list," and I make one for each new year and each new decade as well.  I recommend this for a few reasons.  It helps to keep the focus on what is good in life, and on what can be even better.  It helps me to stay focused on where I want to go, but provides a short-term and long-term view, helping me choose variety of goals I work toward.  And most of all, it's a fun tradition, whether I share the list or keep it to myself.  All of these things can help increase my fun and meaning in life.

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Summer Bucket List

Make the most of summer with a bucket list!. yan McVay/Getty Images

 One of my favorite traditions with my kids--one that I'll miss when they are no longer children--is the summer bucket list.  At the beginning of the summer, sit down with your kids and decide what you really want to do over the summer.  Do you want to relax?  Take a trip?  Learn something new?  Experience more as a family, or delve into your individual activities?   When you make a plan together, you are more likely to make time for what you really want to do, and less likely to end the summer with a bewildered feeling of, "Where has the summer gone?"  And don't forget to try a few activities that specifically relieve stress, like drawing, meditation, getting some exercise, or just taking more naps.

Pre-Baby Bucket List

Create a baby bucket list!
Baby bucket list? There are good reasons to create one!. Sally Anscombe/Taxi/Getty Images

 When a baby comes into your life, everything changes.  There are things you may not realize you'll miss until they're gone.  To be sure you make the most of your situation, you may want to create a list (before the baby comes, or even before the baby is on the way) of activities you can't do once the baby has arrived, like sleeping late, staying in a nice hotel with a double bed, or anything else you might still be able to do, but would need a sitter or prior planning.  You can also create a list for after the baby has arrived: baby-focused activities that will no longer be an option in a few years, like enjoying all of the firsts and documenting literally everything.  Really savoring those fleeting moments can help you to maximize your enjoyment, and can help you to hold on to the positive feelings that come with the experience to carry you through the more challenging aspects of new parenthood.

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