Member Articles

Write an article!

20 very easy tips for lowering your daily stress level

They're simple things that can really make a difference

by Gretchen Rubin  |  19478 views  |  8 comments  |        Rate this now! 

When we’re stressed, we tend to become more stressed. That’s because when we’re rushed and harried, we cut corners. We don’t take the time to do the little things that, though not difficult or time-consuming themselves, can end up saving enormous amounts of time and trouble.

For example, buying stamps isn’t stressful, and buying a roll of stamps isn’t any more stressful than buying 20 stamps, but realizing that you’ve run out of stamps when you’ve waited to the last possible day to pay your bills is STRESSFUL.

And it seems to be a natural law that every car’s gas gauge hits “empty” at the moment of maximum inconvenience.

As a kid, I was puzzled by the meaning of the old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Now I know what it means. And it’s a very sensible saying. It means that if you make one stitch when it’s needed, you’ll save yourself the trouble of having to make nine stitches later.

Similarly, one of the best ways to lower the stress level in your life is to discipline yourself to do the little things that will help keep stress at bay.

These tasks don’t seem particularly important, and they’re easy to skip when you’re rushed, but if neglected, they can snowball into major stress. So, if you feel like your stress level is high, try to tick off some items on this list. A little effort now means a lot less stress, later.

2.) Get up 20 minutes earlier than usual.

3.) Before you go to sleep, prepare for the morning.

4.) Bring a hat and an umbrella.

5.) Don’t wear tight clothes or uncomfortable shoes.

6.) Make a list.

7.) Listen to a favorite song.

8.) Keep extra cash and stamps in the house.

9.) Be polite and be fair.

10.) Laugh out loud.

11.) Have a good book to read.

12.) Keep an extra set of keys.

13.) Exercise.

14.) Always keep your passport in the same place.

15.) Throw something away.

16.) Don’t say mean things about other people.

17.) Put a Bandaid in your wallet.

18.) Keep gas in the car.

19.) Pay attention to someone else.

20.) Make your bed.

What am I overlooking? If you can think of other suggestions for little steps to ward off stress, please post them. I’m sure we all need them.

About the Author

In her blog, The Happiness Project (, Gretchen Rubin recounts her daily adventures as she test-drives the wisdom of the ages and current scientific research about how to be happier.

Read more by Gretchen Rubin

8 comments so far...

  • I always keep an "emergency" bill inside the car manual, inside the glove compartment. It saves me when I run out of gas unexpectedly, have no change for the parking lot, or realize I forgot to buy diapers and only have one left in the diaper bag! a hidden- REAL EMERGENCY bill that you only touch in case of a real emergency is great"!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by teacher paola on 25th June 2011

  • One way to be less stressed is by honing your ability to say NO to friends, family (spouse, children, mother, in-laws), and coworkers whose requests add to our anxiety (mine for sure) and and prevent us from finishing most things or for even getting to them. Well-placed NOs allow you keep your life in better control and not feel overwhelmed and anxious. For help staring to say NO, see

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Susan Newman, Ph.D. on 3rd January 2009

  • One of the simplest ways to decrease stress for me is to know what's going on without having to dig for the information. With four kids (in four different districts) and a husband who works a rotating schedule, this can be a challenge! I have an agenda and a huge calendar and each person in our family has their own highlighter color - this way it is easier to pinpoint what I need to know! I also do as much as possible the night before, which saves us so much running around time in the mornings!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rikki on 21st October 2008

  • I LOVE this list. I actually went to bed earlier last night and woke up earlier this morning, and managed to get to work on time for a change. I am now a believer!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Tee_N_DC on 8th August 2008

  • Thank you for your tips they were really helpful. Sweet Tea.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Sweet Tea on 11th July 2008

  • Your list is priceless! It's the ultimate pivot life. Have everything within reach and any stress can be dealt with.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Dr Christopher on 23rd June 2008

  • I'm not at all organized & I fluster easily so I strive to maintain order in my home. Here are some stratagies I've developed over a lifetime of suffering from self induced stress:
    1.I keep extra sets of things I need: Lots of baby bottles, tuppware, towels, bed linens, wardrobe staples socks, babyT's, white blouses for, lots of under pinnings, etc. This way I don't have to wash everything every week or be caught having to rewear something. It doesn't have to be expensive.Just pick up an extra pack of bed sheets, babyT's or whatever every so often until you get enough to go 2 weeks w/o having to do laundry
    2. I keep 7 Baby bags packed & ready to go, each w/ a days worth of formula, bottles, pampers wipes, bibs, T's, toys, tylenol, etc & a copy of emeregncy info, a calling card etc. I line them up by the door, pick one up every morning & plop it at the end of the line when I get home. Saves time & sanity. 3.Saturdays & Sundays are prep days: meats are cleaned seasoned & portioned , ready to be thrown in the oven, outfts for the whole fam are picked out, for the week (accesseries hung on the hangers) etc. It's easier to switch out a blouse or scarf from an otherwise put together outfit than to put one together from scratch. 4.Buy in bulk
    5.When folding laundry, keep things together:Things to be hung together, my socks seperate from my husbands, Work shirts seperate from after work etc. That way you can grab a pile & stick it in it's place in one shot.
    6.Color coded laundry bins:White, Delicates, Baby etc.Eliminates sorting.
    7.Set up alerts on my email & cell phone for birthdays, bills etc.
    8. I send out all my birthday ecards at the beginning of each month. It's eco friendly & no one feels slighted by my "absent mindedness".
    9. Have a "command center". For me it's a space by in my kitchen but it could be a file cabinet,pile of boxes or drawer.Somewhere things are always put & therefore easily found. EX:All bills, insurence & emergency docs. etc. I also have a huge family calender w/ appts, bill, extra pre-addressed envelopes, stamps & things, etc.

    Hope this helps someone!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Christie on 8th May 2008

  • Wow - what a fantastic list! With 3 kids at different schools and their extra-curricular activities, I try to keep the same stuff in each car so we already have it -- extra sweatshirt/sweatpants, snack bags, water bottles, first aid kit, spare change, etc. It just makes things less stressful, when you have stuff available!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by BlapherMJ on 6th April 2008