stress en-US 26 Quick Ways to Have Fun (No Matter Where You Are) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/26-quick-ways-to-have-fun-no-matter-where-you-are" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman eating candy" title="woman eating candy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you are stressed or tired, bored, or blah, or just looking to make your life better than it already is, having fun makes you happy. However, sometimes you have to be intentional about cultivating fun in your life. While there are millions of ways to have fun, it can be hard to think of these things when you're not at your best. Here is a short list to get you started! (See also: <a href="">Free Outdoor Fun</a>)</p> <h2>1. Tell a Cheesy Joke</h2> <p>Even if only to yourself. Better yet, get a small group of friends or coworkers together, have each <a href="">person learn a different joke</a>, and then share them with each other.</p> <h2>2. Plan a Vacation</h2> <p>You don't have to actually <em>go</em> for this to add to the fun factor of your day.</p> <h2>3. Enjoy a Funny GIF or Two</h2> <p><a href="">GIFs are great pick-me-ups</a> because they are short but silly.</p> <h2>4. Take a Silly Selfie</h2> <p>If you like the way it comes out, share it with your friends on Instagram or Facebook.</p> <h2>5. Play Pretend With Your Kid</h2> <p>Spend five minutes playing pretend with a child. Take on whatever role they ask you to, even if it means acting like a dinosaur or a bird. (See also: <a href="">Free Ways to Entertain Kids</a>)</p> <h2>6. Point and Giggle</h2> <p>Laugh at the funny, awkward things <a href="">other people post on Facebook</a>.</p> <h2>7. Turn a Cartwheel</h2> <p>If you don't know how, do a somersault instead.</p> <h2>8. Pick a Flower</h2> <p>If you can, pick a small bouquet and put them where you will be able to see them all day.</p> <h2>9. Sing Your Favorite Song</h2> <p>And do it as loud as you can. If you don't have the privacy to do this, close your eyes for a minute or two and pretend that you are singing.</p> <h2>10. Send a Postcard to a Stranger</h2> <p>Join <a href="">Postcrossing</a> to send and receive a random postcard from somewhere in the world. Sometimes, you can even cultivate a pen pal relationship with the person on the other end.</p> <h2>11. Take a Quiz</h2> <p>Determine whether you'd <a href="">survive a zombie apocalypse</a>. Compare your results with those of your friends, and come up with a long-term survival plan.</p> <h2>12. Learn a New Trick</h2> <p>It's always fun to understand how magic tricks work. So <a href="">learn a trick</a> and perform it for someone. Children are especially enthusiastic about these sorts of things.</p> <h2>13. Get Your Awkward On</h2> <p>Pose (and take) an <a href="">awkward family photo</a>.</p> <h2>14. Learn About the Rest of the World</h2> <p>Play <a href="">Geoguessr</a> and find out how well you know the world. Challenge a friend to a contest.</p> <h2>15. Enjoy a Hobby</h2> <p>Spend five minutes on your favorite hobby. It's not very long, but if you spend five minutes a day, over time you will see progress on a project that you love. See also: <a href="">Awesome Money-Making Hobbies</a>)</p> <h2>16. Turn Up the Music and Have a Dance Party</h2> <p>If other people are around, challenge them to a dance off.</p> <h2>17. Pick a Meme, Any Meme</h2> <p>Find your favorite <a href="">Internet meme</a> and come up with as many captions as you can in five minutes. Get your friends to vote on which is the funniest.</p> <h2>18. Get Pranky</h2> <p>Play a prank on someone. Choose someone who will find it funny. Bonus fun if you start a prank war.</p> <h2>19. Skip to My Lou</h2> <p>Add in a skip every 10 steps. Raise your eyebrows at anyone who gives you a funny look.</p> <h2>20. Go All Out</h2> <p>Exercise intensely for as long as you can. This gets those endorphins flowing, which can help you feel like you're having fun all day. (See also: <a href="">Easy Ways to Make Exercise More Fun</a>)</p> <h2>21. Celebrate the Little Things</h2> <p>Give high-fives, send cards, or invite someone over for dinner to make the most of a small victory.</p> <h2>22. Play a Game From Childhood</h2> <p>Try Red Rover, Ring Around the Rosey, or Duck, Duck, Goose. If you're alone, try spinning in circles until you fall down.</p> <h2>23. Party Hardy</h2> <p>Throw an impromptu party, even if it's only for five minutes in your cubicle. You can even have a simple theme and ask people to bring candy, make masks, or whatever.</p> <h2>24. Get Your Hands Dirty</h2> <p>Try fingerpainting. Or Play-Doh. Or modeling clay. Spend a few minutes doing something that is both creative and hands-on.</p> <h2>25. Make Water Balloons</h2> <p>Toss them at a friend, see how long you can throw one until it breaks, or have an all-out water balloon war.</p> <h2>26. Go on an Adventure</h2> <p>This can be as simple as trying out a different grocery store, or as complicated as planning a vacation for your family.</p> <p><em>How do you add fun into your day? What do you do when you need a pick-me-up?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="26 Quick Ways to Have Fun (No Matter Where You Are)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entertainment General Tips fun stress stress relief Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:24:19 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1136129 at Best Money Tips: Saving Time and Reducing Stress <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-saving-time-and-reducing-stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="relaxed" title="relaxed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some stellar articles on saving time and reducing stress, how to do the right tasks in the right order, and the biggest tax audit triggers.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">The 5 Commandments for Saving Time and Reducing Stress</a> &mdash; If you want to save time and reduce stress, organize and balance your time. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="">How to Do the Right Tasks in the Right Order</a> &mdash; Prioritizing and doing your work first can help you do the right tasks in the right order. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="">Biggest Tax Audit Triggers</a> &mdash; Did you know foreign accounts can be a big tax audit trigger? [MainStreet]</p> <p><a href="">43 Life Lessons that Kids Teach Us</a> &mdash; Kids teach us to live fully and laugh. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">3 Shocking Benefits of Negative Thinking</a> &mdash; Negative thinking can cause you to have more accurate risk assessment. [Lifehack]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">What is Medical Tourism . . . and Why is it Becoming Popular?</a> &mdash; Medical tourism is when people travel to a different country to get cheaper rates on healthcare procedures. [Christian PF]</p> <p><a href="">6 Tips to Avoid DIY Dinner Disasters</a> &mdash; To avoid DIY dinner disasters, compare recipes and pay attention to details. [MintLife]</p> <p><a href="">40 Amazing Things You Will Never Forget</a> &mdash; Designing your own life in your own way is something amazing you will never forget. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="">How to Plan Freezer Meal Workshop</a> &mdash; When planning a freezer meal workshop, make a list of 10 meals. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="">What Do I Do When Someone Has a Domain Name I Want?</a> &mdash; If someone has a domain name you want, find out who owns the domain name. [Lifehacker]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Saving Time and Reducing Stress" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks best money tips stress time Thu, 27 Mar 2014 10:00:17 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1133199 at Best Money Tips: Stop Stressing and Start Being Productive <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-stop-stressing-and-start-being-productive" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="relaxed" title="relaxed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some stellar articles on ways to stop stressing and start being productive, getting your family more organized, and money-saving tips for freelancers.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">10 Ways to Stop Stressing and Start Being Productive</a> &mdash; If you want to stop stressing and start being productive, laugh and enjoy the moment. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="">How Can I Get My Family More Organized?</a> &mdash; To get your family more organized, hold regular family meetings. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="">6 Money-Saving Tips for Freelancers</a> &mdash; Freelancers should have an emergency fund and limit working in coffee shops. [Girls Just Wanna Have Funds]</p> <p><a href="">30 Must-Do's While You're Young Enough to Read This</a> &mdash; Remember to learn from the past but don't live in it, and pay attention to the present. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="">19 Things Your Suburban Millionaire Neighbor Won't Tell You</a> &mdash; The millionaire next door spends less than he earns and realizes that money does not buy happiness. [Len Penzo dot Com]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">Tax Tips For Freelancers</a> &mdash; If you are a freelancer, remember that your expenses should offset your income. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">6 Bad Habits That Make Work Unbearable</a> &mdash; Being lazy and not caring can make work unbearable. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="">Need a Daycare? 7 Tips for Choosing One That Works for You and Your Child</a> &mdash; When choosing a daycare, look for a nurturing environment. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="">11 Benefits of Corn You Didn't Know</a> &mdash; Did you know corn has vitamin B and prevents anemia? [Stepcase Lifehack]</p> <p><a href="">10 Entertaining Time Wasters</a> &mdash; LivePlasma and Pogo are just a couple ways to keep yourself entertained while wasting time. [How's Married Life?]