Whether we like it or not, stress is a daily part of our lives. From the moment we wake up, to the moment we close our eyes, we’re thrown decisions and challenges that build up on top of each other, layer upon layer, like a mighty stack of pancakes.
Your car breaks down on the way to work? Stress.
You’re worried about financially supporting your family? Stress.
Your longtime partner dumps you, taking the dog with them? Stress.
Slowly but surely, our stress cumulates, building and building until you’re sitting with an incredibly high stack of ‘stress pancakes’. And if you’re not careful, the stack that seemed so solid will come toppling down, and before you know it, you’ve reached your wits’ end.
According to a survey by Forth with Life, over a third of British residents feel that they are too stressed throughout their day to day lives. What’s more, 37% of Brits admitted to feeling stressed for at least one full day per week. That equates to four days in a month at minimum, or an average of nine days per month.
We all have different stress triggers, from financial obligations to emotional problems to being unhappy in our jobs. But just as there are so many causes for stress, there are so many ways to combat stress too; and they’re often simpler than you might think.
Exercising just 20 minutes a day has been shown to reduce the risk of developing depression by a third. Just 20 minutes of contact with nature will reduce your stress levels. Even nibbling on some dark chocolate has been proven to lower stress hormone levels! Now that’s a stress reliever we can definitely get behind.
Because we’re all for keeping stress levels at a manageable level, we’ve put together a calendar of manageable daily stress-reducing activities. Here are 31 activities to do for every day in a full calendar month, but there’s no reason why you can’t start right now! Challenge yourself, your friends and your family to take on the stress-busting calendar challenge and let us know how it works for you.
31 Daily Activities to Reduce Stress
Day 1: Write down 3 things you are grateful for and why (repeat daily for maximum effect).
Day 2: Light a candle and listen to at least 16 minutes of soothing music.
Day 3: Finish your day with a relaxing meditation exercise. Not meditated before? Start small by sitting in silence, eyes closed for 1-5 minutes and try not to let your mind wander. Then keep increasing your time as you get comfortable with the practice.
Day 4: Go for a 20-minute walk outside. It doesn’t matter where, just get that fresh air!
Day 5: Start a stress diary and make a note of each time you feel stressed. Reflect on it daily and make active changes to eliminate or reduce the feeling of stress in each situation.
Day 6: Cook your favourite meal and take time over eating it, savouring each bite.
Day 7: Be open with a friend, colleague or family member about any built-up tension you have. Feel that weight lift off your shoulders!
Day 8: Write a prioritized ‘To Do’ list for your day as you wake up. Get the uncomfortable tasks out the way: “If your job is to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Mark Twain. At the end of the day, review and adapt your schedule.
Day 9: Set aside at least one hour to spend uninterrupted time with your family or friends.
Day 11: Practice mindfulness for 20 minutes. How? Well, ever made a paper aeroplane? That’s mindful. Mindfulness is simply a process of purposely bringing your attention and focus to experiences occurring in the present moment.
Day 12: Spend time with your pet. Stroking a pet for 10 minutes reduces stress and anxiety. If you don’t have your own, take a friend’s dog for a walk or volunteer at an animal shelter.
Day 13: Take 5 minutes to appreciate the beauty of nature around you. Whether from a window or out in the open.
Day 14: Treat yourself to a massage.
Day 15: Dance in your living room like no-one is watching. Dancing like an idiot is an easy, fun way to combat stress.
Day 16: Have a tech-free day. Stop scrolling and take a 24-hour digital detox.
Day 17: Pick up your gadgets again (or meet in person) to thank three people you’re grateful for and tell them why.
Day 18: Take one hour to write down your short-term and long-term goals – and keep them in plain sight. People who vividly describe their goals are 1.4x more likely to achieve them.
Day 19: Do one simple act of kindness to help someone else.
Day 20: Take a long bubble bath. You too, fellas – we don’t judge.
Day 21: Get at least 8 hours of good sleep. No screens at least 30 minutes before bed or 30 minutes after waking up.
Day 22: Stay hydrated. Drinking 2 litres of water promotes cardiovascular health, which reduces stress on the body.
Day 24: Write a personal mantra and repeat it to yourself. Stuck for words? The Stoic mantras are a great source of inspiration…
Day 25: Move your body! Gentle stretching from head-to-toe releases endorphins which make you happier and calmer.
Day 26: Start reading! If you read 25 pages per day, starting today, for 40 weeks of the year (let’s face it, life sometimes gets in the way), then you could read 7,000 pages per year! Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace comes in at 1,225, meaning you could read it 7 times over (y’know, if that floats your boat).
Day 27: Get creative. Draw a cartoon, write a poem or song, start that much-needed DIY… Creativity reduces depression and anxiety.
Day 28: Watch your favourite comedy show or stand-up. They say laughter is the best medicine – and it’s true! Laughter can help improve your immune system and mood.
Day 29: Connect with others. Reach out to a friend or family member that you rarely speak to and spark up a conversation, who knows where it might lead…
Day 30: Eat a meal packed with omega-3, whether that’s fish, nuts, or berries. Omega-3 is known to reduce anxiety.
Day 31: Treat yourself by taking yourself on a date. Do one thing you love. Go see that new film you want to see or take a stroll on your own to that part of the city you want to explore.