6 Steps to Destress

Feeling stressed?  Maybe there is something you should or shouldn’t be doing.  If you’re shouldering your share of stress, here’s some tips to help you de-stress and take a load off.

  1. Do something that makes you happy. When was the last time you did something you truly enjoy? Read a book that wasn’t work-related (ok, so I’m guilty of this). Go take a walk just because, and notice how beautiful a flower can be. Go to coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Play a card game with your spouse or partner without the TV. Go see a movie.
  2. Stop and think about what is stressing you out, and how you can alleviate the problem. Beth, of My Simpler Life Blog wrote beautifully on this, so I’ll link it HERE, because I couldn’t have written it better myself!
  3. Simplify Your Life. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – simplify your life.  It’s east to let stuff (tangible or otherwise) take over and accumulate.  Sometimes you have to edit your life and get rid of things that are not making sense, or making you unhappy.  Is it easy?  Sometimes not, but having the courage to take control of your own life is worth your sanity in the long run.  (Incidentally, if you haven’t read Seth Godin’s new book, The Dip, I highly recommend it! It gives great tips on quitting, and what that means for you in the long run.)
  4. Will this matter in 5 years? A good, and ahem, more experienced friend of mine gave me some great advice several years ago: when faced with the day to day stuff, ask yourself, “will this matter in five years?”  If the answer is no, then don’t sweat it.
  5. Concentrate on what is good in your life, and how to attract more of the good. Almost everyone on the planet is talking about The Secret, and for good reason.  Concentrate on what is good in your life, and you will attract more of it to you.  What you think about it, you will bring to your life – so make your thoughts good ones!
  6. Review this list. A great list from Jobacle on 50 things you can do to destress.  Take 5 minutes to read it.  You won’t be sorry!

“Remember America: Organization Will Set You Free”

So, if you’re an Alton Brown fan, such as myself you may know where that quote comes from.  The truth is,  organization can set you free.  With talk lately about a personal perception of the merits of “messes” these days, I just cant resist the temptation to put my two cents into the conversation.

Messy is highly overrated.

Let me tell you, as a former “messie” type, I was stressed.  Not finding things, working myself into an absolute tirade over lost keys (yet again), accusing my poor unsuspecting husband of moving lost items….it was not pretty.  For me, it didn’t work.  I had too much stuff.  When I started to go through it all, it was liberating.  I discovered a lot about myself, and some of that wasn’t pretty either!

Organized = doing what you do, only better.

There are those who would think that organization = perfection.  A conversation with someone close to me prompted me to say, “You know, you’d be surprised at how organizing oneself really is helpful.  It helps you do what you do better, like getting the important things done.”  It’s not about rule setting or shame, or any of that other nonsense.  Organizing simply helps you be a better…..well….YOU.

“Stop Pouring”

As I sit watching Dr. Wayne Dyer’s presentation about his experiences with reading the Tao (his book, “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life“), I am struck by his comment:

…when your cup is full, stop pouring…

Our culture is overrun with having more and more and more stuff.  Advertisements abound that tell us our life isn’t complete without this or that.  What if we could just say, thanks, I’m fine, and I have enough?  Clutter overtaking our homes and offices, extra weight, too many commitments – these are all signs that we haven’t stopped pouring.  More stuff doesn’t always equal more happiness.

Do you have an area in your life where you need to “stop pouring”?


I was referred to this article by Paul Graham.  I thought the article was very interesting.  The author explores how our possessions have increased in number and (in some ways) our value of them has decreased in a way.  He also talks about how stuff used to be less accessible in generations past, and as a result, people had less accumulation.  As opposed to today, when industrialized countries have access to more and more stuff at continually lower prices (and many times lower quality).

More stuff doesn’t equate to satisfaction.

Isn’t it amazing how you can buy and buy and never feel satisfied?  Shopping addictions are pretty common, and difficult to overcome.  The deal is, no accumulation of stuff will ever fill the hole that we are trying to make it fill.  It’s about the value of life, people and experiences we come into contact with that should fill our days.  When it comes down to it, stuff will never love us back or help us when we’re down.

No amount of organizing or redesign can hide the fact that one has too much stuff in their home or office.  It’s not something that can be contained by a new product or process.  Really dealing with how much we have, and how much we bring into our lives is paramount.  It’s not worth having if it’s not useful.  It’s not worth the footprint in our space if it doesn’t bring value to life – it’s just stuff.

Buy with purpose.

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I like a good quality handbag or a nice pair of shoes that will last.  (For me, quality is more important than brand names – I could care less about what people think of the name on my bag.)  However, unconscious purchasing (which runs rampant in the USA) is a real dead end.  Buying stuff should be something we do with purpose, keeping in mind how it will serve us as a useful possession – NOT how it makes us feel when we buy it.

What’s your thought on “stuff”?

Conscious Living

Fruits of my labor

There should be a magazine called “Conscious Living”. Isn’t it amazing how we can wander through life on auto-pilot? Not really noticing or taking in our surroundings, events, relationships or work. Recently I have taken up gardening (ok so it’s been a few years, but this year I am actually producing – those are my strawberries in the picture), and I find the best thing about it is the time to think.  Hacking up a bush that I am not too fond of last night, I was concentrating on this one deed: getting that thing to look the way I wanted it to look.  I had to step back a few times to take in what it looked like from far away, and then step in again and prune and shape it to be what I wanted.  Then there are the “fruits” of gardening if you are growing something you can actually eat (YUM!).

Taking a step back.

Funny, cause life can be like that – sometimes a step back can make all the difference. It can be a scary thing too.  Stepping back to take a 10, 000 foot level look at life:

Do I like what I see?

Is there anything painfully out of place?

How can I shape and mold it to be what I know is right?

