If you are tired of making decisions all the time - at work, at home, within your group of friends, for the school PTA... – establishing a new healthy lifestyle might add even more to the load. Having to make healthy meal choices 3 times a day, choosing between sleeping-in and going to the gym, resisting the donuts or splurging, working over your lunch break or going for a walk… This will soon become exhausting and extremely stressful.
Actually, stress is one of the main reasons people give up their wellness goals.
It is very important that you work on reducing the number of decisions you make on a daily basis. Not only it will limit your risks of making poor choices, but it will also help lower your level of stress hormones.
Let’s see how you can easily reduce the number of decisions you make every day.
1/ Simplify your life
Organize your life so that recurring choices become automatic. It’s OK to eat the same thing every single Monday, to have the exact same grocery shopping list every week, to always do the same thing at the same time with the same people for a while. Especially in stressful times! This will appease your brain.
For instance, design a meal plan for a week or 2 and use it over and over again, only tweaking your shopping list according to seasonal produce. If you need help with meal plans, let me know, I can provide that to you!
Don’t forget to put into your calendar anything you need to automate, until it really becomes a habit: meals, snacks, workouts, chores, etc.
- Get rid of stuff
Make sure you don’t have too many clothes and shoes to choose from in the morning, and that those you have are well organized in your closet. It will save you plenty of time and loads of stress. Get rid of items you are not wearing, throw away the make-up you never use, and actually do the same with everything in your house.
Clutter is known for being a huge stressor. Give stuff away, empty your home and office. Not only you will have fewer options to chose from, but you will also reduce the time it takes for your to clean up your mess. Not to mention the rewarding feeling of having other people benefit from what you can’t put to use.
- Establish routines
Have as many routines as possible in your week and link them to healthy habits.
Let me give you a few examples of stress-reducing routines:
- Always go to the gym on your way from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays;
- Go for a run every Saturday morning (rain or shine) before your usual family brunch;
- Walk around the field during your son’s soccer practice while calling friends and family.
You get the idea, right?
If you look at your calendar, there are many things that you already do regularly. Associate them to a healthy activity that you are trying to set up as a new habit, so that little by little, it will just be weird for you to do one without doing the other. Those routines can be lifesavers when you are starting to lose your motivation for living a healthy life.
2/ Establish rules
When it comes to your “diet” and exercise plan, establish “rules” that you just have to follow without having to make decisions. Any rules! They can be completely random!
For instance, I have a rule that goes: “I can eat all the treats I want but only if they are homemade”. It makes it super easy for me to “decide” whether or not I will eat a piece of cake, wherever I am. I actually don’t have a decision to make, I just follow my rule.
Your rules don’t have to make sense or be logical. They just have to work for you and be “no-brainers”. Of course, this strategy only works if you are a rule-follower. If the first thing that comes to your mind when you see a rule is “How can I bend this one?”, you might want to focus on another tip! 🙂
If you find making decisions all the time stressful, it’s important to find ways to make decisions once and for all for as many things as possible.
3/ Involve others
Of course, chances are you are not just making decisions for yourself. You are making decisions for others too, and carrying alone the burden of the consequences.
It is time to involve others everywhere they can be involved. When you plan meals for the week, involve your family. When you plan vacations, nights out, getaways, potlucks, meetings, etc. Let others make as many decisions as possible and just be the coordinator if you really want to have control. Or you can even go further and let others handle it all while you become “just” an active participant. Remember, whatever you do, pretty much anyone else can do it too… as long as you let them do it THEIR way 🙂
Be careful though, involving others might add to your stress if it adds a lot of coordination and mediation. So make sure you are really letting go. Remember what your goals is: you want to have fewer decisions to make, you want to lower your stress level, you want to free some brain space so that you can keep your focus on what really matters to you: your health, your wellness goals, your well-being.
When you involve others, LET GO! Don’t micromanage. If the grandparents are watching the kids, let them decide what they do and when they go to bed. You are here today, right? So the grandparents must have done something right! If your spouse is cooking, just sit back and enjoy the meal. It might not be what YOU want, but remember when people do their thing, they might just do it THEIR perfect way.
How do you lower your stress NOW?
- Go and look at everything you do in a week.
- Look at what you can automate, at the routines you can establish, at the rules you can put in place, and at the people you can involve. Don’t forget the kids!
- Set some time in your schedule for the coming month to go through your house and office to do some cleanup. Get rid of stuff!
- Tell people around you about what you are doing and ask them where they would like to get involved.
- Start today and make one small change right away.
If you struggle or if you feel that your stress load comes from different places, reach out to me. I have tools and resources that could help you a lot with stress management.