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Stop Stressing and Start Being Productive" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips best money tips productive stress Thu, 13 Mar 2014 11:00:32 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1130678 at Banish Stress: Easy Ways to Get Calm Now and Forever <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/banish-stress-easy-ways-to-get-calm-now-and-forever" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman" title="woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We&#39;ve all had those moments...</p> <p>Those times when it feels as if things are spiraling out of control and you&#39;re just not sure how much more you can take. Maybe the bills are piling up, maybe your kids are acting out, or maybe it&rsquo;s just a series of smaller events, coming together to create one seriously chaotic day. (See also: <a href="">How to Have a Better Day at Work</a>)</p> <p>You know you shouldn&#39;t stress. YBut you can feel yourself reaching that &quot;up-to-here&quot; breaking point that indicates a melt down isn&#39;t far away.</p> <p>What to do?</p> <p>The most important thing is to take action... action that either attacks the source of your stress head-on or, at the very least, neutralizes the disruption of whatever obstacles currently stand in your way.</p> <p>Sometimes, identifying that action is easy. Several years ago, I found myself in a bit of a financial bind and while we were making ends meet, I just couldn&#39;t stand the idea of spending one more month pinching pennies and barely scraping by.</p> <p>So, I got a second job. Yes, this created a new stress, but it was the good kind of stress because suddenly, I was back in control. Almost immediately, I had new income to work with. I was able to put more towards my debt and still have enough to buy groceries and gas while tucking some away in savings to boot. (See also: <a href="">Stress-Free Retirement Investing</a>)</p> <p>Sometimes, however, identifying the right action isn&#39;t quite so simple. So, with that in mind, let&#39;s look at some other ways to ease your stress and help restore your inner nirvana.</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h2>Do These Things Immediately</h2> <p>When things have actually gotten away from you and you are about to blow a fuse (or already have), here&#39;s what to do to settle down now. (See also: <a href="">How to Manage Powerful Emotions</a>)</p> <h3>Breathe</h3> <p>There are a number of mental and physical changes that occur when we are under stress. Our heart rate speeds up, for example, and our muscles tense. Many have trouble focusing on a particular project and feel irritable, restless, or fatigued. We might clench our jaw, grind our teeth, or suffer from an upset stomach.</p> <p>But before any of these other things happen, we change the way we breathe, making this the key to calming down before things get out of hand.</p> <p>When we&#39;re stressed, our breathing becomes faster and more shallow, decreasing oxygen in the bloodstream and thereby exacerbating the muscle tension, headaches, and all the other symptoms that follow. The solution, then, is to slow down your breathing and <a href="">take deep, relaxing breaths</a>. Inhale through your nose and out through your mouth, making sure that you breathe deep enough to cause your abdomen to expand as you inhale.</p> <p>Fill up those lungs with fresh air, and then blow all that negative energy out as you exhale. This simple deep-breathing exercise can induce instant relief, making you feel calmer and more centered almost immediately.</p> <h3>Get Some Perspective</h3> <p>Humans are consistently good at exaggeration. Now, the reasons we exaggerate are many &mdash; our embellishments make the story more interesting, or they do a better job of proving our point of view. And then sometimes, our mind just fills in the blanks to suit its needs... in other words, we&#39;re skewing reality even when we don&#39;t mean to.</p> <p>My daughter, for instance, loves the phrase &quot;worst day ever.&quot; But is it really? Does the fact that she can&#39;t ride her bike because its raining outside really make it the most awful day she&#39;s ever experienced? Or is her disappointment clouding her perspective?</p> <p>Granted, you and I might not see a bike-riding delay as a big deal, but she does, and the stress that results is just as real for her. Forcing her to take a step back and evaluate her emotions allows her to acknowledge the frustration and work on ways to alleviate it, rather than just letting it ruin her day.</p> <p>Your day may not be going as smoothly as planned. Your boss may be in a mood, you may have been late to the BIG meeting, and your tire may have gone flat in the middle of rush hour traffic, but is it really the day from hell that you&#39;re making it out to be? Or is your agitation making it worse than it truly is?</p> <p>By distinguishing between what&#39;s real and what&#39;s embellished, you give yourself the perspective needed to move forward. Saying, &quot;this blows, but I can handle it&quot; or &quot;it is what it is... now how do I fix it&quot; puts an end to your mental spiral of exaggeration, allowing you to see the possibility of better things to come. And with a more realistic perspective, you can better deal with whatever ails you. (See also: <a href="">7 Ways to Feel Better Now</a>)</p> <h3>Massage Your Hands</h3> <p>The first time I ever treated myself to a day at the spa, I realized immediately what all the fuss was about. I felt absolutely amazing when it was all said and done&nbsp;&mdash; refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle anything.</p> <p>Unfortunately, we can&#39;t all run to the spa when stress starts to set in. But we can still tap into its ability to soothe, and the best part is you can do this one anywhere, anytime. (See also: <a href="">Spa Treatments You Can Do at Home</a>)</p> <p>Using the thumb and forefinger of one hand, start at the base knuckle of the other hand and massage your way out to each fingertip. Do one finger at a time, using a circular motion, and be sure to massage the sides of the fingers as well as the top and bottom. When you&#39;re done with the fingers, start on the hand itself by pressing your thumb into the palm (your other fingers on the &quot;top&quot; of your hand) and massage from the center outward.</p> <p>The beauty of this is that you can do it immediately, even as you sit in that meeting or wait for traffic to start moving again. It doesn&#39;t have to be a big motion and it doesn&#39;t require any concentration to do, so you can continue to function and focus on the outside world while you&#39;re massaging your stress away.</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h2>Do These Things as Soon as You Can</h2> <p>If the above quick fixes didn&#39;t settle you down, hang in there until more help arrives.</p> <h3>Walk Away</h3> <p>If you&#39;re having trouble finding perspective, it&#39;s likely because you&#39;re too immersed in the events that are causing you stress. So walk away.</p> <p>Taking a step back removes you from the situation, at least temporarily, and gives you time to think things through and reclaim your composure before you do or say something you might later regret. It&#39;s why time-outs are still a staple of parenting and why those with anxiety disorders feel the need to flee when the tension starts to set in &mdash; the stress can&#39;t escalate if it&#39;s no longer staring you in the face.</p> <p>So, go to lunch. Take a walk around the block. Go to the garage and sit in your car if nothing else, or lock yourself in the bathroom. Give yourself some quiet time to ponder and postulate, to breathe and count to 10. It&#39;s also a great opportunity to practice some positive self-talk and even walk through different scenarios to decide how best to address your problem.</p> <h3>Clean</h3> <p>If you&#39;ve read any of my previous posts on Wise Bread, then you know that organization isn&#39;t my thing. Unless I&#39;m angry, that is. And then everything gets cleaned. (See also: <a href="">5 Best All-Purpose Cleaners</a>)</p> <p>Cleaning gives me time to clear my head. It allows me to work out my frustrations in a healthy, physical way that won&#39;t result in jail time or a restraining order. It&#39;s therapeutic and gives me the sense of being back in control &mdash; as in, I&#39;ll show you, bad neighbor; I&#39;ll clean out my closet and there&#39;s nothing you can do to stop me.</p> <p>Yes, that might sound silly, but it works, and when you&#39;re done, you can marvel at your sparkling counters and freshly scrubbed floors before collapsing on the couch for a well-earned nap.</p> <h3>Make a List</h3> <p>I love lists. Lists help identify what needs to be done, steps that need to be taken, the path you must walk to get from <em>here</em> to <em>there</em>. And when you&#39;re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, this is an easy way to get back some of that perspective we talked about earlier.</p> <p>The key to making your list-therapy work is to get specific. Don&#39;t just jot down vague to-dos &mdash; list items that you can accomplish quickly to bring order back into your life. When I go on a cleaning-binge for example, I do the dishes first. It&#39;s a small job that doesn&#39;t take long to complete, and I get an immediate sense of accomplishment. I don&#39;t necessarily make a list of things to clean, but the logic is still the same. (See also: <a href="">How to Make Your Lists More Effective</a>)</p> <p>Likewise, if its my workload that&#39;s causing me stress, I tackle some of the smallest jobs first, because I can then cross them off my list. I may still have the bigger projects looming over me, but hey, look at how much I got done today! And in those instances where there&#39;s nothing you can actually do to conquer the stressor itself, list out some things that would make you feel better instead.</p> <p>If you hate your job, then formulate a plan to update your resume to find a new one. If your car is a hunk of junk, then work out a plan for making necessary repairs or replacing it with something better. And if all else fails, make a list of the things you&#39;d like to learn, have and do within the next year. This, by the way, is my favorite list to make because it puts me in a much more optimistic frame of mind.