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8 simple ways to eliminate some stress from your life

Karen Burke is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

Stress less with time management, ergonomics and other tips

For many of us, stress is as much a part of life as brushing our teeth in the morning. The stress triggers in our life can include finances, time management, work issues, medical ailments, relationship troubles, traffic or changes and unexpected circumstances. Stress is bad for our health and mental well-being. Often, the events that cause us stress are not ones that can be solved quickly and easily, and dealing with the stress these events cause is, well, stressful.

We must learn to combat the stress so that our minds and bodies are strong enough to deal with the root cause of it. Relieving the stress we feel because of financial issues can give us the breathing space we need to start researching debt consolidation or other ways to minimize unnecessary expenses.

Ergonomics has been defined as “the science that studies human stress and strain related to activities.” Following these ergonomic tips can help to reduce stress in your work place and in your life:

1. Rest at home

Naturally, you know that you should get a good night’s sleep; however, many people who are under stress find sleep to be elusive. To give yourself the gift of a restful night:

  • Invest in a good mattress, one that is firm but allows you to comfortably change positions during the night

  • Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees

  • Relax before bedtime with some chamomile tea, a good book or some meditation — and turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime

2. Rest at work

Even when you get a good night’s sleep, it is important to give your body and mind a rest during the day. Take a break every hour (set an alarm to remind yourself) to do some stretches, walk around or chat with a friend.

3. Reduce clutter

Clutter has been scientifically proven to raise stress levels. So, to reduce the latter, reduce the former. Clean up your desk, your purse and your car. Declutter your computer desktop and the apps on your phone. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Invest five or ten minutes at the end of each day to decluttering your environment.

4. Create time

One great cause of stress for many people is a feeling (some would argue it's a reality) that there isn’t enough time for everything that needs to be accomplished. One way to create time is to start the day a few minutes earlier. While sleep is crucial, so is starting the day with a sense of calm and abundance of time. If it means setting the alarm for 10 minutes earlier, do it — and then go to bed 10 minutes earlier.

5. Take vacation time

Days off are for recharging, renewing and refreshing. Whether it is a weekend or a yearly break, take vacation time as an opportunity to disconnect from external elements and reconnect with your internal ones.

6. Hydrate

Water is linked to stress reduction. Scientific studies show that your cortisol hormone levels increase from being just half-a-liter dehydrated. Keep a large bottle of water on your desk to make hydration easy and keep the cortisol levels in balance. Aim for six to eight cups of straight water — not coffee or soda — each day.

7. Use ergonomic furniture

Color, design and comfort — these are all things we consider when buying furniture, but getting a mocha-colored chair or a latte-colored sofa will have no effect on your stress levels. Considering ergonomic furniture features will dramatically decrease your level of stress. Opt for chairs with adjustable heights, seat backs and arm rests, and use desks that accommodate both sitting and standing positions.

8. Be attentive to your posture

Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Your feet should sit flat on the floor
  • Your upper and lower legs should bend at the knee at a right angle
  • Your back should be upright and your neck straight
  • Your upper and lower arms should also be at right angles
  • Keep your wrists straight, with the fingers dangling down comfortably
  • Do not crane your head and shoulders forward to look at the computer screen — your neck isn’t designed to hold the weight

Reducing stress doesn’t have to be stressful

Sometimes, a list like this one may seem like eight more things you must get done. This is not one of those lists. In fact, reducing stress is so beneficial that doing it should be fun. Think of ways to make a game out of this. You could enlist the help of a de-stressing buddy and help each other along. You could gamify the list to give yourself a little reward for each of these eight items you complete successfully. Or do both — get a friend to do this with you and give each other small rewards for each success!

Karen Burke is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

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