Being organized is for those people to whom it comes naturally. That’s what I used to think. I’ve never been a tidy person. I like to keep papers handy and use lots of post-it notes scattered around my desk and work space. I would tidy up by moving a pile of junk from one spot to another so my home and office were never tidy. But this all changed. Once I had to learn new ways to deal with stress, my mind was changed on this whole concept of being organized.
I was always busy with work or a home project and then when I had kids too there was never time for getting organized. I’ve always thought being organized was a waste of time compared to what I could be doing with my time. But, when my stress levels started soaring, lots of things changed.
I had several health problems diagnosed, I had to move house four times in 18 months, I was a single mother with young kids, my cortisol levels were sky high all the time and I was told I was suffering from chronic stress.
Lots needed to change. I needed to learn new ways to deal with stress. None of this happened overnight and correspondingly, you can’t fix chronic stress overnight. It creeps up on your over time and it takes time to fix.
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Ways to Deal with Stress Starting Today
The other problem with chronic stress is that you’re not in a good position to find the solution yourself. I was suffering from brain fog, my cognitive functions were slower and my body was coping with physical symptoms from health problems.
You can’t just take a pill and go back to your normal self once you’re diagnosed with chronic stress. For this reason it is a journey involving many small steps.
At the same time as taking medications and supplements I was trying to do my best to reduce the stress in my life. Not an easy process!
Once of the biggest changes, which is actually a small change, that you can make in your life today is learning about the ways to deal with stress by getting organized. You can do this in every area of your life but you only need to start getting organized in one area so you don’t overwhelm yourself.
Don’t take on too much too soon
Being organized may not seem like a powerful technique when it comes to reducing stress. Let’s face it, we mostly hear of methods like meditation, controlled breathing, visualization etc as being effective ways to deal with stress. No one really talks about being neat and organized. It doesn’t sound like a solution.
Yet, keeping things simple and organized is one of the best ways to deal with stress in your life. Not only does it reduce irritation but it can help in other ways you may not be aware of.
What are the consequences?
When you minimize irritation and microaggressions, you also help yourself to de-stress without realizing it. When you can find things at the time you need them you don’t lead on to the bad consequences when you can’t find them. For example, I used to receive bills in the mail and I’d put them in a “safe” place. You know the place, that one somewhere in the house never to be seen again. The consequences were that I’d miss the payment deadline, have to pay a late fee and as my financial situation was getting worse this would impact on my stress levels.
By not being organized my kids would go to school without the right books, homework or other items that they needed for the day. They’d be cranky after school because they had a bad day dealing with the consequences and this would impact on all of us at home.
My lack of organization even meant I couldn’t find the right clothes when I needed them. We were in a mess. When I needed warm clothes for the kids to keep them healthy and avoid catching coughs and colds I wouldn’t be able to find them. Hence more health consequences.
Doubling up on ridiculous items
And when I couldn’t find something I usually ended up buying that item again. This was costing me a fortune at a time I really couldn’t afford it. I even bought a second laminator machine for one of the kids school projects because I couldn’t find the one we already had. No family needs two laminators!
I was doubling up on ridiculous items because I didn’t know how to be organized.
Little problems build up
When it comes to work, if your desk is cluttered and you can’t find a document that you need, you’ll end up searching for it and wasting time and effort. If you can’t find it after a few minutes of searching, you’re going to lose patience and start getting irritable. It’s definitely going to stress you out. This is definitely not one of the best ways to deal with stress.
This applies to any area in your life. Can’t find your car keys just when you’re about to leave the house? That’s aggravating. Sat down on the chair to watch TV but the remote is nowhere in sight? Time to start cursing as you flip over the couch cushions. Open the fridge and pour yourself a glass of milk only to spit it out and gag because the milk is sour and has gone bad? That’s annoying and even mildly funny the following day.
All these little stresses when repeated on a daily basis will lead to frazzled nerves and an irritable nature that gets triggered easily. All of these could have been avoided if you were organized. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to be neat and tidy. Like Benjamin Franklin once said, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Let’s take a look, where to start…
1. Start Tidying – You’ll Never Know If You Don’t Try
If you don’t try getting organized you’ll never know how much of a difference it could make in your life.
Tidy up your home, your office, your desk, the kids’ bedrooms, the laundry, everything. Whatever you use should be neat and organized. The Japanese are very strong believers in tidiness and their factories and offices are usually in impeccable order. Employees are expected to keep their desks neat and organized.
That essentially means straightening up and only keeping what you need. We know this as decluttering. You’ll store whatever you need in its rightful place. You’ll clean up after yourself and strive to maintain this sense of order daily.
If you can maintain this on a regular basis, you’ll find that your life becomes much easier. Like they say, organized people are just too lazy to look for things… and you won’t have to because you’ll know exactly where everything is. And that means one less thing on your mind to help remove the stress.
Imagine the amount of stress you won’t have to face from constantly looking for misplaced items, especially if you’re in a rush. That, in itself, is good enough reason to get everything in order as soon as possible.
2. Keep a List – But Here’s the Trick to Doing It Properly
One of the biggest reasons that people feel overwhelmed is because they try to keep too many things in their head. Projects, family commitments, pending things that need to be done… and there’s so many things to do but not enough time to get them done.
Mentally it all seems like too much to handle. The first thing to do is write down all that you need to do. Keep a list and add on to it whatever new issues crop up that need to be taken care of.
When you’re looking for ways to deal with stress, the trick is to know how to use lists. You don’t want to be making list after list and losing them and trying to remember which list is which.
The trick is to only have ONE list. Just one. Sure, you can have one for home and one for work but that’s it. Find a cute notebook that you can write your list in or use an app on your phone, whatever works for you. But only write one list.
Now you have a list of exactly what you need to do and it’ll seem more manageable. In your head, it all seems too much to handle. Once you have it on paper and you start checking off what you need to do, you’ll be more focused, less stressed and be amazed at how fast you complete your tasks. It’s very satisfying to start checking the items off as you do them. This will help you to reduce the stress.
3. Kaizen – a Technique for You
Does getting organized seem overwhelming at the moment? If you’re looking for ways to deal with stress almost everything may seem overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there. But there is a way to do a little at a time.
The Japanese have a practice known as ‘Kaizen’ which is just a way of saying continual improvement. What that means is that you constantly strive to be better at what you do by making small improvements over time.
For example, if you’re about to go to bed and your living room is a little messy, you may wish to clean it up a little before you hit the sack. This will maintain the order in your house.
If you have a ton of documents in your office that need a proper filing system, you could dedicate 15 minutes a day every day before you leave work to file your paperwork. Over time, you’ll have organized everything well. Some projects are time-consuming. By doing a little daily, you’ll be able to complete these massive tasks with relative ease.
Apply the 3 tips above and get your life organized. Get the small stuff organized so that your energy is not sapped by little annoyances and you’re not overcome by extra financial burdens. By starting today, you’ll be better able to handle the big stuff in life without getting overly stressed.
There are ways to deal with stress and this is one of the easy ways to try. By using organization as one of the solutions to your stress you’ll not only improve your own existence but help to remove stress from those around you too.
⇒ Looking for unusual ways to exercise to reduce stress? See more here.