</p> <p>And when you have a positive mindset, there&#39;s nothing you can&#39;t handle.</p> <h3>Take a Bath</h3> <p>Obviously, if you&#39;re at work, this will have to wait, but if you can &mdash; as soon as you can &mdash; jump in the tub. Add lots of bubbles or some soothing bath oils if you have them on hand and then sink down into that warm water until your face is the only thing that shows.</p> <p>While you&#39;re there, imagine all your worries just washing away. Close your eyes and listen to the &quot;nothing&quot; under water and simply allow yourself a moment to just be. Breathe deeply (you&#39;ve been practicing, haven&#39;t you?) and let the scents and the silence permeate every inch of your body, even that last, frayed nerve.</p> <h3>Call in Support</h3> <p>There is nothing that will improve your disposition faster than surrounding yourself with people who make no demands and love you unconditionally. This could be your family or a close circle of friends &mdash; as long as they&#39;re supportive and loving, they&#39;ll do just fine.</p> <p>You need people who will listen while you vent, people who will help you find that perspective, figure out solutions, and most importantly, pull you up when you&#39;ve been wallowing in your own drama for too long. These are the people who keep you honest, but have your back even in the darkest of alleys.</p> <p>Keep them close and lean on them when you need to. Their support will make you stronger. (See also: <a href="">Why Cultivating Relationships Is Good for You</a>)</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h2>Do These Things For Long-Term Stress Management</h2> <p>While you won&#39;t be able to avoid stress altogether, you can make it manageable by attacking it at its source and being sure to take care of you. (See also: <a href="">How to Solve Your Problem</a>)</p> <h3>Under Promise, Over Deliver</h3> <p>Is part of your stress caused by too many obligations? Sometimes it&#39;s hard to set realistic expectations and even harder to say &quot;No&quot; altogether, but it&#39;s an ability you need to acquire if you want to reduce your stress. (See also: <a href="">5 Ways to Say &ldquo;No&rdquo;</a>)</p> <p>Life is hectic enough without committing every free moment to an outside obligation, and this kind of over-extending doesn&#39;t allow for all those things that can and will eventually go wrong. The result is that your Internet goes down right when you should be uploading that report or paying that bill and since you waited until the last minute, you don&#39;t have time to deal with the obstacle.</p> <p>You would have done it sooner of course, but you were busy with other things on your to-do list and just couldn&#39;t &quot;get to it&quot; until now.</p> <p>This forces you to continuously work against the clock. There are just not enough hours in the day to get done all the things that need to be done, and this creates one frustrating experience after another. Working this way, it&#39;s no wonder that you&#39;re stressed.</p> <p>So, stop doing it.</p> <p>Give yourself the time you need to complete your projects the way you want them completed. Practice under-promising your abilities and then over-deliver when you finish earlier than expected. You&#39;ll feel better about what you&#39;ve accomplished and your schedule will become much more manageable, both of which will do wonders for your stress-level.</p> <h3>Meditate</h3> <p>You don&#39;t have to follow the New Age movement to benefit from this easy yet highly effective stress-management tool.</p> <p>Simply sit comfortably in a quiet place. Close your eyes and count backwards from twenty, visualizing the numbers appearing in your mind as you count. If a random thought interrupts your progress, let that thought float right on by, but start over again at twenty.</p> <p>You&#39;ll be surprised at how many &quot;random thoughts&quot; interrupt your progress before you finally make it all the way to one. That&#39;s because your brain is used to a barrage of stimuli all the time and with this kind of constant input, its no wonder we feel a little frayed. Forcing your mind to be quiet takes time and practice, but you&#39;ll be calmer and more centered for your efforts, and that&#39;s always a good thing. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Take 5 Minutes for Yourself</a>)</p> <h3>Indulge</h3> <p>There is certainly something admirable about those with unwavering willpower, and I applaud your ability to stick to your schedules and stay on the straight and narrow.</p> <p>But once in a while &mdash; in fact, on a pretty regular basis &mdash; you need to indulge.</p> <p>Let your hair down, have that second drink or that extra piece of chocolate, buy that jacket that calls your name but is definitely overpriced. You deserve a treat now and then &mdash; a treat that makes you feel special, the kind that you don&#39;t do often, but when you do, it makes you swoon.</p> <h3>Get a Hobby</h3> <p>And speaking of fun...</p> <p>I&#39;ve said this numerous times before, but it&#39;s worth repeating again here. You were not meant to spend your life just &quot;getting through the day.&quot; Work is important, chores are necessary as well, but if you&#39;re not having fun, at least some of the time, then you&#39;re doing it wrong.</p> <p>Life is supposed to be an adventure and that means trying new things, exploring new talents, and doing things that bring joy and happiness to your life. I don&#39;t care if this translates into baking cupcakes, playing baseball with your co-workers, or collecting comic books that feature members of the Justice League. As long as it turns you on, it counts, and you should make time to do it.</p> <p><em>Now, the pressure&#39;s on you &mdash; how do you deal with stress? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Banish Stress: Easy Ways to Get Calm Now and Forever" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kate Luther</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development de-stress relaxation stress Tue, 14 Jan 2014 10:48:12 +0000 Kate Luther 1111190 at 25 Ways to Slow Down and Actually Appreciate the Holidays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-ways-to-slow-down-and-actually-appreciate-the-holidays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="decorating tree" title="decorating tree" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Your hair is turning gray, you can&#39;t sleep, and your ulcers are constantly flaring up. If this sound like your typical holiday pre-show, it&#39;s time to start doing things differently. (See also: <a href="">Stress-Free Holiday Giving</a>)</p> <p>Here are 25 ways to slow down and actually appreciate the holiday season with your family and friends.</p> <h2>1. Categorize Your Priorities</h2> <p>Deep down you know what you love most about the holidays and what you despise. On a sheet of paper, make two columns. List what you love on one side and what you hate on the other. Fold the sheet in half with the &#39;love&#39; side showing and focus on those things only.</p> <h2>2. Sketch Out Your Perfect Celebration</h2> <p>Even if you are not a writer, take pen to paper and just freestyle your vision of the perfect holiday season. Jot down things and ideas that you&#39;d like to see happen. By putting your thoughts into words it can be easier for you to turn your ideas into reality.</p> <h2>3. Budget Your Holiday Funds</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Money is often a huge source of holiday stress, especially when there doesn&#39;t seem to be enough to go around. Figure out just how much you can afford to spend throughout the holiday season (don&#39;t even look at those credit cards!). When the funds run out, understand that is all you have to offer. Keep the budgeted number in your wallet so you can continually be reminded to watch you spending. (See also: <a href="">How to Avoid Holiday Debt</a>)</p> <h2>4. Shrink Your Gift List</h2> <p>Free up some money by shrinking your <a href="">gift list</a>. You&#39;ll have the extra perk of not having to shop till you drop to cover everyone on the list. Exchange names with adult family members and <a href="">spend more on the kids</a>. Tell co-workers and friends you&#39;d rather opt out of gift-giving this year, so you can focus more on your family. Many in your circle will likely be relieved they too can cut back on spending.</p> <h2>5. Gather After the Fact</h2> <p>Buck tradition and hold the annual Christmas dinner with all your friends and family one or two days after the fact when nothing else is going on, and everything is already marked for clearance. Keep the actual day a quiet one with just family but really celebrate with everyone when you can get food, decorations, and gifts at a considerable discount.</p> <h2>6. Opt Out of the Madness</h2> <p>Most people are fully aware of the madness that goes on during the holiday season such as Black Friday shopping extravaganzas. For one year, commit to opting out of the intentional craziness if it is not something you actually enjoy. There is no shame in not getting every single &#39;bargain&#39; being advertised.</p> <h2>7. Cybershop</h2> <p>Use the power of the Internet to find what you need. Save on gas and time by skipping the mall shopping altogether and having the goods come right to your house.</p> <h2>8. Buy Local</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Stay close to home when doing the shopping. Change your way of thinking by seeking out gift ideas that are readily available from local businesses rather than hunting down items you think you need. Shopping local is a two-fold blessing. You can skip the endless traveling and keep money in your own community by keeping local businesses thriving.</p> <h2>9. Focus on the Kids</h2> <p>It can be hard to believe that the traditional favorite holiday of kids worldwide is the same holiday where grown adults literally throat punch each other for the last toy on the shelf. Work at getting into the mindset of your own children or the kids in your family. Make the holiday effort about making the kids happy and creating lasting memories for them.