13 Easy Things You Can Do to Reduce Stress and Lead a Less Hectic Life

Whether you’re switching careers, moving homes, coping with a loved one’s illness, or feeling overwhelmed by a hundred little things (we’ve all been there), stress is an inevitable part of life.

It’s a state of being that comes and goes as often as our Instagram feeds update, but it’s also something we can easily manage with a few fool-proof strategies.

So, rather than trudging forward with your head down and hoping for the best, try implementing these simple habits, mindsets, and schedule changes to limit stress and bring more calm to your everyday life.


1. Time-block your schedule.

Time-blocking consists of designating a specific amount of time for each task you need to accomplish during the day. You might give yourself 30 minutes to answer emails, 20 minutes to call catering companies for your best friend’s bridal shower, and two hours to tackle a big presentation your boss asked you to prepare.

The best thing about time-blocking is that it focuses on task progress, not completion, making it much more flexible and approachable as a form of time management.


2. Declutter the part of your home that’s bothering you the most.

Instead of making lofty goals to declutter your entire home à la Marie Kondo, focus on your biggest problem area. Which part of your home causes you the most anxiety?

Is it the storage closet you can’t open for fear of collapsing under an avalanche of random Halloween costumes and old coats? Maybe it’s the bathroom countertop you can no longer see because it’s cluttered with makeup and half-used bottles of lotion? Whatever irritates you every day is worth taking care of so you can feeler calmer and more productive in your space.


Source: @natalievi


3. Take everything one step at a time.

Simplify your life by handling everything you have to do, no matter how small or seemingly easy, one step at a time. If your siblings named you head party planner for your dad’s surprise 60th birthday, don’t overwhelm yourself by considering everything you have to do before the big day. Instead, break it into steps: discuss the party budget with your siblings, research restaurant locations online, make a list of possible guests, and so on.


4. Make plans with friends once a week.

No matter how busy or chaotic your schedule seems—and no matter how many texts it takes to solidify a plan—carving out time to connect with the people who make you happiest is never a waste. Cook dinner together, check out a new café, take a workout class, or meet up for an evening stroll. That quality time together keeps you feeling supported and happy. Plus, venting or confiding in a friend about problems you might be facing is a great way to relieve stress and gain some outside perspective.



5. Spend time outside every day.

A healthy dose of fresh air is one of the best ways to instantly lift your mood, especially if your job or daily routine keeps you stuck indoors under artificial lights for more than a third of the day. Go for a walk right after you wake up, take your lunch to a park, or catch the sunset. It doesn’t have to be complicated—just get outdoors when you can.



6. Make sleep non-negotiable.

Don’t try to get eight hours of sleep every night—actually make it happen. Work backward from when you need to wake up in the morning. If you set your alarm for 6 a.m., aim to be well on your way to dreamland by 10 p.m. the night before.

Try not to make excuses for why you need to stay up later, either. Think about your sleep schedule the same way you’d think about arriving to work on time. Both should be non-negotiable.


7. Develop a relaxing nightly routine.

Instead of getting caught up watching eight consecutive episodes of Orange is the New Black or spiraling down a Pinterest rabbit hole only to realize your entire evening has passed you by, give your post-work hours more thought and structure.

Divide your evening into two parts: preparing for the next day and recharging.

While you still have the energy and motivation, do whatever you need to do to set yourself up for success the next day: make your lunch ahead of time, pack your gym clothes, glance at your schedule, and organize your to-do list. Once you’ve taken care of business, dedicate the remainder of the night to unwinding. That might mean soaking in the bath, listening to music, calling your best friend, or stretching on your yoga mat.


Source: Hello Fashion


8. Exercise every day.

When you have a jammed schedule, you might think an hour-long workout will hinder your to-do list progress or slow you down, but that’s actually rarely the case. A quick sweat session boosts your energy levels, brightens your mood, and lets you channel your stress and anxiety in a healthy way, so when you’re finished, you’re more likely to be productive and focused on the task ahead.



9. Keep your to-do list flexible.

Rather than creating a master list of everything you’d like to get done (but probably don’t have time for), keep your to-do list realistic. Limit it to the most important things you need to accomplish that day, and leave a little space for any unexpected tasks that might pop up, like scheduling doctors’ appointments or going grocery shopping.

And if you don’t finish everything on the list, don’t beat yourself up. Think of your to-do list as the outline to an essay: helpful for keeping you on track, but also totally adjustable.


10. Say no more often.

Start practicing saying no to things you have no interest in or no time for. It might be the second happy hour invitation you’ve received in less than a week or a side project your manager asks you to spearhead during an upcoming long weekend.

Learning to say no—in a respectful, but firm way—is a crucial skill that not only gives you the confidence to manage your time better, but also gives you more freedom to say yes to the things that really matter to you.



