The new year is here! You survived the chaos of the holidays, but often, that doesn’t mean the stress is over.
Maybe there are a few extra pounds you want to lose after all the festivities. Or perhaps you overspent a little picking out the perfect gifts and those credit card bills are looming over you. Not to mention all the pressure of being inundated with “New Year, New You” messages.
All that stress can put a damper on your physical, mental, and emotional health. So this year, I vote we all focus on creating new habits that can help minimize and manage stress. That way you can take on the coming months as a happier, healthier, and more calm version of you.
If you’re ready to kick off the new decade with less stress, here are my recommendations to help you ease into a more relaxed year.
Eight Ways to Manage Stress In the New Year:
1. Plan Ahead
It’s no secret that life gets hectic. In our fast-paced world, it can seem like there’s just never enough time for everything.
But the new year is the perfect time to take stock of your life and be more intentional with your time. Planning ahead will not only allow you to accomplish the things you’ve set out to do – it’ll also save you a ton of stress.
Trying to keep track of all your to-do’s in your head can clutter up your mind and leave you feeling anxious and unprepared for the day. One of the very best ways to combat this stress is to prevent it from ever happening at all. By intentionally planning your days, you’ll feel in control of your time instead of constantly reacting to the demands of the day.
And there’s nothing better for planning than a good old-fashioned list written out by hand. Simply taking the time to write out a daily or weekly to-do list can work wonders for keeping stress at bay. Write down all of the tasks you need to get done, any appointments you have, any phone calls you need to make, etc. Once you have everything written down, prioritize what needs to be done. Then it’s just a matter of crossing your to-do’s off the list.
2. Stick to a Budget
We’ve all been there. What was supposed to be a quick, 10-minute trip to a store turns into a 2-hour ordeal and you come out with a shopping cart full of things you never planned to get. And during the holidays, it can be even easier to find yourself going into debt to buy the most perfect gifts for everyone on your list.
This can leave you rolling into the new year feeling stressed and anxious when it comes to finances. But not to worry, this time of year is perfect for making a fresh start by coming up with a spending plan.
Creating and sticking to a budget can feel overwhelming at first. But it’s one of the best tools you have to get control of your finances and minimize stressing about money. Having a budget will help you feel empowered since you’re intentionally deciding exactly how and when you’re spending your hard-earned dollars.
3. Set Boundaries
When is the last time you checked in with yourself? Are you going to that party or saying yes to that new project at work because you want to? Or because you feel like you have to?
It can be tempting to say “yes” to every single request for your time. But I want you to practice saying “no” this year. You’re not obligated to accept every invitation, request, or opportunity that comes your way. Especially if you know saying “yes” will make you anxious or doesn’t align with how you really want to be spending your time.
Instead, prioritize getting good sleep over trying to please everyone in your life. Having healthy sleep habits is associated with improved psychological, emotional, and physical health — all of which will ensure a happier and healthier year for you.
I also recommend setting aside at least 5 minutes every night to tune into yourself. Whether this means journaling, meditating, or doing something creative is up to you, but ask yourself what your thoughts, feelings, and needs are. Regular practice of emotional expression can help foster good emotional and mental well-being. Once you figure out what’s going on in your mind, honor your needs.
4. Make Time for Exercise
Exercise not only decreases stress hormones, but it also helps boost energy levels and the feel-good chemicals in the brain. After all the craziness around the holidays, you’re probably exhausted and a workout session might be one of the last things you think about. I get it. You don’t have to join a gym or commit to hour-long workout sessions every day. A short, brisk walk outside can do wonders for your mood.
One way to incorporate physical activity into your busy schedule is to build a habit. If regular exercise isn’t a part of your day right now, gradually increase the amount of general movement you get throughout the day — even standing up instead of sitting while you work can double your metabolism. To learn more about building habits that stick, check out my article Tired of Making Promises to Yourself That You Never Keep? Make Lifestyle Changes That Finally Stick!
5. Know What You Can (and Can’t) Control
For some people, the holidays can trigger stress and anxiety because they’re haunted by their past. Most of us have family members that drive us crazy, leaving us with a lot of negative emotions after all of those holiday rendezvous. But that doesn’t mean every future get-together has to end up as a disaster.
Instead, set an intention in the new year to create a different way of navigating challenging relationships.
Acknowledge the triggers and set an intention to approach that person (or people) with a positive outlook. Keep the conversations light and don’t get drawn into their drama or debate.
No, you don’t have any control over what others say and how they act, but you do have control over your thoughts and whether you allow others to affect your mood and stress level. Every night, list your blessings and focus on them — there’s always something to be grateful for.
6. Take a Break From Social Media
Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, connect with new and engaging ideas, or even just be fun entertainment. But spending a significant amount of time on social media can also have a dark side. Seeing perfection on social media isn’t anything new, but it can make you feel more lonely, depressed, or envious.
So here’s my suggestion: Do a “detox” and delete all social media for a period of time – even if it’s only a few days.
Social media isn’t reality. Shifting your attention to your present moment and recharging with the other strategies discussed in this article can help you feel more connected to your own life. And once you do get back on social media, being mindful and setting boundaries with how much time you spend scrolling each day can help you maintain a healthy balance.
7. Ask for Help
Believe it or not, you don’t have to do everything by yourself! Asking for help when you need it is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your relationships with others. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, it’s nearly impossible to show up as the best version of you in all aspects of your life.
So don’t be afraid to ask others to pitch in or support you. Your spouse or kids (depending on age) can help you with tasks around the house. If you’re hosting dinner, ask your guests to bring side dishes or desserts. If you’re having a rough day and need to talk, reach out to someone and vent. You might be pleasantly surprised at how eager people are to help out – and at how much stress it’ll take off your plate.
8. Give Yourself the Gift of Me-Time
With the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be easy to forget about your own wants and needs. So why not treat yourself to something special in the new year?
Build time into your schedule just for you. Whatever it is you need to relax and recharge, make a commitment to making self-care a priority this year.
Create Your Joy
Having some stress in life is unavoidable, but there are positive, healthy strategies to help you manage it. And while there’s no such thing as a stress-free life, building in habits that support you can go a long way in keeping your stress levels in check.
These techniques can (and should) be used throughout the year. Regularly practicing these techniques can prevent stressful times from interfering with your life.
I wish you and your family a wonderful and mostly stress-free New Year!
Do you have any other strategies for coping with stress? Share your thoughts in the comments below!