</p> <h2>10. Select a Central Location</h2> <p>For large families especially, it can be stressful to have to spend the entire holiday season in the car traveling to visit extended family and friends. Opt to go to just one or two places and make plans to meet as many people as possible in one central location. (See also: <a href="">Ultimate Guide to Holiday Flying</a>)</p> <h2>11. Freeze Your Menu</h2> <p>If you are hosting the family dinner, start preparing the meal early. Make what you can in advance and freeze it. Don&#39;t spend the entire day cooking and cleaning when you should be sitting down and laughing with your family.</p> <h2>12. Adopt Old School Traditions</h2> <p>Take some time to consider your own childhood during the holidays. It likely wasn&#39;t filled with the hustle and bustle and materialism that has become the focus these days. Look through your childhood photo albums and make a point of reviving some old school holiday traditions with your family.</p> <h2>13. Unplug Your Brain</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>When you are done with work for the holidays, unplug your devices and commit to spending time with actual people. Don&#39;t update your Facebook. Don&#39;t answer work emails. Don&#39;t get lost in the digital world like you do the other 364 days of the year.</p> <h2>14. Reset Your Expectations</h2> <p>There is so much influence about the holidays on TV, in magazines, and at your neighbor&#39;s house, it is just too easy to lose your way. Forget what everyone else is doing for the holidays and consider what you and your family want to do. There is no law that everyone has to celebrate a Martha Stewart Christmas. Keep your expectations in check and make the best of what you have within your family.</p> <h2>15. Stand Firm on &#39;No&#39;</h2> <p>Over-committing yourself during the holidays can make it the most unpleasant time of the year. Don&#39;t be afraid to say &#39;no&#39; to the things you don&#39;t have time to do or just don&#39;t want to do. Understand that not everyone else is going to be Zen this time of year and learn to be okay with enjoying some down time even if other people may feel let down.</p> <h2>16. Reach Out By Phone</h2> <p>When was the last time you had an honest-to-goodness phone chat with close friends or long distance relatives? Take some time to sit with a cup of hot chocolate and reach out to those you love by phone rather than email or text. Relive some of your favorite holiday memories with them to truly get into the holiday spirit.</p> <h2>17. Decorate for You</h2> <p>Deep down we may be a tad bit envious of the head of the <a href="">Griswold household</a>, but when it comes to decorating for the holidays, don&#39;t make it a competition. Do what you can afford to do where lights and trees are concerned. Going overboard for the sake of beating out your neighbors is pointless in the grand scheme of things. Unless a holiday decorating competition is your reason for the season, keep it simple. (See also: <a href="">Stress-Free, Last-Minute Holiday Decorating</a>)</p> <h2>18. Tune In for Holiday Specials</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Print out the television schedule for the <a href="">holiday movies</a> you love most. Make a point to sit down with the whole family, bowls of popcorn, and low lights to enjoy the best Christmas movies ever made. It&#39;s a great way to stay connected to the family and relive a bit of Christmas past.</p> <h2>19. Write Daily Thank You Notes</h2> <p>When the day gets hectic, sit down at the kitchen table and write a thank you note. This is a good way to remember what actually matters. Whether you share the notes with your family or keep them private, it&#39;s a good way to stay in touch with what really matters in your life.</p> <h2>20. Create a Legacy</h2> <p>Go into the holiday with the intent of making it a <a href="">holiday to remember</a>. Make a point to take pictures and keep a journal with things that happened to make the holiday special. Create a scrapbook for yourself or as a gift for next year.</p> <h2>21. Host Story Time</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Take time out to sit with the family and reminisce about Christmas past. Tell stories from your own childhood to recapture the Christmas spirit while slowing down to enjoy time spent with your loved ones.</p> <h2>22. Get Away from it All</h2> <p>For a true break, plan a holiday getaway with your family and forego the chaotic traditions of the holidays. Plan early so that all your family members or friends can join you and use gift funds for travel money rather than exchange presents.</p> <h2>23. Count Your Blessings</h2> <p>Take the time, especially during the holidays, to count your blessings and remember what you are grateful for every day of the year. This can help you gain some new perspective on what the holiday season should really be about.</p> <h2>24. Make Good Use of Time Off</h2> <p>Rather than sit back and wonder where your time off went, plan in advance how to use the extra few days off from work for the good of your family. Feeling accomplished after the holiday madness can do a lot of good going into a new year.</p> <h2>25. Get Some Sleep</h2> <p>With the holiday parties and midnight shopping, we often put sleep on the backburner. But a lack of sleep can catch up to you so make sure you get eight hours and take day or two to actually sleep in and veg out to recharge your batteries for a new year to come.</p> <p><em>How do you slow down and appreciate the season?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="25 Ways to Slow Down and Actually Appreciate the Holidays" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tisha Tolar</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Holidays stress stress relief Mon, 25 Nov 2013 10:30:12 +0000 Tisha Tolar 1098678 at Best Money Tips: Letting Go of Financial Stress <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-letting-go-of-financial-stress-0" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="paying bills" title="paying bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on letting go of financial stress, Black Friday deals from the biggest stores, and avoiding binge-shopping.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Letting go of financial stress</a> &mdash; Let go of financial stress by letting go of perfection and setting aside time each week to tackle financial issues. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="">Every Black Friday Deal From the Biggest Stores</a> &mdash; If you are looking for a list of all the big store Black Friday deals, look no further than this list! [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">How to avoid binge-shopping</a> &mdash; To avoid binge-shopping, avoid stores and take field trips without your wallet. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="">5 Ways to Save Money Over Your Entire Career</a> &mdash; Taking your lunch to work can help you save money during your career. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="">How to Save on Sports Equipment for Kids</a> &mdash; Look into getting secondhand gear if you need sports equipment for your kids. [Prairie Eco-Thrifter]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">Three Steps to Making the Most of Your Investments</a> &mdash; To make the most of your investments, get a good return rate. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="">Frugal Friday: Stock Your Thanksgiving Table</a> &mdash; Zingerman&#39;s and Dankin Farms are offering great discounts to help you fill your Thanksgiving table. [Jean Chatzky Making Money Make Sense]</p> <p><a href="">What&#39;s the Difference Between Being Frugal and Being Cheap?</a> &mdash; If you tip only a little bit even when you get exceptional service, chances are you are being cheap. [Young and Thrifty]</p> <p><a href="">Easy Handmade Ornaments for Christmas</a> &mdash; Cookie cutter ornaments are easy and frugal to make for Christmas! [Bargain Babe]</p> <p><a href="">Thanksgiving Crafts and Activities That Encourage an Attitude of Gratitude</a> &mdash; Starting a gratitude journal is a great activity to encourage an attitude of gratitude within your kids. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Letting Go of Financial Stress" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance best money tips financial letting go stress Fri, 22 Nov 2013 11:00:11 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1098679 at How Doing Less Helps You Get More Done <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-doing-less-helps-you-get-more-done" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man relaxing at desk" title="man relaxing at desk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There is a general belief that productivity and organization go hand in hand. And these days, it&#39;s common to see people surround themselves with a flurry of online calendars, smartphone apps, and other mechanisms to stay on track in their lives.</p> <p>But the reality is that for most people, the &quot;infrastructure&quot; they use to stay organized can be a source of stress in and of itself. Why? Because many use all of these systems in an attempt to achieve <em>everything</em>, when that&#39;s an unrealistic goal. (See also: <a href="">How to Create a Reasonable To-Do List</a>)</p> <p>In the Harvard Business Review Guide to Getting the Right Work Done, the authors argue that <a href="">we must avoid trying to do more than we are capable</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>The idea that we can get it all done is the biggest myth in time management&hellip; there&#39;s no way any of us are going to accomplish everything we want to. Face it: You&#39;re a limited resource. On one hand, that&#39;s enormously depressing. On the other hand, acknowledging it can be enormously empowering.</p> </blockquote> <p>When it comes to being productive and reducing stress, it sometimes makes sense to go with the flow. Consider following these tips on how to be less organized, but ultimately happier.