11. Wake up 30 minutes earlier.

Instead of spending 30 minutes under your sheets scrolling through social media, get out of bed and use that extra time to do something that makes you feel productive, rejuvenated, and prepared to take on the day.

Meditate, read the news with your morning coffee, squeeze in a workout, take your pup for a walk, catch up on emails, make an elaborate breakfast, or just enjoy getting ready without feeling rushed.


Source: @lovelypepa


12. Schedule rest and leisure time.

Like exercising or eating well, relaxing is a key component to taking care of yourself. Regularly scheduling time to kick back and do you means you’ll be that much more energized and mentally prepared to tackle the inevitable problems and annoyances that pop up throughout the week.

You don’t need to plan a fancy spa day or weekend away, either (though that never hurts)—just clear a couple hours for an activity that helps you mellow out. Read the book that’s been sitting on your nightstand for weeks, grab a long lunch with a friend, or laze around in your PJs all day with a good Netflix series.


13. Stop documenting everything and start enjoying it.

As fun as social media is, spending all your waking hours plugged in can leave you feeling anxious and on edge. At least once a week, commit to turning your phone off or leaving it in the car during a social event or solo excursion. It’s fun to relive your memories through photos and Snapchat videos, but it’s even more special to fully enjoy your experiences while they’re actually happening.


How do you reduce stress and make your life less hectic?


This article was originally posted on October 16, 2016

  • I love absolutely everything on this list. I’m a firm believer in a nightly wind down routine and a tidy home/desk really focusing the mind

    – Natalie

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Glad you liked it, Natalie!

  • I really needed to read this. Even already knowing what you need to do, it’s always refreshing to be reminded. Thanks!
    Ashleigh | Mermaid on the Move

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Happy to hear that, thanks so much for reading!

  • Rieka Timm

    This was a great read and so timely! The sleep thing is something I am really trying to work on!

    I come to The Everygirl everyday while I eat my lunch and I am never disappointed and I love the variety of articles. I am a little older than your target audience, but I relate much more to the young 30-something! 🙂


    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks, Rieka! I do the same lunch thing, actually — love scouring good articles with good food.

  • Great article!!! I get sooooo stressed from school and these were super helpful tips! Would love to know some ways to make my room stress free and relaxing

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      So happy it resonated with you, Jessica! As for your room, here are a few little tweaks you can make: keep it clean, make your bed every day, light candles, put your laptop/work/homework paper out of sight, and curate a little collection of things that make you happy (photos, books, trinkets, souvenirs, whatever!).

  • Awesome post!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks for reading, Yvonne!

  • I really needed this. Things have been so hectic that I’ve stopped making time for my friends and I’m an unhappier person for it!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      I get in the same rut all the time! But whenever I do make plans with friends, even if it’s just an hour hangout, I always feel so much happier afterward 🙂

  • I try to follow most of these put definitely need to slow down after coming home from work. I feel like I want to achieve to much when I get home but I need to learn to relax. Thanks for sharing!


    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Relaxation is key! You’ll be so grateful once you make it a daily habit. Thanks for reading!

  • These are all such helpful tips. I can really see the magic of exercising when it comes to reducing stress. Whenever I skimp on pilates or yoga, my day is usually much more tense and difficult. Thanks for reminding me of some other great ideas, too 🙂

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks, Marie — glad you liked it!

  • #2 & #5 are a huge thing for me. I go everyday for a hike. On the days I am not able to be outside hiking, my stress level goes through the roof.
    Bridget | http://nuttyhiker.com

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      You must live near some awesome hiking trails! I’m jealous — it’s one of my favorite ways to exercise!

  • Christina Bosco

    This was exactly what I needed to read after planning a wedding, switching jobs, and moving to a new city all within 6 months. I’ve never been so stressed in my life. I really need to make more of an effort to relax and do the things I enjoy. Thank you!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      That definitely sounds like a wild (but fun!) six months! Always good to be reminded to slow down a bit. Thanks for reading!

  • Reading The Every Girl helps in my times of stress, just like this article, it’s already put me in a great mindset for the day!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      So happy to hear that, Analyssa!

  • #1 and #5 really resonate with me. I try to schedule my deep work first in the morning and right after lunch. Unless the weather is absolutely horrible, I always go for a twenty minute walk during lunch. Getting some fresh air makes me feel so much more productive.

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Love the lunchtime walk idea! I always aim to do this, but can get so caught up at my computer. Thanks for reading, Susi!

  • Jessika Garcia

    I’ve never been able to stick to a specific schedule for long. However I find what works best is changing my schedule up often. For instance, time blocking only works for me if I have a lot of things to do, but if things at work slow down, time blocking no longer works. One things that stays pretty constant is scheduling time with friends and my workouts. The older I get, it’s so important for me to have just enough girl time and work out time to make the day/week feel better. Thanks for the awesome post! Jessika / beautybyjessika.com

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks Jessika, glad you liked it! I think being self-aware enough to know that you like to switch things up is awesome. Gotta do what makes the most sense for you depending on what’s going on in your life.