It’s not a crazy search for the perfect life, family or job, but simply a time out to look at the entire picture; and then make it your own… consciously.

Reduce Stress

New Year Resolution #4:
Reduce Stress

8 Days of Resolutions

This series is all about the top New Year Resolutions. One of those is “Get Organized”. Have you ever made this resolution? How did it go? Did you do a “crash & burn” weekend on Jan. 2nd and everything was back to the way it was by Jan. 10th? Try using organization as a tool for whatever change you desire. You may surprise yourself!

What stresses you out?

What’s for dinner?  Wasn’t my best client’s birthday yesterday?  Did I have a meeting today?  What was the thing I wasn’t supposed to forget to do today?

How can you reduce stress?  Here’s three tips:

1. “Will this matter in 5 years?”

As a young newlywed, I had a great more “experienced” friend who helped me with some perspective on stress.  I admired her ability to remain cool under pressure (she had 5 grown children & several grandchildren who frequented her home and an aging parent living with her at the time).  When I asked her how she she seemed to keep a cool head when things got crazy, she replied, “I ask myself, ‘Will this matter in 5 years?’ ”  If the answer was “no” she didn’t worry to much about it.  Wise words, and they still ring in my ears today.

2. Structure isn’t a four letter word.

I recently heard a quote by T.S. Elliott:  “When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost–and will produce its richest ideas.  Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”

When I talk to people at my workshops or presentations, many of them are afraid of structure.  I get it, I really do.  I am not a very linear person, and I used to poo-poo the idea of structuring my day.

When I had my son, I learned that children need and crave structure.  Breakfast at 8am, nap at 10:30, lunch at 12:30, nap at 3:00, dinner at 6:30, bed at 8:00.  I learned that my son was happier, well adjusted and just plain more enjoyable to be around when we stuck to the schedule.  Now, of course we took side trips, went to special events and did other activities that called for flexibility in our schedule.  However, we soon eased back into the routine when things got back to normal.

I found when I structured my day, planned out tasks and arranged my calendar, it was easier to get the important things done.  I didn’t worry about what I needed to do, because I had already planned it out and had some flexibility when other matters came up.  I know when things start to slip and get out of control, it was time for a check-in to see what needs to improve.  Guess what?  When I stick (sometimes somewhat loosely) to a schedule, I’m a happier, well adjusted, less stressed and just plain more enjoyable to be around…  Go figure.

3. Find an outlet.

I love to read.  I love self-improvement books, but I also love period fiction (like Memoirs of a Geisha).  A friend asked me once, “Where do you find the time to read so much?”  I responded, “I make time.”  Reading is an escape, a chance for me to go into another world and watch a story unfold.  I wonder what the characters will do, say or experience next.  I think about what I would do in that situation and what I can learn and apply to my own life and mind.

24 hours might not seem like a lot, but it really is.  It’s amazing how much time I can fritter away without even thinking about it.  But, I always make time for things I like to do.  I believe it’s essential to reducing stress.  If we don’t give ourselves little pockets of time to do what we like, we’ll soon have nothing to give to others or our business.  Make time for an outlet of enjoyment, and see how you feel.

How are you going to reduce stress this year?


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Change Your Story

Last night I heard a wonderful speaker. He was a mix of different perspectives on life including counsellor and what some would call a Cultural Creative. Last night he spoke to a group of organizers about shame and its impact on us as individuals. I was completely fascinated by his talk.

The stories we tell ourselves.

One thing that stood out for me was a point he made about the “stories” we tell ourselves, and how those stories can change when we look at the actual data of our lives. For example, “I’m just a disorganized person” could be a story one might tell themselves. If you buy into that story, and that is what you believe (enough to say those words out loud) then it’s true in your experience, and probably in your physical environment. The fact is, accomplishing any goal or changing your life is how you look at it, and what actions you take to make that change a reality.

Before letting go…

I was also inspired by Ariane Benefits’ post on Joyful Jubilant Learning’s blog, “Things I Had to Unlearn Before I Could Let go of My Clutter”. Ariane’s story in her mind had to change before she could let go of her clutter. As she states in her post, the change she made had to do with unlearning certain behaviors, and changing her internal dialog and story.

Stepping up and moving forward.

I’ve been there – not organized from birth, and struggling with mountains of paper, keeping pictures of people I didn’t like, unfinished projects and things I kept because I thought I “should”. It’s a bummer to deal with when you have to look at it all, take responsibility and say “I did that”. Then, to step up and do something about it.

Action = forward motion.

To me, when actions motivate you to move forward, your story will begin to change. You realize that the change you seek has to start somewhere. So, it might as well be now, with a small step in the direction you are looking toward.

What’s your story, and what are you doing to change it?

A Home Office to Love

What’s up with us?

Why is it that most of us tend to make our home beautiful and “clean up” only for company?  It’s really an interesting thing to think about.  Maybe it’s our culture?  It seems we put so much pressure on ourselves to look good for other people.  Why would we make sure our space is in perfect order for others and not for our own benefit.  There is a recent trend in real estate on staging.  It’s the idea that we create and tell a story to potential buyers, so they can see themselves in our home.  Taking out distractions and making the home shine helps someone else see the beauty and lifestyle they want.

Why do we only do it for other people?

Now, I have no problems with that – I’ve offered it as a service to clients in the past, as I feel it’s a value to sellers.  However, what if we did that for ourselves, and our own benefit?  Shouldn’t we make our homes & offices reflect who we are?  Shouldn’t the things that we love and cherish be out and used on a daily basis?

What about your home office?

Take some time to look around at your own home office.  It says a lot about you.  Do you like what it says?  If not, think about ways you can change it.  Make it more appealing to you.  You might find that it changes your whole perspective and the work you do.