</p> <h2>Simplify the To-Do List</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="height:303px; width:605px" /></p> <p>It may seem like a good idea to write down all of the things you want to get done in a given day. But more often than not, your to-do list turns into a &quot;didn&#39;t-do&quot; list, and you end up feeling bad about yourself. And that&#39;s not fair, because there&#39;s a good chance you <em>did </em>accomplish a lot during your day (it just wasn&#39;t what you had planned).</p> <p>In his book <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003Y74RYQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Time Management That Doesn&#39;t Suck</a>, author John Davidson writes:</p> <blockquote><p>To-do lists are not motivating. It&#39;s not fun to see a big list of tasks. It&#39;s not fun feeling out of control. It&#39;s not fun having your list tell you what to do. And it&#39;s not fun seeing the list get longer every day.</p> </blockquote> <p>The Mayo Clinic endorses to-do lists as a way to stay organized and reduce stress. But, it <a href="">emphasizes only prioritizing the most important tasks</a>, and to &quot;say no to non-essential tasks.&quot; (See also: <a href="">5 Simple Hacks to Make Your To-Do List More Effective</a>)</p> <p>So instead of making a long list, here&#39;s what to do instead: write down the items you know that you <em>must </em>do, such as deadline-oriented items or specific requests from your boss. (You may be relieved to find there are fewer of these items than you think.) Then pick one or two non-essential things that you&#39;d <em>like </em>to get done. Avoid dwelling on what you haven&#39;t done. In fact, try a daily &quot;done&quot; list instead, writing down everything you&#39;ve done that day, as you do them. This way, you&#39;ll go to bed feeling satisfied rather than frustrated.</p> <h2>Stop Stressing Over Email</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="height:303px; width:605px" /></p> <p>The average worker spends <a href="">28% of their workday reading, writing, or responding to email</a>, according to management consultant McKinsey and Company. Many people wrestle with their inboxes as if they are dealing with an angry gorilla. They create labels with special colors, mark certain emails as &quot;priority&quot; or &quot;important&quot; and work tirelessly to achieve <a href="">Inbox Zero</a>. It becomes a lot of work just to stay on top of it.</p> <p>But it shouldn&#39;t be so hard. These days, most people have massive amounts of email storage space and most email programs are searchable. If you need something, you can usually find it. If you forget to reply to an email, the sender will contact you again if it was truly important.</p> <p>Rather than fight with your email, follow a practice of deleting, archiving, or responding to every email as you read them. Oftentimes we check our email just out of habit or curiosity, when we don&#39;t actually have time to respond. When we read an email and then tag it for later, we&#39;re just doubling the time it takes to get through that email. Keep things simple and keep your blood pressure at a manageable level.</p> <h2>Stop Straightening Up</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="height:303px; width:605px" /></p> <p>OK, I&#39;m not suggesting you should let loose and end up on an episode of &quot;Hoarders.&quot; But every moment you work to keep your house/car/desk clean is time you could be spending either being productive or having fun. (See also: <a href="">Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>Keeping your environment clean has obvious benefits and can help you work and live more comfortably. But there is a point of diminishing returns, and trying to keep everything spotless on a daily basis can make you feel like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up that hill, day after day.</p> <p>Learn to prioritize. At home, focus on straightening up rooms that you actually use on a regular basis. At work, take care of the area of your desk immediately in front of you, but don&#39;t stress about that pile of stuff at the far corner of your cubicle. As for your car, let the mess go unless you frequently have passengers.</p> <p>It makes sense to set aside time to do a more thorough cleaning every few weeks. But on a daily basis, you&#39;ll find that letting things slide a bit can be quite liberating. After all, it was Albert Einstein who&#39;s credited with saying, &quot;If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?&quot;</p> <h2>One Calendar Is Enough</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="height:303px; width:605px" /></p> <p>I know many people who will keep track of appointments using a sophisticated setup of color-coded electronic calendars, synced with multiple devices and set with text reminders. But all of this can easily morph into an unwieldy mess and source of stress.</p> <p>When it comes to calendars, there&#39;s no reason to go crazy. You don&#39;t need separate calendars for personal and work-related appointments. In fact, you may not need an electronic calendar at all. I know many people who swear by an old-fashioned Day Runner or desktop calendar, and there are some people who believe <a href="">the act of writing something down &mdash; on paper &mdash; will enhance your ability to remember it</a>. A single, simple calendar will usually do the trick. And besides, what ever happened to just relying on our memory? (See also: <a href="">How to Improve Your Memory</a>)</p> <h2>In Meetings, Avoid a Written Agenda</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width:605px" /></p> <p>If you&#39;re running a meeting at work, it helps to have a plan of what you want to talk about. But a formal, published agenda can be a burden instead of a help.</p> <p>Trying to stick to a written agenda can make it harder for you to hear concerns or answer questions. An agenda can help you stay on track in terms of time, but can also force you to rush through items that may deserve more discussion.</p> <p>Instead of having a hard agenda, just jot down the key issues you want to discuss, or even better, try to focus one major theme. Do your best to hit your points, but be sure to listen to other people and allow the meeting to flow naturally. If there&#39;s a key issue you didn&#39;t get to, simply follow up with an email to the staff.</p> <p><em>How do you prevent your productivity tools from weighing you down?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How Doing Less Helps You Get More Done" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tim Lemke</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity de-stress productivity stress Tue, 22 Oct 2013 10:00:03 +0000 Tim Lemke 1028388 at The Happiness Habits: 7 Ways to Feel Better Now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-happiness-habits-7-ways-to-feel-better-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man with dog" title="man with dog" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Is there a formula to happiness? Is there a way to retool our lives, reshape our routines, and revise our approach that might make happiness much more likely? I think so. If being happy is a combination of authentic connections, meaningful work, and peace that&#39;s sprinkled with simple pleasures, then yes &mdash; there very well may be a recipe for it. (See also: <a href="">44 Ways to Improve Health and Happiness</a>)</p> <p>You see, whether they realize it or not, happy people share some common behaviors that help strip away the noise that, for others, drowns out happiness. Rather than creating it from scratch, happy people tap into the joy that so many others have buried under loads of stress, work, distraction, and exhaustion.</p> <p>If you&#39;re ready to reclaim a bit more joy in your own life, here are seven habits that can quiet the noise and help you tune into being happy.</p> <h2>1. Unplug</h2> <p>Our devices are demanding. Many of us spend our days in front of a computer screen, tending to the alerts and alarms of our smartphones, or working in-transit on our tablets. But the benefits of connectivity blur the lines between work and play &mdash; often diluting our effectiveness with the former and full participation in the latter.</p> <p>Happy folks tend to relegate devices to their proper place and unplug when the occasion calls for it. Think of it. Meal time that&#39;s reserved just for eating and good conversation; sleep uninterrupted by a ringtone or message notification; playtime with our kids that&#39;s device- and distraction-free. It&#39;s all possible with a little commitment and the touch of a button. (See also: <a href="">The Joy of Disconnecting</a>)</p> <h2>2. Make Lists of Short Term and Long Term Goals</h2> <p>It&#39;s simple &mdash; happy people have a plan. Short-term and long-term goals breathe life into the monotony of our everyday worlds.</p> <p>Reflect on the goals that drive you forward, motivate your work, and help you cope with challenges. Do you want to take a vacation in the summer? Eventually own your business? Live debt free? Do you want to go back to school and eventually pursue a different dream? Seize the power of your well-considered goals and use that power to carry you over obstacles and around roadblocks. As each goal becomes reality, the success will fuel your next dream.</p> <h2>3. Keep Moving</h2> <p>Exercise releases endorphins, the body&#39;s natural antidepressant. Even moderate activity like short but regular walks, bike rides, and low-impact sports can help lift our moods, make us feel better about our bodies, reduce stress, and promote a pleasant fatigue that produces the very best sleep.</p> <p>Happy people work exercise into their daily routines as a sort of foil to the sedentary nature of modern life and the lethargy it can so easily lead to. Add just 15-30 minutes of moderate physical exercise to your schedule and see how much better it can make you feel. (See also: <a href="">Ways to Exercise in Under 5 Minutes</a>)</p> <h2>4. Immerse Yourself in Meaningful Activity</h2> <p>Paid or not, good work is nurturing and energizing.