Evelyn Smith, MA LCMHC, CTTS-M, is an EFAP Counselor & Tobacco Treatment Specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Evelyn Smith, MA LCMHC, CTTS-M, is an EFAP Counselor & Tobacco Treatment Specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Stress and anxiety can sabotage our efforts to make healthy choices. Here are four surefire ways you can organize your life to avoid stress.

Be sure to get more health and wellness tips – and win prizes for picking up healthy habits – through the UVM Medical Center’s “Healthy New You Tip-a-Day Giveaway” on Facebook.

1. Build Your Storehouse of Energy by Paying Yourself First. Many wealth managers suggest that when we get paid, we pay ourselves first.  To be a really good stress manager, I suggest applying this same principle to your time and energy. The concept behind this is that you give yourself a message of respect and care. Make time for yourself on a daily basis to relax and do something that brings you enjoyment. The idea of re-charging your battery first may be counter -intuitive, but in so doing, you have a “storehouse” of energy so that you have enough to be able to share it with others. This translates simply into treating yourself well every day; doing something nice for you. We owe it to ourselves to be good stewards of our time and energy. What will you do for yourself today?

2. Plan Ahead…One Day at a Time. Look at your calendar and see what you have to attend to one day at a time.  If you want to go to the gym, write it into your calendar and get the bag ready with all you need; think about what you plan to wear for work; put your car keys in the same location always; lightly plan out your menu for the week and shop for the foods you will need. Planning ahead will help you be more centered and less frantic if something does go awry. Try an online calendar, like DayViewer, to get started.

3. Set Healthy Boundaries. It is okay to know your limits and say “no” as well as to delegate or suggest another option if you already have enough on your plate.  There are no rules saying that you have to do it all or be the one who always goes the extra mile. How do you say no in a positive way? Here are some suggestions: Use the word “don’t” – research shows that it is more powerful than “can’t”:

  • “I don’t skip workouts. Could we plan getting together another evening?”
  • “I don’t eat artificial sweeteners. What else can we serve at the party?”

Or, put a positive spin on things:

  • “I always exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Could we plan on getting together on a Tuesday or Thursday.

4. Make a Plan to Live a Clutter Free Life. “Clutter happens” and so we need to keep pace with it and on a regular basis make an effort or a routine plan of clearing things we do not use or need. On a daily or weekly basis, it is a good habit to get into of clearing piles of paper, magazine, empty containers, kitchen gadgets, or even clothing. There are many places to make donations and pass along items that someone else can benefit from.

One simple suggestion is to clear 10 to 20 items from your closet or cupboard that you have not used.  If you do this as a routine practice once or twice a month, it can be a very helpful method of stress and clutter reduction.

Evelyn Smith, MA LCMHC, CTTS-M, is an EFAP Counselor & Tobacco Treatment Specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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