Compose yourself!

5 steps to A stress-free life

Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 3:16 p.m.

When your life is out of order, stress isn't far behind. And when stress levels are high, things at work or home may become disarrayed or overlooked.


5 steps to A stress-free life uses a team of health experts, writers and Web professionals to offer information that helps people understand, prevent and resolve life's challenges. Here are five ways to manage stress that go beyond eating healthy, exercising, mediating and getting enough sleep:
1. Avoid unnecessary stress: Not all stress can be avoided, and it's not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
2. Learn how to say "no." Avoid people who stress you out. Take control of your environment. Pare down your to-do list.
3. Adapt to the stressor: If you can't change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
4. Accept the things you can't change: Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can't prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it's easier than railing against a situation you can't change.
5. Make time for fun and relaxation: Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself.
- Lashonda Stinson Curry

Getting organized and reducing stress are often-heard New Year's resolutions, and believe it or not, the two issues go hand in hand.

Marcia Ramsland, dubbed "The Organizing Pro," has been a professional organizer and speaker for 25 years and said the link between stress and disorganization is strong.

She said one of the main reasons people resolve to get organized is because they want to reduce the stress in their lives.

Her books include "Simplify Your Time: Stop Running & Start Living" and "Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way."

"When you work orderly, you think orderly. A clear mind is such a valuable asset and it truly is important to your overall well-being to close up loose ends as you go along in the day," said Ramsland, who offers many articles and tips about organization at

Ramsland, whose expert advice has appeared in Real Simple and Women's Day magazines, said the main tools needed to get organized are a planner or notebook to write down to-do lists, an e-mail system that screens and has folders and filters and practicing organized habits.

Also, try to accomplish at least one thing every half-hour throughout the day.

Ramsland has come up with one way to clear your mind and space: "the two-minute pick up."

Anytime you leave a room or desk, she said, pick up items and put them away and leave a note there of what to do next. This method, she said, should help reduce about 80 percent of the stress.

"Clear your desktops and countertops," she said. "You accomplish more in less time when you keep them clear. Piles mean the system is broken, but when you put them away, your systems are supporting you."

Kim Komando's syndicated technology column, "CyberSpeak," recently highlighted iPhone/iPod touch applications that will help with both goals.

The free app "Stress Check" provides a 20-question assessment test and, based on your answers, will determine the source of the stress. For $5.99, the application "2Do" helps manage your tasks on a view-friendly calendar and sends notifications and e-mail alerts about upcoming errands and appointments.

But Gretchen Rubin offers a different approach.

She said many people get caught up with getting organized when they need to focus on getting rid of things.

Rubin is the author of the new book "The Happiness Project," which chronicles the one year she spent implementing "the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier."

Forget about the organizing boxes, bins, shelves and drawers. If you don't need it or haven't used it in years, trash it or donate it, Rubin advised.

"If you don't keep it, you don't have to organize it. A huge amount of clutter is the result of keeping things you don't use," she wrote on her blog. "It can be painful to admit that you aren't going to use certain possessions, but all that junk just gets in your way. Be honest with yourself."

Lashonda Stinson Curry is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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