Stress may suck, but on some level, it acts as an indicator of many things, namely, that we need to either pay attention to the situation for our safety or care for ourselves for our well-being.

I’m a sensitive person and I tend to empathize with others very easily. I also have a temper. In a perfect storm of stress factors, I can go from 0 to 60 in no time at all. It’s not difficult to imagine how common it is for me to pick up on other people’s stress or for seemingly minor things to cause me unease, irritation and concern. I often catch myself tensing up; I feel my shoulders cramp, neck and back pain, shallow breathing and my mind races. I become high-strung and I can’t think straight, Naturally, I’ve had to work out a few instant and effective de-stressors.

All of these eight tips take one hour or less, most take effect in minutes. Also, I picked eight (8) because it’s the symbol for infinity and I believe that when we’re at the heart of our (shared) greatness, we feel incredibly peaceful. Here are my go-tos!

Lotus from the Geneva Botanical Gardens, photo by Mercedes

Lotus from the Geneva Botanical
Gardens, photo by Mercedes


1-   Breathe

That’s really the first step. A deep, belly breath; in through the nose out through the nose. Close your eyes, feel the breath sweep through you, feel your tummy rise and fall.

2-   Stop Glorifying Busy

Don’t overbook yourself. Allow for buffers in your week. If you were thinking of squeezing in that extra meeting, or booking another errand in your commute to/from work or double-booking your Saturday night, don’t do it. In fact, if you can reschedule one thing without repercussions, do it. You’ll be happy you’ve left breathing room. Aaaah.

3-   Remove the Digital Clutter


Unsubscribe from mailing lists, because really, when are you ever going to read that email? Do you *need* to buy yet another appliance? You already check twitter or instagram; you don’t need the notification. You’re entitled to a clean house, digitally.

Social media

Unfollow, Unfriend, Unsubscribe. No one needs that negative friend who can’t seem to spend one day rant-free. And if you have a dear friend or relative who posts games and cat videos, maybe you just don’t need to see *all* their posts.

Clear your inbox

Use folders, flags, archive, delete. If you’ve read it, file it. If it requires action, follow-up or flag it to deal with at your earliest convenience. Delete anything that doesn’t need to be revisited (you would keep directions or instructions for instance) or that you don’t value (you might keep a friend’s touching email). Otherwise, DELETE.

4-   Remove Clutter From Your Home

Perform a clutter sweep

Give yourself 5-10 minutes to do the sweep your common areas and bedroom. Your only concern is to clear counters, tables and seats. Any trash and recycling should be disposed of. Fold blankets, replace cushions, push table chairs, wipe tables and counters. Load your dishwasher if you have one, or pile your *rinsed* dishes to be cleaned when you can. IF they aren’t rinsed and you can spare your sink (or a soak bin), ya might want to soak them. Your (near) future self will thank you.

Take a basket or two and assign a space per basket, such as “office” and “bedroom”. If you have kids, you’ll want one for their rooms. Whatever you find that belongs in those spaces you put in the basket and when you’re done, you bring those to these spaces to be sorted later. You now have a tidy kitchen, dining and living room.

Bonus: open a window or light a scented candle (go with a non-toxic option)!

5-   Care for Your Body

Get moving.

Get some fresh air, go for a walk or a stretch and don’t sit down until you’ve spent 30 minutes moving. Get the blood moving and consider it an “active meditation”.

Have a piece of a fresh fruit.

Our brains run on natural sugar and our bodies need vitamins and nutrients. Do yourself a favour and bite into something healthy. You’ll feel refreshed and your body will thank you.

Draw yourself a bath.

If you’re at home and you can manage 15-20 minutes to yourself (gosh, I hope you can!), draw yourself a warm bath. If you have sea salt or Epsom salts, throw some in for an added treat – bonus! it helps your skin detox. You can throw in a few drops of your favourite essential oil (lavender works beautifully). When you sit in the tub, focus on your breath or on how the water feels on your skin. Be present. Forgive yourself if you drift; this time is for you!

6-   Ease Your Mind

Put away the screens.

Give your racing mind a break… put away the screens and devices for one hour. If you can’t manage that, start with 30 minutes. Baby steps. When we’re using devices, we’re constantly stimulated by advertising, pop-ups, email notifications, back-lighting. This is especially true if you’re going to bed because screens stimulate a part of our brains to think it’s still daylight, which means we won’t feel sleepy and it’ll throw off our natural Zzzz’s. There are apps like influx that will convert the light to an orange-tinged back-light, but really… do you need to send that email or spend more time on Facebook? Go cuddle up to your honey, your kid or curl up with a good book or journal.

7-   Soothe Your Heart

Call a friend or loved one.

Don’t text, call. Listen to their voice or go meet them for a cup of tea. Humans respond best to faces and voices. Besides, if you meet up in person, you might get the added bonus of a hug (yay for oxytocin!).

8-   Lift Your Spirits

Consume or create something that inspires you

Read your favourite author’s blog, watch a TEDtalk or write a note or a card, or make that flower arrangement or scrapbook. Spend time in nature, taking it all in, whether it’s a park or your back yard. If you find it calming, weed or tend to your garden.

How do you bust stress in your life? What are your favourite tips? How have they helped you?