New Year Resolutions for Stress Relief

Sleep and Stress Relief - Stress Relief Resolutions

Woman reading in bed
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Around the first of the year, most of us begin turning our attention to ways we can improve our lives. While resolutions often center on developing new habits that will get us into better physical shape, reducing stress and getting into better mental and emotional shape can provide huge rewards. Eating right and getting exercise generally top most people’s lists of goals for the new year. But this year, it might be wise to incorporate new habits that will reduce stress and increase happiness and overall life satisfaction.

Here are some important steps you can take to be a happier, healthier and more relaxed you in the coming year:

Get Enough Sleep

Being sleep deprived can be both a cause and an effect of being stressed. While stress can keep people up at night, operating on too few hours of sleep can make people less productive, more emotional, and more reactive to stressful events in their lives. This year, you can gain significant benefits by striving for better quality and greater quantity of sleep at night. The following resources can help:

Have a Hobby

Having a stress relief hobby (like drawing) can provide a great outlet. Hero Images/ Getty Images

While you may have gone to school and been involved with sports and fun activities as a child, it’s important to keep learning, growing, and doing things you enjoy throughout your adult life. Having a regular hobby can provide a necessary outlet for mental stimulation and stress relief, and help you maintain a balanced lifestyle. It can also provide you with an appropriate amount of eustress, the positive type of stress that keeps you feeling vital and alive. From a positive psychology perspective, the right hobby can bring the benefits of flow that all gratifications bring.

Because all work and no play can make anyone a little nuts, I’ve included some resources to help you keep life interesting. Taking care of yourself in this way can be an important step toward living the life you want to be living.

Invest in Your Social Circle

Your social circle can be a blessing or a curse; make it a blessing!. Morsa Images/ Getty Images

We are, by nature, social creatures, and the company we keep can have a huge impact on quality of life. Good friends and close family can celebrate with us during our best times and support us through our worst. A social network of healthy relationships can be a buffer against stress and provide many other benefits. However, conflicted relationships can cause additional stress and frustration and even affect our health.

This year, you can strongly improve your quality of life by seeking out healthy new friendships, improving the relationships you already have (with healthy communication and conflict resolution strategies), and letting go of relationships that drain you. The following resources can help:

Get More Music In Your Life

Music is a fun and effective stress reliever. Maskot/ Getty Images

Now that music therapy has become a growing new field used by hospitals and therapists, the benefits of music are becoming more and more known. Playing music a simple and easy way to elevate your mood and change your energy. This makes it a prime way to relieve stress. You can play music in your car during your commute to feel less stressed as you drive, or put music on as you exercise to infuse some additional energy into your workout. You can even have music on in the background as you go about your day, bringing a more soothing feel to all of your activities. Adding more music to your life is an effective and attainable goal for the coming year. The following resources can help:

Cull Your Clutter

Culling clutter can help you mentally and even financially, and relieve stress, too. Jonathan Kitchen/Getty Images

Living in chaos can create stress. Whether you’re overloaded by clutter, disorganized with your schedule, or carrying excess emotional baggage, disarray can make you feel scattered and rob you of resources. While many of us live in cluttered homes, for example, most of us don’t realize that the clutter can rob us of time (as we look for keys and lost items), money (as we pay late fees on bills and things we can’t find) and peace of mind (as sitting in a cluttered room can drain your energy without you even realizing it). This year, you can take weight off your shoulders by being more organized with your time, giving away things you don’t need and maintaining your home as a haven. Shooting for perfection isn't necessary--even small changes in these areas can create a tangible difference in how you feel; start small and make gradual changes, or give yourself a lifestyle makeover starting today. Either way, these resources can help:

Have Some Quick Stress Relievers On-Hand

Learning to relax your body is a great foundation for a stress management program, and it's easier than you may think!. OJO Images/Getty Images

Sometimes stressful situations seem to culminate quickly, and we can go from feeling fine to overwhelmed in a very short period of time. When this happens, it's impractical to stop your life to go practice yoga, get a massage, or try other effective but time-consuming stress relievers. It’s best to have a quick and effective way to turn off your fight or flight response and trigger your relaxation response. The following techniques are easy to learn and can be practiced virtually anywhere and at any time. This year, it would be a great idea to try a few of them and see what works best for you.

Have a Long-Term Stress Relief Practice

Meditation can be a lifelong stress relief tool. Jasper Cole/ Getty Images

While quick stress relievers are important to have on-hand, it’s also essential to have at least one regular stress relieving practice in your life. Having one regular activity that you do to relieve stress in your life can help you to keep your overall stress levels lower so that you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed. Several stress relief habits can help you to be less reactive toward the stressors you face in your life by lowering your physical and / or emotional reactivity to stressors. The following resource can help you examine your lifestyle and personality, and will provide you with a supply of stress relievers that should fit you best:

Cultivate Optimism

For increased overall stress relief, cultivate optimism. Tim Robberts/Getty Images

Many people don’t realize that the way they see the world has a heavy impact on their stress levels, but it’s true: pessimism and negative self-talk can cause you significant amounts of stress. Whether you see situations threats or challenges, beneficial or negative, stressful or exciting, is a matter of your point of view. Fortunately, your point of view can be changed with practice. How much happier, more productive, and less stressed could you be if you omitted some self-defeating thought patterns? The following resources can help you discover whether or not you can benefit from a new perspective.

Reduce Job Stress

Need to reduce job stress? These resources can help. Daniel Day/Getty Images

According to a recent stress poll on this site, people experience the greatest level of stress at their jobs. Over 50% of people feel close to burnout sometimes or often, according to another poll. It’s not surprising considering the long hours, heavy workload, and other factors that come into play in today’s workplace. However, some jobs are more stressful than others. Feeling overwhelmed and burned out by your job can add stress to virtually every area of your life. This year, one of the best things you can do for yourself is examine your work life and see what changes you can make in order to reduce stress. This may include finding tools to increase your productivity, changing certain aspects of your job, adding to your life outside of work so you feel less stressed in general, or even examining whether you’re in the right field. The following resources can help:

Have a Plan for the Future

Do you have an overall plan for your future? Maybe it's time to start dreaming... Tetra Images/ Getty Images

While there’s a lot to be said for living in the moment, there’s a difference between being fully present in your life and feeling so overwhelmed by stress that your focus goes no further than how to get through the next day. With these resources, you should be able to reduce your stress level so that you’re able to look into the future and chase your dreams if you aren’t already. Do you have a strong financial plan in place? Are you expressing yourself as fully as you’d like? Are you on the path to where you’d really like to be with your relationships and personal growth? While new year's resolutions are about deciding what you want in the coming year, it’s also a good idea to have a 3-year, 5-year and even a 10-year plan for your personal life. This doesn’t mean a set-in-stone blueprint, but an idea of where you’d like to be in the future so you can be growing in that direction. The following resources can help you maintain healthy habits in the near future and set long-term goals:

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