How to stress less and simplify your life

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If life is feeling stressful and you’re looking for simple ways to stress less then you’ve come to the right place.

I had a life-changing revelation when I realised my stress came from having ‘too much’. Here in the UK, many of us are so lucky to live in an abundant society where we have everything we need. In fact, we have more than we need. We have so much that we’re constantly under pressure to make choices and we’re faced with endless decisions day in and day out.

Each tiny decision isn’t a big deal.

What time to get up. What shampoo to use. What flavour coffee to have. What to wear. Which news station to watch. What to have for breakfast. What to get out the freezer for dinner.

All tiny, tiny decisions but each one takes up a bit of brain space.

Some of these tiny decisions will bring you joy as you ponder them. Personally, I like having a rummage through our coffee pod jar to choose my morning coffee! But other decisions feel stressful. 

So the real way to stress less is by simplifying. 

Table of Contents

Here are 10 ways to simplify your life and stress less!

Declutter to stress less

How to stress less - declutter

If I’ve got one tip to help you stress less it’s decluttering! Declutter your home, your wardrobe, your phone, your car, your decision making and your mind.

A few years ago I constantly felt stressed and like my life was chaotic. I put it down to having a job that would see me jetting off to the other side of the world with just a moment’s notice. Of course that’s stressful and chaotic, it was only natural to feel like this! But I didn’t need to and there was a way to stress less.

I especially felt stressed when I was at home, the one place where I wanted to feel peaceful and calm. I could never find my stuff, never decide what to wear and I seemed to spend more time tidying my house than I did relaxing in it.

I wanted to be one of those people with a clean, calm, tidy house, but no matter how much I tidied, it always seemed to be a chaotic mess. And you know what they say, ‘Tidy home, tidy mind’, and my mind felt as disorganised as my house!

And then I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Yes, I was desperate! And yes, it’s a boring book but wow, it did change my life! If you use Audible then I recommend listening to this on Audible rather than reading it because it is a bit boring but I did learn a lot. I tried watching the Netflix series and it wasn’t nearly as good.

After reading the book I realised that tidy people aren’t ‘naturally tidy’, they just have less stuff.

Tidying isn’t about buying more storage to hide away your junk, it’s about getting rid of your junk. Oh wow, that’s when the penny drops!

I highly recommend reading the book if you’re not entirely sure about what junk you’d get rid of.

I’ve also found it really interesting that having less ‘stuff’ actually leads to buying less stuff. I don’t want to re-clutter my home with junk again so I’m really selective about what I allow to come into our home. I also know exactly what I have and exactly where it is so I don’t end up buying doubles.

Capsule wardrobe

How to stress less - create a capsule wardrobe

This tied in nicely with decluttering because a capsule wardrobe is essentially just decluttering your wardrobe and stripping it down the bare minimum. This simplifies your mornings by limiting your choices but having less actually means you end up wearing more. Instead of just reaching for the first thing at the top of your draw, you can see all your clothes. Everything you own goes together nicely so you’ve go so many more options.

I have a whole blog post about capsule wardrobes so check it out if you’d like to know more:

Why you should create a capsule wardrobe

Have a junk cupboard/toy room/attic/hidden away storage

How to stress less - store it away

If you’re just getting into decluttering and capsule wardrobes then I highly recommend having some kind of hidden storage.

Decluttering often involves selling or donating a lot of your stuff and you might not be ready to get rid of it yet. 

Those 6 inch glittery heels you haven’t worn for 10 years but you still love? You don’t want to sell them but you’re not ready to part with them. That soup maker you’ve only used once but you think you might regret giving it away? Those gorgeous jeans that are a size too small but you might get back into them one day? That ugly teapot from Aunty Doris that you’d feel too guilty sending to the charity shop?

I’m here to tell you that all those things you’re not really to fully declutter are fine being hidden away in a cupboard!

When I first started decluttering I put everything into storage boxes in our attic. I made myself a deal that if I hadn’t got them out after a year then I’d donate everything to the charity shop. And guess what, 12 months later I’d forgotten all about them and rediscovered them two years later and donated everything without batting an eyelid!