  • Sandeep Goyal

    waao…. nice clothes

  • this is so relevant to me as a college student. i have found that it’s so important to budget time and it’s even harder to do so when I’m not operating on a structured 9-5 schedule. I love how it demonstrates that stress can be reduced from many different things
    – anna// chasingwellnesssite.wordpress.com/

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks, Anna! Glad it struck a chord with you. I’m self-employed so I feel you with the no structure thing — we gotta make our own and sometimes it’s so tricky.

  • Sitta Karina

    No. 8 is soooo right! When endorphin kicks in, that’s when you feel good and happy.


    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Amen! Thanks for reading, Sitta!

  • Melissa

    Great List! I advise my clients to get up 15-30 minutes earlier each day and tackle the most important task first thing! Saying no to things that are not fulfilling and productive is also a biggie!
    Melissa @SicknessBeGoneWellnessCenter

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Yes! Most important/most difficult task first always sets my day off on a good note. It’s one of the best productivity tips I’ve ever heard.

  • Maria Tarar

    A very useful article; particularly the last piece of advice!

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks, Maria!

  • Nori

    These are all really great tips. One that resonated with me so well is scheduling leisure time. Sometimes its easier to hustle than to sleep haha

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      I feel you on that! Sleep and rest are huge, though — they’ll help you hustle that much harder when you actually need to. Thanks for reading, Nori!

  • Meg Sharpley

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I absolutely love The Everygirl as it constantly caters to women and I often find myself being able to relate to the posts. This one is especially good in midterm season right now and with the holidays coming up. It is a reminder to slow down in our lives and focus on what really matters. I will no doubt be trying out some of your tips. Feel free to check out my own tips at The Busy Babe – https://thebusybabe.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/5-habits-of-highly-productive-people/

    • Paige Ashley Smith

      Thanks, Meg! So happy it resonated with you.

  • Stacy

    This post is soooo for me)))) As I always try to solve several problems in 1 time, go sleep too late and need to get up early((( My problem also that I start to panic when nothing is actually happend and I’m already in panic and in “OMG How To Solve It” atmosphere))


  • N Lewis

    Thanks for your list. Its nice to have a go to list because its definitely hard to to reduce stress sometimes. I recently came across this video about what stress does to our brains, I posted the video to my blog: http://sincerelybalanced.com/2017/03/17/how-being-stressed-out-affects-your-brain/

    It’s kinda crazy what we subconsiously do to ourselves.


  • Thanks for these wonderful tips! This is just what I needed to hear right now!

    I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday,

  • These are some great tips! I need to make them work…it’s impossible to imagine how much stress are we dealing with on a daily basis!

    – Katja

  • Shopping_Without_Walls

    A definite share, need this. I also shop from home as a big time and money saver. Amazed how much time I save not driving to the store. Have you tried shopping from home? https://www.shop.com/JVGLENN

  • Nikki Laraja

    Great post, it inspired me to declutter that chaotic ‘pile up’ corner today!


  • What a great list! So great for anxiety and mental health as a whole! I feel this really resonates with a lot of individuals I know. I would highly recommend everything on this list!

  • Noha Abdelraouf

    Perfect article ! I always feel overwhelmed by so many things I need to do and it ends up leaving me lost and unfocused that I accomplish nothing and leads to frustration 🙁

  • I agree with all of these! It’s so easy to let the stresses of life take over and miss the small wonderful moments of everyday! Nighttime routines are so helpful and really do help you have a better night sleep.

  • Camille

    I love this article so much! I definitely needed this right now. Such awesome advice. It’s also creepy that you knew I watch 8 consecutive episodes of Orange is the New Black sometimes. LOL

  • I just started time blocking my schedule a couple of weeks ago and it has been a game changer so far! And I love the reminder to “stop documenting everything” – it can be so hard to be in the moment, but it’s so worth it! Thanks for the words of wisdom! <3

  • Kay Nguyen

    Great tips, love your blog! I don’t experience stress that much but when I go, it’s typically pretty bad, will apply these tips in the future <3


  • Loving these tips! Definitely ensuring you have some “me time”, exercising and catching up with friends is the best way to keep sane and reduce the stress levels. I love to light a candle, write in a journal and wind down after a long day at work!


  • I seriously love this list! needed it. thank you.


  • This list is literally EVERYTHING. It’s impossible to be a successful entrepreneur if we’re not taking care of ourselves, and we as women tend to forget this so easily!! Thanks for the reminder that I’m just as important (if not more so) than working – investing in me makes everything I do thrive.


  • Thank you for writing a great article! Making sleep a non-negotiable is a problem for me at the moment since I have a part-time job and a side-hustle that I take time out of my evening to work on. I go to bed at different times each evening but I know I need to change that.