how to reduce stress

How to Reduce the Stress Level in Your Life

I confess. Sometimes I run the car until the gas gauge is past empty, I arrive at the airport just a few minutes before the flight departs, and I rush from meeting to meeting with no time in between. What does that cause? Stress. And it’s self-imposed! But in recent years, I’m addressing it by building more margin into my family’s life.

Odds are, you need to do that, too. Here are 6 solid ways to reduce stress by building more margin into your life.

1. Prepare in advance.

You’ve heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s true when it comes to reducing morning madness. Take a little time tonight to prepare for tomorrow and you’ll cut the level of stress. Have the children lay out the clothes they are going to wear or select clothes for them if they’re too young to do it themselves. Make sure any school supplies are packed and ready. Put together as much of the lunches that you can and finish up in the morning.

2. Get up earlier.

It’s really tempting to hit the snooze button for just a few more minutes, but they aren’t really going to make a great deal of difference and you’ll just enter the day rushing. Conversely, rising 10 or 15 minutes before you “need” to can really pay dividends. You have time for a quiet few minutes on your own with a cup of coffee, some prayer, and Bible study—the calm before the storm! When everyone else rises, you then can be the still center of their morning.

3. Get there early.

Screeching into the parking lot at the last minute and leaping out of the vehicle means you step into your next commitment with a high level of stress. Give yourself a few extra minutes to get there and you won’t have to worry about the traffic being bad. On arrival, you can take a deep breath and compose yourself, and be sure you have everything you need, or spend a few minutes more for valuable connection time talking with your children before they head off to whatever they’re doing.

4. Carry to-do’s with you.

Doing things now frees up time later, so look for ways to make use of all the downtime in the day as you’re running errands and shuttling kids to different commitments. While waiting for your doctor’s appointment, work on that business reading you have to do or the letter you have been meaning to write.

5. Control your commitments.

We all have obligations and duties, but you may be surprised to discover how many you can let go.

We all have obligations and duties, but you may be surprised to discover how many you can let go. One of the challenges is that your slate is full of “good things”—like sports, community or church activities, friends, and extracurricular programs. But load them on top of each other and they become too much. So set limits. When our children were small, we’d limit them to participating in one sport at a time. Bottom line: Own your family calendar. Also, start a “stop doing” list. Make a list of all the things you do. Then ask yourself, “What is one thing I can stop doing?”

6. Schedule downtime.

While you should be taking some things off your calendar, you also should be adding something: family time. This is an evening or a weekend afternoon when you turn down all other invitations so your family can be together. But keep it simple. This is an opportunity to detox from distractions. Maybe it’s playing board games together, or a reading hour when everyone sits with a book. Silence cell phones so there are no interruptions. In this hyper-connected modern world, it’s really important for children to learn that they don’t have to be glued to technology.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share iMOM article How to Make Time for Yourself Despite Your Busy Schedule with your wife and invite her to discuss it with you.

Sound off: In what ways have you learned to increase margin and reduce stress for your family?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one activity you would like to continue doing? What is one you would like to stop?”