Decluttering can be scary but if you’ve got the safety net of hidden storage then you’re more likely to be ruthless with your decluttering spree!

Routines + streamlining your decision making

How to stress less - create routines

Ask any productivity ninja the secret to being super productive and they’ll tell you it’s small, simple routines. It’s about doing things on autopilot so you never forget and they don’t feel like a big deal.

I really notice how simple and stress-free my weekdays feel in comparison to my weekends. This is because our family weekdays follow a routine set by work times, school times and bedtimes. Because there are so many structured pillars in the day, simple routines are easily formed around these pillars. 

This is a boring mum routine example but I always put the washing machine on when Sam leaves for work at 7.30am. This means the clothes are finished by 8.30am so I put them in the tumble dryer before I take the kids to school. They’re finished when I get back from the school run so I fold them and put them away. Simple. The laundry is done. It doesn’t feel like a big deal, I don’t get overwhelmed by laundry and I don’t let it pile up. I barely even think about it! But when Sam doesn’t go to work for a few days (like over the Christmas break) I always forget to put the washing on and it just feels like a big, stressful chore.

If you want to create a new routine that will help simplify your life then I recommend adding a new task onto an established routine. Something I found really easy was drinking a glass of water every time I make a cup of tea. I drink loads of tea but always forget to drink water but now it’s a routine to drink a glass of water when I’m waiting for the kettle to boil. I do it instinctively without even thinking.

That’s a really simple example but you can start small and work your way up.

Stress less by doing one thing a day

How to stress less - do one thing a day

If you want to have less stress in your life then stop giving yourself so much to stress about!

I think this might be the best tip for simplifying your life because not only will you get more done and feel less stressed but you’ll also feel really proud of yourself for completing everything you set out to complete that day.

Instead of writing yourself an impossibly long to-do list, just set yourself one task a day.

My blogging task for the day is to write this blog post. That’s it. Nothing more. I’m not going to get distracted by the billion and one things I need to do for my blog, I’m just going to write this post. And because I only need to do one thing, I’m confident I’ll get it done!

I tend to set myself one task for different areas of my life. 

  • My blog
  • Life admin
  • Dinner
  • Household chores
  • The kids

I set myself one task for each of these areas and having just one thing a day makes it feel much more manageable.

Batch cook once a week

How to stress less - batch cook

If you’d like to simplify your evenings then I highly recommend batch cooking once or twice a week. Cooking a big batch of a meal doesn’t take much longer than preparing one portion and it means you won’t need to cook every single night.

I know that for some people cooking is their way to destress at the end of the day (or maybe you prefer takeaways and in that case this won’t apply!) but I’m sure most of us would like to free up some time a few times a week!

I love having a freezer full of family meals and knowing there will always be a nice meal everyone will eat definitely simplifies my day. I find that slow cooker meals are the easiest to batch cook and it barely takes any extra time at all.

We then gain an extra hour each evening because there’s no cooking to be done and minimal cleaning up. We can use this hour to relax, go for a walk, play in the garden or – more often than not – play computer games with the kids which is actually a great way to destress! 

Invest in the best

How to stress less - invest in the best

I know this can be a hard recommendation to follow because it’s tough to know what ‘the best’ is and how do you know which recommendations you can trust? But, wherever you can, try to invest in the best you can afford.

Whether you’re buying a new pair of shoes, a lawn mower or a new kitchen knife, invest in the best. 

Yes, it’s going to cost you more but it’s going to cause you less stress in the long run. It’s less likely to break so you won’t have the hassle and extra expense of repairs. It’s also more likely to work as it should so using it will be a joy, rather than a frustrating stress as you try to use a product that just isn’t quite up to the job!

Ask yourself, ‘What was stressful today?’

How to stress less - ask yourself what was stressful

It’s time to sit down and have a think about what you actually find stressful in your day to day life. It’s something we don’t always take any time to think about because it makes us feel uncomfortable but go through all those stressful moments with a fine tooth comb and you might be surprised to find what really causes you stress.

I used to get really stressed about checking my emails…which leads me on to my next tip to stress less….

