“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.” — Astrid Alauda
Demanding work, harmful habits, and lack of sleep all contribute to high stress levels. Life’s demands and the human drive for success make it difficult for many people to simply slow down and take a deep breath without worrying or feeling stressed. That’s why, as a new year begins, it’s a great time to talk about how you can simply and easily let go of the things you have no control over. Here are 7 easy ways you can stop worrying and create a safe and serene home.
HOME IS A SANCTUARY
Your home is meant to be a sanctuary—a place to rest and feel safe from the daily demands on your time and energy. And yet a Statista survey found that 63% of U.S. workers regularly engage in unhealthy behaviors at home to relieve work-related stress.
Those activities include drinking too much and crying … which seems like the lesser of two evils … but if your work is so stressful that it’s making you cry, that seems like a big red flag that something is very wrong.
What we know is that these unhealthy behaviors make matters worse—they add stress to your body and your mind even as you’re doing them … on top of the stress you were already feeling.
It’s a frustrating irony that the actions you may be taking to let off steam or relieve that extra pressure from work are in fact hurting you, too.
And if there’s clutter at home, that also adds to the pressure and stress.
It almost makes you want to do nothing … which could be your secret way out!
A mindful doing nothing instead of an angry or defeated doing nothing is actually a great place to start.
Make a commitment to maintain your home’s tranquility by consciously leaving the day’s worries at the door.
If you follow a particular religion, get yourself a “God” box and if you don’t, make a “worry” box and keep it just outside your front door. Then, before you enter your home, either literally or figuratively deposit your worries into the box.
Keep a pen and paper handy so you can write down your worries and deposit them so you can leave them behind you when you come home.
I’ve done this for years and it works.
MAKE A FEW GOOD CHOICES
Home shouldn’t be a dumping zone for the day’s toxicity—it should be a place of peace and rest.
And that goes for mental clutter as well as physical clutter.
It costs absolutely nothing to make a few good choices when you get home and the ROI on those choices will probably outperform any of your other investments.
Right after you deposit your worries in your box, take a breath before walking through your front door.
Stop, close your eyes, and breathe. Yes, it is that simple.
The benefits of just one intentional breath can make a huge difference in your mood and overall health and you’re already breathing—I’m just suggesting you do it with a bit of attention to amplify your benefits.
Then put your keys in their home, put any snail mail in its home, hang up any coats or outerwear, put your bag someplace specific and then walk into your sanctuary and say thank you.
Gratitude is a great way to reduce stress and dismantle worry.
Since we know you can’t successfully multitask, you can’t be fretting about something while you’re saying thanks.
And every one of us has at least 10 things we are grateful for, whatever you just left behind you outside.
So either write out or verbally say 10 things you appreciate and you will be 10 more steps further away from whatever was making you crazy before you got home.
RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU ARE STRESSED
If you’re drinking alcoholically or sobbing uncontrollably, you may be able to figure out that you’re stressed without much introspection.
But how do you spot it when the symptoms are not so obvious?
Your body may be signaling that you’re feeling stress even before your brain connects the dots.
So it’s a good idea to make a regular habit out of doing a quick body scan to see if you are feeling tension and stress and holding it in any parts of your body.
We all know how good it feels when you get a massage and they get deep into your shoulders and lower back and things start to open up. And suddenly weeks or months of tension melts away and we suddenly realize how much tension we’ve been carrying around.
This quick body scan is an easy way to stay ahead of the curve and minimize aches and pains before they become bigger and interfere with your happiness at home … and at work.
And it’s free.
So many people complain that they don’t have the time or the money to get organized and keep their lives simple—which is just bullshit.
So much of what I’m suggesting here and in my books and videos let you quickly strip out the noise and distractions that are dragging you down and confusing you, and they cost nothing.
So any excuses for NOT taking care of yourself just gets added to your 200 Lies.
Of course, sometimes things happen at home that also cause stress.
When this happens, address the problem head-on—which doesn’t mean pick a fight if you’re cranky.
