1. Make your bed. Starting off each day with this small ritual can help create a calm environment for you in your bedroom. Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, writes that many people benefit from making this modest step part of their routines. By checking it off your to-do list first thing, you’ve got one less thing to worry about for the rest of the day.
2. Pack a snack. Before you head out the door in the morning, go into the kitchen and grab a fruit (like a banana, apple or grapes) or a healthy snack (like unsalted nuts or low-fat cheese). This way, when a case of the munchies strikes later in the afternoon, you won’t be reaching for a bag of chips or a candy bar from the vending machine out of convenience. Besides, you know what they say about an apple a day.
3. Clear your desk. You may not be able to overhaul your closet in five minutes, but you can manage to tidy your desk at work. From stray papers to scattered coffee mugs, clutter can make you lose focus and curb productivity. Declutter your outer environment and you may feel lighter on the inside and more motivated to concentrate on the task at hand.
4. Pump up the music. Several studies have found that listening to music can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost mood. The right music has the power to change your attitude. So load up your MP3 player and create a special playlist that will make you smile — whether you’re working or working out.
5. Sniff a lemon. For a quick de-stressing trick, turn to an underrated sense — your sense of smell. Japanese researchers found that linalool; a substance found in lemons, has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the flight-or-fight stress response. Other scents like basil, juniper, and lavender have also been found to lower stress.
6. Stretch. You don’t have to be a yogi to benefit from light stretching. Lift your arms above your head at your desk. Or better yet, stretch your legs by walking outside. Stretching can help improve your circulation and flexibility and may help ease the tight muscles that accompany stress.
7. Meditate or Hypnosis. Try meditation and deep breathing to relax and turn your mind off. You don’t need any special equipment to practice meditation. Find a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Meditating or listening to hypnosis tapes on a daily basis, even just for a few minutes, has been shown to fight depression and ease stress.
8. Keep a gratitude diary. Take a minute every day to write down several things you’re thankful for, whether they’re big or small things. It’s easy to vent about weather, traffic, or job woes, but complaining brings negative energy along with it. Being thankful for what you have can make you appreciate all the positives in your life.
9. Turn off your electronics. Just because we live in a wired world doesn’t mean you need to stay connected every minute of every single day. Staring at computer screens and electronics all day long can zap your energy and encourage inactivity. So log off your email, phones, and the Internet (yes, social networking websites count, too). This is especially important to allow you to unwind and relax before bed.
10. Prioritize. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have multiple tasks crowding your mind. Make a list and finish your most dreaded duties first to avoid the anxiety caused by procrastination. Make a list and check off each task as you complete it. At the end of the day, a list of accomplishments is a great visual reminder of how productive you were.