Empty your inbox to instantly stress less and be more productive

How to stress less - empty your inbox

My inbox used to be the most stressful place on the planet. I had thousands of unopened emails and it felt like a flood I could never clear. For every email I replied to, I’d get two in response. The barrage of junk mail was constant and I ended up taking the ‘bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away’ approach. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work!

And then I discovered something magical.

It was January 2nd 2018 and I was wading through my emails when I realised I couldn’t possibly reply to them all, so I did something drastic. 

I created a folder within my emails entitled ‘2017’ and I moved every single email from the previous year into this folder. I didn’t delete them but I moved them from my inbox. If I searched for them I’d find them and if anyone sent a follow up email I’d still have the original one they sent.

I was left with about 10 emails from the current year and – wow – I suddenly felt so light and stress free. My inbox was suddenly manageable. Actually, my inbox was a joy!

I quickly replied to those 10 emails and filed them away into appropriate folders leaving my inbox empty. Empty!!

The following morning I woke up to 10 new emails (and lots of junk which I quickly deleted) and I did the same again. I now set aside an hour 2-3 times a week to empty my inbox and I’m so much more productive and don’t feel the same stress around my inbox.

Start a physical or creative hobby

How to stress less - start a physical hobby

Something that will really help you stress less is a hobby that occupies your mind and/or needs physical activity. If you can find something that requires both then it’s an absolute winner!

Some physical and creative hobbies I have are:

Gardening – I’ve just started a veggie plot and a huge flower bed

SUP – Stand up paddle boarding is physical and also takes a lot of concentration so it’s brilliant to destress!

Photography – Photography is so creative and rewarding and can be physical if you’re photographing in the outdoors

Hiking/walking – The best way to unwind after a tough day

Cooking and baking – There’s so much creativity in cooking

Decorating – This hobby obviously has a shelf life (unless you have a HUGE house or friends you can decorate for!)

Travel planning – So much creativity goes into travel planning – especially if you’re like me and like to rip up travel magazines and stick everything together into folders!

Scrapbooking – Make a travel scrapbook, or a scrapbook from your everyday life. It’s so much nicer than a regular photo album. Where’s Mollie has some great travel scrap book inspiration!

Journaling – Not only is a journal a gorgeous thing to look back on but it’ll help you work through any problems. I highly recommend Helen Redfern’s eBook Journaling your Goals if you’re just getting started with journaling.

I hope this post is helping you think about ways to reduce stress in your life and hoe simplifying things can really help you stress less.

5 Comments
  1. Helen Wright 7 months ago
    Reply

    This is what I need right now – thinking about real life starting again and all the ‘decisions’ that come with has been making me stressed. I just didn’t realise it

  2. Sally 7 months ago
    Reply

    I’ve been having breathing difficulties in the evenings in the past two weeks. The breathing I get when I’m anxious. It then affects my sleep, the anxiety not the breathing!
    It’s taken me two weeks to actually reflect on why. I’m still not 100% sure but think it’s trying to do other tasks whilst cooking dinner and still using my phone for work stuff after dinner.
    The question is can I put my phone down at 7pm…!!! I’ll try ?

    • Monica 7 months ago
      Reply

      Yes! Put that phone down. I feel the same when I’m on my phone a lot – especially when a big part of your business is online. But I always think, ‘I don’t expect people to respond to me immediately so people shouldn’t expect me to respond immediately either!’

  3. Kirstine 7 months ago
    Reply

    Yes! I already do some of these things but really need to get back on top of them (I’ve got a 4mo who doesn’t sleep, a very energetic 3yo and we’ve just moved house so we’re completely out of routine ?).
    One thing I would add once you’ve sorted out your inbox and it’s more manageable, instead of just deleting anything you don’t need/read, make sure you unsubscribe from them. If you’re not reading them you won’t miss them and if you do miss them you can sign up again.

    • Monica 7 months ago
      Reply

      Yes! Do you know what though, I had about 6 months where I was so strict about unsubscribing from newsletters but I still get SO many. I even used a service that unsubscribes you from everything and it didn’t seem to make any difference. They just keep on coming!

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