Life can feel so fraught and difficult sometimes. There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done, and it feels like you’re ‘firefighting’ rather than living.

Living like this could eventually lead to stress and burnout, leaving you mentally and physically exhausted and unwell.

While you might not be able to control all the elements that create stress in your life, you can take control of many areas of life, and greatly reduce the impact of stress on your wellbeing.

Here are 10 practical tips to bring balance and peace into your busy days. You may not be able to do them all every day, and that is fine, they are not intended to be stressful additions to the to-do list, but bringing more of them into your life will increase your wellbeing and happiness.

Breathe

The old wives’ tale, ‘Take a Deep Breath and Count to 10’ has a lot of wisdom behind it. Deep breathing calms the nervous system and relaxes the body and mind. Developing a daily practice of connecting with your breath, slowing it down and becoming in tune with your breathing can help to calm and balance the nervous system. You can turn to the breath when you feel your stress level rising and use it to give you some mental space to choose your response rather than letting your emotions take hold of you.

Gratitude

It can be so easy to focus on all the things that are wrong, difficult or lacking in your life. When you only see the problems, it can be hard to find solutions. Solutions come when you are in a solution mindset, not a problem mindset. Regularly focusing on the things that ARE good in your life, however big or small those things might be, helps your mind to shift focus to look for positives rather than negatives. Research has shown that regular gratitude practice is good for mental and physical health, and definitely leads to greater happiness and optimism.

Connect to Nature

We are wired to be a part of the environment we live in, but modern life increasingly separates us from it. Try to make time every day to be close to nature, whether this is a walk in your local park, tending to your garden or houseplants, or walking up a mountain. Being in nature is good for mental health and physical health, leaving you feeling grounded, relaxed, inspired and more joyful.

Drink plenty of water

Your body is around 60% water. We excrete water throughout the day when we go to the toilet, and in the sweat and breath. It is vital that the water lost is replaced. Dehydration can lead to a range of problems including poor focus, headaches, tiredness, dry skin and increased thirst. At the more extreme end it can lead to decreased blood pressure, coma, seizures and shock. Drinking sufficient water each day is essential to maintain good health. Try to gradually increase your water intake by setting a timer to drink a cup full every hour.

Exercise

Your body is designed to move, and it needs to move to be healthy. In addition to the health-giving properties of exercise, it also helps you to feel good, as endorphins that are produced when you exercise are your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals and reduces the stress hormone. Yoga is particularly good for this because, in addition to reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, Yoga also increases the production of GABA, the neurotransmitter that leaves you feeling at peace and happy.

Say “No” more

Do you find yourself agreeing to things you don’t want to do, then feeling stressed and resentful that you have to do it? Do you find yourself agreeing to do things, then wondering how on earth you will fit them in? Sometimes we agree to things because we don’t want to be seen as difficult or ungenerous. This casometimesme lead to you either burnt out trying to do everything, or feeling bad for letting people down because it simply isn’t possible to do it all. Neither is good for you, for your relationships, your health or self esteem. Try to say no a little more, and make sure that you are saying yes to things you can fit into your life without harming your health.

Learn new things

We are meant to keep learning and growing through life. The ides that learning stops when we leave school is, quite frankly, rubbish. When you leave school, you are responsible for what you learn, and whether consciously or not, you are always learning. Isn’t it better to focus on learning things that will take your life where you want to go, rather than filling your mind with trivialities that don’t help you guide your life’s direction. Think about what you want out of life, and then learn something every day that will take you there.

Devices out of the bedroom

Phones, laptops and other devices might seem harmless enough at the bedside, but they really do impact on the quality of your sleep. From the light emitted from the screens that affect the brain’s perception of time of day, to the constant allure of social media and netflix and endless notifications, gadgets really impact on our ability to sleep, and the quality of sleep. And given that sleep is vital for mental and physical wellbeing, it is important that you give yourself the best chance you can of getting a good night’s sleep.

Switch off time

Following on from the last point, making time each day when you step away from the devices and the ever connected world of the internet, and get fully present where you are and who you are with. This act of switching off clears space in your head, boosts your relationships and promotes a more mindful way to live. Just as your phone and laptop work better for being switched off from time to time, so do you. Try to switch off for 10 minutes a day and spend the time doing something completely different, and see how much better you feel.

Develop nourishing morning and evening routines

A good morning and evening routine will help you to start and end your day well. A good morning routine will enable you to begin your day calm, focused and clear minded. An evening routine allows you to relax and get ready for sleep at night. Your morning routine will be unique to you. Try to include some of the elements mentioned in this post. Exercise, hydration, learning, breathing and switching off are great ways to start and end your day. You can make the routine as simple as you need, and fit it in with your exact requirements.

What do you do?

Do you have practices that help you to find balance in your day? I’d love you to share them in the comments below, maybe you can inspire someone else to find balance in their life!

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Esther Nagle
Teacher, writer, speaker at Balance and Breathe
Esther is a former alcoholic, smoker and all round stressed out mess. She found the path to health, happiness, freedom and joy through Yoga. She is a passionate advocate for the power of Yoga, and time in Nature, in bringing balance to life, and giving you control over your health, happiness and wellbeing.

Esther is a powerful public speaker, writer and author. Her first book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, has gained many 5 star reviews and has helped many people along their recovery journey.

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