</p> <p>Committing our time, effort, and talents to work that&#39;s in line with our deeper priorities and passions makes us feel vital and more authentic &mdash; two qualities that go hand-in-hand with happiness. Being able to lose ourselves in a hobby, in volunteer work, or in a career we love is akin to meditation. It feeds a fundamental need that all humans have and may be as close as we can get to the idea of &#39;play&#39; in adult life.</p> <h2>5. Tend to Personal Connections</h2> <p>In our hyper-connected world filled with texting, IMs, FaceTime, and tweets, real connection can sometimes get lost. Happy people tend to make the effort to nurture their friendships and other relationships through face-to-face contact. Moments of genuine unscripted interaction can feed our personal relationships and, in turn, nourish our happiness. (See also: <a href="">Why Cultivating Relationships Is Good for You</a>)</p> <p>Resolve to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, and acknowledge them with your time and company. Surprise an old friend with flowers, schedule a lunch date when you both have time to linger, reconnect over coffee and let the conversation wander.</p> <h2>6. Mono-Task</h2> <p>Multitasking is overrated. Juggling more than two or three task simultaneously almost guarantees a mediocre outcome of each and a low level of stress to boot. Don&#39;t trade your peace for productivity.</p> <p>Depending on how much of your attention needs to be devoted to what you&#39;re doing, try &quot;mono-tasking.&quot; Be happily present in each activity; prioritize what needs to be done next, and skip the circus act of spinning a dozen plates in the air while you mop the floors and answer email.</p> <h2>7. Reserve Time for Uninterrupted Sleep</h2> <p>Sleep may be one of life&#39;s last free luxuries. Enjoy it. Deep and restful sleep helps avoid anxiety, combat stress, and it promotes clarity and good decision-making.</p> <p>Carve out enough time every evening for an adequate amount of sleep and hold that time sacred. Likewise, don&#39;t feel guilty about sneaking in a nap every once in a while, either; it can be a wonderful way to get your second wind and recalibrate a bad mood.</p> <p>The path to happiness isn&#39;t a great mystery. It may as simple as putting our minds to new habits and priorities and letting a few old ideas fall away. And what greater experiment could there be than to embrace a few changes and see how our moods &mdash; how our lives &mdash; improve?</p> <p><em>Do you have a recipe for joy? What new habits have added to your own happiness and what advice would you give readers who feel stuck?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Happiness Habits: 7 Ways to Feel Better Now" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development de-stress happiness productivity stress Mon, 21 Oct 2013 10:36:03 +0000 Kentin Waits 1002512 at 20 Free (or Really Cheap) Ways to Relieve Stress <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-free-or-really-cheap-ways-to-relieve-stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man stretching arms" title="man stretching arms" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="163" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've had a hard day; things have happened at every turn that made you think &quot;I'm going back to bed to restart the day. Maybe I won't emerge 'til tomorrow.&quot; Of course, you soldier on. But, stressed to the edge of sanity, your patience wears thin. You continue your day with that weight upon your shoulders, chugging expensive coffees and praying for the day to be over already. (See also: <a href="">Yoga Tricks to Help You Relax</a>)</p> <p>Stress like this needs to be avoided. Not only is it a rotten way to live, it's also detrimental to your health. It can lead to <a href="">headaches, depression, and more</a>. Thankfully, there are so many affordable, or even free, solutions out there to help you ease the tension.</p> <h2>1. Take Your Pooch for a Walk</h2> <p>Walking is a great way to relieve stress. And if you own a dog, it's a good excuse to get your mutt out of the house to keep you company. If your dog is on the &quot;chubby&quot; side, you'll be doing your best friend a favor, too. And they'll thank you for it. It's far better than the alternative &mdash; sitting on the sofa loading up on ice-cream while your dog does circles on the linoleum. (See also: <a href="">Review of the Easy Walk Harness for Dogs</a>)</p> <h2>2. Use YouTube to Learn a New Skill</h2> <p>Self improvement makes us feel good. It's also one of the easiest ways to improve self-esteem. <a href="">YouTube</a> has hundreds of how-to videos on almost every skill or hobby you can imagine (and even some you can't). From learning a musical instrument to crocheting, photography, model-making, or even pottery, you'll find simple, free instructions online. Other sources include <a href=""></a>, WikiHow, HowCast, and <a href="">VideoJug</a>.</p> <h2>3. Declutter Your Home</h2> <p>This is a twofer. Not only is decluttering a good way to take your mind off other things, the end result also leaves you feeling less stressed. Most people hate mess, even if they can live with it. So, grab yourself two plastic shopping bags each day, one labeled Trash and the other Donate. Walk around your home and fill them up. The clearer your surfaces, the clearer your mind. Which brings us to number four&hellip; (See also: <a href="">How a Deep Declutter Can Improve Your Life</a>)</p> <h2>4. Meditate</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>It's not new-age silliness or a passing fad. It's not religious. It's all about self; a spiritual thing that comes from within. We've all heard of meditation and know it's supposed to relieve stress by reconnecting with the present moment and our inner being. If you're unclear about that, you'll know soon. And you'll find plenty of free instruction videos online, including mantras, plus background music if you need a more calming environment.</p> <p>Remember, this takes practice. It's actually quite hard to sit, clear your thoughts, and return to center. But, it gets easier with time. And by clearing your thoughts, and focusing on your body, you're giving yourself some of the best free medicine there is.</p> <h2>5. Get Everything Down on Paper</h2> <p>Or a white board. Or a tablet. Just choose an outlet for your thoughts and exorcise them. Maybe you are feeling a higher sense of stress than your situation should allow. Quite often, you can become overwhelmed by things that, in retrospect, aren't that stressful after all. It can help to sort your thoughts instead of going over and over them in your head again. Get them out, get them on paper, and get on with your day.</p> <h2>6. Talk to Someone</h2> <p>Whether it's a friend, or a doctor or therapist, don't be afraid to seek help. If you're not sure why you're stressed, visiting a doctor could be an especially good move &mdash; your stress may be related to a physical condition, or another kind of imbalance.</p> <h2>7. Take Photos</h2> <p>If you have a Facebook account of your own, or if you visit Instagram or Tumblr, you'll realize that pictures are a wonderful focus on the good things about people's lives. After all, how many people post pictures of themselves looking sad and lonely?</p> <p>So, adopt this &quot;positive photos&quot; way of life. Soon, you will look at your Facebook or Instagram feed and think, &quot;hey, I'm doing great!&quot; What's more, if you make a conscious effort to take photos, you'll start focusing on great things to photograph. You'll look for the good in everyday life, and find those needles in the haystack. Even when it all looks gloomy, there's a beautiful image to capture.</p> <h2>8. Pet Your Pet</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>There is <a href="">scientific evidence</a> that human beings feel less stressed when they are petting a dog, cat, or other animal. Dogs are used to help rehabilitate wounded soldiers, relieve stress in students, and even make dangerous prisoners feel more at ease. If you own a pet, give your companion a little extra love and they'll return it in spades. If you don't, pay a visit to an animal rescue center. You can visit with dogs, cats and other animals, walk them, pet them, and give them some much needed care. It's a win-win situation. You may even find a new friend to bring home.</p> <h2>9. Clean Your Bathroom</h2> <p>Really? Well, it's not pleasant. If it's anything like the bathrooms in my house, where two kids destroy anything they touch, it's more like cleaning up a war zone. BUT, there are a few benefits to this. First, it's a tough job. You're scrubbing, wiping, getting up and down, sometimes on your hands and knees. You don't have much time to think. Put some tunes on and crank them up. When you're done, you'll feel better about the clean bathroom, and you'll feel like you accomplished something.</p> <h2>10. Listen to Music From Memory Lane</h2> <p>We all have music that transports us back to a time or place when things were so much easier (or at least, they seemed easier). For some of us, it's high school. For others, our days being single and carefree, clubbing it and being completely irresponsible. Well, music can actually make you feel those emotions again. Put on some of those classic tunes from times when stress was not in the picture. You'll even start smelling things from times gone by.</p> <h2>11. Rearrange the Furniture</h2> <p>They say a change is as good as a rest. It's also a great way to take your mind off things, and look at the world through new eyes. Or in this case, from a new bedroom or living room.</p> <p>Rearranging the furniture is exercise, helping you exert energy. It's also really cathartic, giving you a new environment without spending anything more than a little of your time and effort. A rearranged room can make things feel fresh, and with some <a href="">Feng Shui</a> added in, who knows? You could even improve your finances or your love life.