It just means, don’t try to resolve an issue by being passive-aggressive or triangulating something that should be tackled directly. Conflicts are almost always better dealt with using the straight-line principle … that the shortest distance really is between two points.
So recognize any moodiness or anger and take a moment to yourself so you don’t have a mess to clean up in addition to the original source of stress.
And if you need to, another deep intentional breath may get you right back on track.
PRACTICE BEING MINDFUL
For all the buzz about mindfulness that makes it sound fancy, mysterious, ridiculous or unnecessary, remember that mindfulness is just another way of saying paying attention.
And when is paying attention ever a bad idea?
With that in mind, here are few ways to support and nurture your growing mindfulness practice.
Take a few minutes at the beginning of the day and/or the end of the day to check in. What went well? What didn’t go the way you wanted it to? What could you do better or different?
Write these things out and then make it a habit to say a little prayer or blessing when you put your writing away to let go of any residual feelings so the process ends when you stop writing.
The easiest, quickest way to reboot your day or release stress is to breathe. And you’re already doing that. You just want to focus on your breath to get the maximum benefit from the exercise. So make it a practice to take five deep breaths anytime you want to clear your mind and start fresh.
Using a meditation mobile app, take 5-10 minutes to refocus your mind. It couldn’t be easier to listen along and follow the simple instructions. You’ll see that your worries fade quickly and you’ll soon experience the other benefits of meditation without having to become a monk and renounce society.
Maybe you’ve been sitting all day at work or home and the only movement you got in was either typing, talking or eating. That is not going to get you your 10,000 steps!
Of course, neither will Adho Mukha Svanasana, or downward-facing dog, but you’ll definitely feel like you’re back in your body.
The connection between mind and body is never clearer or more in sync than when you are doing yoga. So roll out your yoga mat and you’ll get the combined benefits of focused breathing, meditation, and physical movement all rolled into one. This is probably the ONLY kind of mutitasking that works!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Remember that regardless of your position at work, home is where you are definitely the boss. Even if you are Co-CEO with a partner, spouse or roommate.
And you can easily make it feel like a safe and serene place by keeping it clean and calm.
This includes keeping your surfaces clear and clutter-free.
So let today be the end of day-old dishes in the sink.
And dropping things randomly on an available surface while telling yourself you’ll put it away later. Now is as good as later … in fact, now is better than later because now is now. You get the immediate benefit of the action AND there’s nothing hanging over your head for “later.”
If that isn’t persuasive enough, check out this article which proves that there is a direct correlation between positive mental health and cleanliness.
Often, people who live in the fictional story of “busy,” with all of its variables of “too busy” “crazy busy” “so busy,” etc. wait until their home is a mess before they rearrange and tidy up.
Instead of falling into this pattern, which wastes time and creates unnecessary stress, here’s your chance to create a home that’s easy to maintain and designed to be both relaxing AND functional.
So here is your list of action items for creating a mindful and stress-free home:
1. Create a God or worry box to deposit all the crap you picked up out in the world so you don’t have to bring that garbage into your home;
2. Take at least one intentional breath before you enter your home;
3. Put your keys, phone, wallet, and bag in their homes;
4. Run through your gratitude list of at least 10 things you are grateful right now;
5. As soon as you feel any tension in your body, run a quick scan so you can release that tension before it becomes worse and builds into worry;
6. Practice mindfulness, which again just means paying attention, by keeping a journal, breathing intentionally, meditating, and/or doing yoga;
7. Keep your surfaces clean by putting things away in the moment rather than lying to yourself about doing it later.
Ultimately, making your home the place where you de-stress and refresh, means making conscious decisions and a few commitments to your mental health and quality of life.
Mindfulness is about intentional action.
Every day you come home and intentionally decide to leave outside negativity outside—where it belongs—and don’t create more clutter inside, is a good day.
And having a string of good days is easy if you follow the steps above.
Isn’t it time that you started having more good days than bad days?
Let this year be that year for you.
Are you tired of the story of “too much to do and not enough time?” Would you love to get an extra hour or more back into your week without any gimmicks AND for free? Check out this cheatsheet I put together for you—it’s my gift and a great way to jump start your decluttering.