</p> <h2>12. Soak Up Some Rays</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <p><a href="">A study by Dermatologist Dr. Richard Weller</a> says that the benefits of sunbathing might outweigh the risks involved. The biggest one &mdash; low blood pressure. Yes, when the skin is exposed to sunlight it releases a compound called Nitric Oxide into the blood vessels. This helps lower blood pressure, which can assist in relieving stress. And let's not forget that Vitamin D is another benefit of sunbathing, which assists bone growth and boosts the immune system. No matter what, just getting outside is a great way to de-stress. (See also: 5<a href="">0+ Free Ways to Have Fun Outdoors</a>)</p> <h2>13. Concentrate on Your Breathing</h2> <p>It's another form of meditation, but one that doesn't require the same kind of commitment. Whether you're stuck in your cubicle at work, stressing out from another project, or you're at home with the kids who won't stop screaming, you can breathe. In, out; in out.</p> <h2>14. Make Faces in the Mirror</h2> <p>In other words, laugh. Make the time to stop taking life so seriously, even if it's just for a few minutes. Use props. Get some invisible tape out and turn your face into something from an episode of Face Off. It may seem silly (because it is), but even this small departure from reality can make a big difference to your day.</p> <h2>15. Play Like a Kid</h2> <p>How many kids do you know who are stressed out and feeling like life is all too much? Not many, right? Granted, they don't have the pressures and responsibilities of an adult, but they do have something we don't; playtime. From Lego and PlayDoh to jigsaw puzzles and Etch-A-Sketch, there are toys &quot;meant for kids&quot; that are just as fun for big kids to play with. Try it. I keep Lego and other mind-freeing toys in my office. Why should kids have all the fun?</p> <h2>16. Paint. Sketch. Sculpt. Free Your Mind</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>You don't have to be &quot;good&quot; at art. Just create. You may be surprised at just how much fun you have. When you're done, you could have some timeless memories for your walls.</p> <h2>17. Break Something</h2> <p>We all have some nasty old crockery in the basement or attic. Or some old ornaments that even Goodwill would be skeptical about accepting. Well, instead of throwing them in the trash, get one final use out of them. Find a place you're not going to do any damage, and throw those things down. Break 'em. Smash 'em. Annihilate 'em. If you've got an old baseball bat (and safety glasses and gloves), and something that needs to be &quot;disassembled,&quot; get to work. It's amazing how much stress you can relieve.</p> <h2>18. Scream</h2> <p>Let it all out. You can drive to a secluded spot. You can bury your face in a pillow (or three if you scream like a banshee). <a href="">The benefits of screaming are documented</a>, and yet it's a raw, human response to stress that we have taught ourselves to bury inside. Why? There's no harm in it. You aren't screaming at anyone else. You're just releasing some of the pressure, much like a pressure cooker. And when you're done, and your jaw is tired, and your throat is sore, your head will feel light as a feather.</p> <h2>19. Reduce Sugar and Caffeine Consumption</h2> <p>These stimulants are good at keeping us awake, alert, and energized, but they also fuel our stresses. Did you know that <a href="">just 15 oz. of coffee</a> (that's a Grande from Starbucks) is enough to raise your epinephrine levels by over 200%? Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline &mdash; and that can really pump up your stress levels. Sugar, too, is not your friend. Our bodies often crave sugar when we're stressed, due to a hormone called cortisol. But each too much sugar, you'll crash, gain weight, and have even more to stress about. Dump the coffee and sugary treats.</p> <h2>20. Concentrate on the Good Things</h2> <p>Stress can make us focus on the bad things in life, with blinders on. We don't look at everything that's right in our lives, we just obsess over the bad stuff. One way to get out of this depressing rut is to keep a gratitude journal. A simple <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000GP16R0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">$2 composition book</a> is all you need. And every day, you should take the time to write at least one thing you are grateful for in your life. Read it at the end of every week. You'll be amazed at how much you have.</p> <p>Remember &mdash; there are many different ways this has been written, but in short: &quot;Other people do not cause us stress. They merely cause or contribute to a situation, and it's our reaction to that situation that causes stress.&quot; Basically&hellip;we all have the power to rid our lives of stress.</p> <p><em>How do you eliminate stress?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="20 Free (or Really Cheap) Ways to Relieve Stress" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development relaxation stress stress relief Mon, 16 Sep 2013 10:36:04 +0000 Paul Michael 983768 at How to Slow Down Your Fast-Paced Life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-slow-down-your-fast-paced-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="relax" title="relax" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes, stress can be a good thing, but when healthy, everyday pressure turns into can't-slow-down anxiety, it's time to reevaluate. If you're struggling to keep up with your action-packed schedule and can't seem to calm down, don't worry. With a few quick changes, you can shift your priorities and learn to relax. Try these six slowdown strategies for a simple, smoother way of life.</p> <p>RELATED: <a href="">7 Surprising Things You Didn't Know Were Stressing You Out</a></p> <h3>1. Take Some Time to Assess Your Stressors</h3> <p>For a few days, step back and see what overwhelms you most. Is it a time issue? Your work? Relationships? Find out what triggers your hectic lifestyle so that you can pinpoint some slow-down solutions.</p> <h3>2. Lower the Information Influx</h3> <p>Turn off the push notifications for your cell phone's email, social media, news, and game applications. Check your apps only when you have the time. Otherwise, that constant flood of data will distract from the things you really need to get done, and unfinished tasks will only leave you more stressed.</p> <h3>3. Tuck Away Your Tech</h3> <p>Out of sight, out of mind &mdash; at least, as much as it can be. Keep your phone and tablet in a drawer or in your purse so that you're not tempted to browse, especially as it gets closer to bedtime. Without your smart phone in sight, your thoughts will be more focused and you'll be more mindful in the moment.</p> <h3>4. Pencil in &quot;Me Time&quot; &mdash; and Stick to It</h3> <p>Truth is, you can't keep up with that go, go, go routine if you don't allow yourself to wind down every once in a while. For every few must-attend events, pencil in a date with yourself: a massage, a workout, or even just a couple hours to sit back and read.</p> <h3>5. Be Realistic About Your Workload</h3> <p>Is all that overtime necessary? Evaluate your productivity to be sure you're making the most of your 9-to-5 hours, then look for any opportunities to scale back. Also, don't be afraid to delegate tasks; asking for help shows that you're willing to collaborate.</p> <h3>6. Embrace the Ability to Say &quot;No&quot;</h3> <p>You don't need to be everybody's go-to helper, so let yourself say &quot;no&quot; sometimes. Being a &quot;yes&quot; person can be great, but if it's leaving you overwhelmed or resentful, it's time to be a bit more selfish with your time.</p> <p><em>Do you have any tips for reducing stress? Share them in the comments below!</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don&#039;t let stress overwhelm you — instead, follow these steps to slow down your life. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a href="" style="border:none;"><img width="300" height="95" alt="" src="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">A New (and Effective!) Way to Battle Stress</a></li> <li><a href="">Gimme a Break: 101 Frugal Ways to Relax</a></li> <li><a href="">13 Ways to De-Stress During the Workday</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development relax saying no stress Fri, 23 Aug 2013 10:24:31 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 981433 at Best Money Tips: Letting Go of Financial Stress <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-letting-go-of-financial-stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Letting Go of Financial Stress" title="Letting Go of Financial Stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on letting go of financial stress, moves to make at work this year, and ways to make your resolutions stick.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">Take a deep breath: Letting go of financial stress</a> &mdash; If you want to let go of financial stress, interrogate your worries when they creep in. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="">50 Small And Big Moves To Make At Work This Year</a> &mdash; This year, make it a point to avoid office gossip and turn in projects before their deadlines. [SavvySugar]</p> <p><a href="">5 Ways To Make Your New Years Resolutions Stick</a> &mdash; To make your new years resolutions stick, put your goals in writing. [Forbes]</p> <p><a href="">50 Mini-Tasks to Improve Your Finances One Step at a Time</a> &mdash; A couple small steps you can do to improve your finances include checking your credit score and cutting recurring expenses. [Moolanomy]</p> <p><a href="">12 Budget Friendly Health Tips</a> &mdash; Eat breakfast and skip junk food to stay healthy without breaking your budget. [My Dollar Plan]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CoupleMoney+%28Couple+Money%29">Are Bi-Weekly Payment Programs a Good Option?</a> &mdash; Bi-weekly payment programs can help people reduce their interest costs [Couple Money]</p> <p><a href="">What to Do in 2013: Establish an Irregular Expenses Account</a> &mdash; In 2013, establish an irregular expenses account so you don't have to dip into your emergency fund to pay for those inevitable irregular expenses. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="">Preparing for Your Demise</a> &mdash; It's important to start preparing for your demise when you have kids. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="">ProSquad: Looking at the Big Picture When Your Child Has a Fever</a> &mdash; If your child has a fever, focus more on how your child looks and feels than the number on the thermometer. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Moneycation+%28Moneycation%29">Six benefits of buying a home</a> &mdash; Buying a home will give you tax advantages and pride of ownership. [Moneycation]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Letting Go of Financial Stress" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance best money tips finance stress Fri, 04 Jan 2013 11:00:31 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 963685 at Best Money Tips: De-stress At Your Desk <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-de-stress-at-your-desk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="De-stress At Your Desk" title="De-stress At Your Desk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on ways to de-stress at your desk, how to succeed, and ways to be credit card smart.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">7 Ways to De-Stress at Your Desk</a>&nbsp;-- De-stress at your desk by taking a music break. [Currency]</p> <p><a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PassivePanda+%28Passive+Panda%29">How to succeed (the one thing that you're definitely not doing)</a> -- If you want to succeed, you must make it easy for the other person to do what you want them to do. [Passive Panda]</p> <p><a href=";task=view&amp;id=333&amp;Itemid=52">9 Ways to Be Credit Card Smart</a> -- Be credit card smart by avoiding cash advance withdrawals.&nbsp;[Personal Finance Online Resources For Indian Users]</p> <p><a href="">Expenses You Are Paying Too Much For</a> -- Chances are you are paying too much for your utilities. [Gen X Finance]</p> <p><a href="">Save Money on Vacation Plans with Frugal Staycation Ideas</a> -- Next time you want to have a vacation, save money by making it a staycation and go camping. [Free From Broke]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading&nbsp;</h2> <p><a href="">Laws To Protect Children: Invasive Or Necessary?</a> -- Some states have passed a law saying that parents can't smoke with their kids in the car. Is this invasive or necessary? [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MyMint+%28Mint+Personal+Finance+Blog%29">5 As-Seen-On-TV Gadgets That Really Work</a> -- OpenX is one of the few as-seen-on-tv gadgets that actually works. [MintLife Blog]</p> <p><a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SavingsScoop+%28Savings+Scoop%29">10 Reasons Why Failure is Not Your Option</a> -- Failure is not an option because you should always have a backup plan. [Savings Scoop]</p> <p><a href="">How to Evict Your Crappy Roommate</a> -- Get your bad roommate evicted by checking your lease's liability clause. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="">3 Things To Do If There Is No Progress In Your Life</a> -- If you feel like you aren't making progress in your life, try to connect with new people. [PickTheBrain]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: De-stress At Your Desk" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">General Tips articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips best money tips de-stress desk stress Wed, 22 Jun 2011 10:00:37 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 591018 at The Enemies of Frugality <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-enemies-of-frugality" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Burning Money" title="Burning Money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There&rsquo;s a lot of talk today about embracing simplicity and rediscovering frugality, but what are the culprits &mdash; obvious and hidden &mdash; that undermine our efforts? At root, what are the emotional, logistical, and social forces that conspire to figuratively reach into our wallets and pluck our cash day after day? Let&rsquo;s explore the seven challenges to frugal living. (See also: <a href="">Endurance Frugality: Staying the Course and Being a Winner</a>)</p> <h2>Stress</h2> <p>Stress may be roadblock number one on the road to frugality. So many of us seem to be overworked, over-scheduled, and overwrought. Stress forces us to take the path of least resistance, and that path is typically the most expensive. When we&rsquo;re stressed, we make bad decisions about our health, our diet, and our money.</p> <h2>Competition/Ego</h2> <p>Keeping up with the Joneses is expensive &mdash; especially when the Joneses don&rsquo;t have a clue what they&rsquo;re doing. It&rsquo;s a financial game of chicken, really. Our neighbors buy a new toy and not to be outdone, we follow suit. Everyone on the block ends up with new toys they can&rsquo;t afford, and no one learns a thing. What&rsquo;s wrong with appearing a bit restrained in this country? When did frugality and poverty become synonyms? What&rsquo;s more, when did poverty become a crime?</p> <h2>Exhaustion</h2> <p>The complexities of modern life can be exhausting, and often the only thing that can keep us going is the promise of a grand reward &mdash; sometimes just as exhausting, but slightly more exciting. After a year of 60-hour work weeks, a ten-day spa vacation seems not only warranted, but deserved. Demanding a bit of mental &ldquo;spa time&rdquo; each day gives way to one grand and deliciously expensive extravagance once a year. Price be damned and frugality banished!</p> <h2>Convenience</h2> <p>Sometimes it&rsquo;s just easier to pay someone to mow our lawn, wash our car, clean our house, or make our dinner. We&rsquo;ve all been there &mdash; after a 10 or 12 hour work day, the thought of coming home only to cook and clean for another 3 seems like cruel and unusual punishment. At these moments, simple exhaustion dictates our financial decisions and frugality goes out the window.</p> <h2>Immediacy</h2> <p>Sometimes life throws us a curve-ball, and we need an item or service immediately. Maybe the family car finally dies, or you forgot about class pictures tomorrow, and your son needs a new white shirt. There&rsquo;s no financial planning to do, no research to mull over, and no time to bargain-hunt. Immediacy typically means more cash.</p> <h2>Uncertainty</h2> <p>Living a frugal life takes no small amount of commitment and daily rededication. Not only do friends, family, and work colleagues often not understand simplicity and frugality, they can be openly antagonistic about it. Truly embracing the path we&rsquo;re on in the face of our &ldquo;culture of more&rdquo; is the key to long-term success.</p> <h2>Advertising</h2> <p>If financial wisdom and rationality were a clear pool of water, <a href="">advertising</a> would be Baby Ruth bar floating by (a reference not lost on all you <em>Caddyshack</em> lovers out there). Advertising creates unrest, encourages fear, and often muddies the water of our financial minds. An uneducated consumer easily manipulated by suggestion is an advertiser&rsquo;s best-friend and frugality&rsquo;s worst enemy.</p> <p>Reviewing this list, it seems like many of these &quot;enemies&quot; are new to the scene. With the exception of number two, doesn&rsquo;t it seem like stress, exhaustion, convenience, immediacy, and the prevalence of advertising are relatively modern phenomena &mdash; at least at their current (epidemic) levels? What&rsquo;s lost in the bargain we make between our time, energy, and our money? Is the exchange a fair one, or one that simply keeps us on the treadmill to run another day?</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Enemies of Frugality" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Frugal Living articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living advertising challenges convenience stress Mon, 23 May 2011 10:36:24 +0000 Kentin Waits 546586 at 99 Free or Virtually Free Ways to De-Stress <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/99-free-or-virtually-free-ways-to-de-stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's no way around it &mdash; life is stressful. In between schedules, working, making ends meet, and spending time with family, there's very little time to unwind. When stressful situations happen (and these days, who isn't anxious?), it's important to take a step back and re-focus on your center. If you have no idea where that is, you are definitely overdue for some de-stressing in your life. Here are ways to de-stress yourself, instantly, effectively, and legally. (See also: <a href="">Feeling stuck? 100 Ways to Change Your Life</a>)</p> <ol> <li>Read a book.</li> <li>Look through magazines.</li> <li>Play an instrument.</li> <li>Go for a walk.</li> <li>Throw a ball for your dog.</li> <li>Read to your kids.</li> <li>Have sex.</li> <li>Play Solitaire.</li> <li>Go for a hike.</li> <li>Throw away ten things from your basement/garage.</li> <li>Practice yoga.</li> <li>Write a poem.</li> <li>Write a love letter.</li> <li>Write a &ldquo;Thank You&rdquo; note.</li> <li>Pray.</li> <li>Take a bath.</li> <li>Browse a catalog.</li> <li>Pet your cat.</li> <li>Listen to Brazilian Jazz (I highly recommend Antonio Carlos Jobim).</li> <li>Give yourself a manicure.</li> <li>Give yourself a facial.</li> <li>Put on sweat pants.</li> <li>Light candles and turn off the lights.</li> <li>Sit in front of a lighted fireplace.</li> <li>Paint a piece of furniture.</li> <li>Use Chinese stress balls.</li> <li>Sing.</li> <li>Drink peppermint tea.</li> <li>Drink warm milk with honey.</li> <li>Practice deep breathing techniques.</li> <li>Dance alone in your room to your favorite music.</li> <li>Doodle.</li> <li>Cook.</li> <li>Go for a drive (away from traffic).</li> <li>Garden ( I have never seen a stressed out gardener).</li> <li>Make bread.</li> <li>Piece together a puzzle.</li> <li>Do a crossword puzzle.</li> <li>Do a Sudoku puzzle.</li> <li>Watch a funny movie.</li> <li>Look at travel sites.</li> <li>Listen to records (how retro).</li> <li>Quilt.</li> <li>Scrapbook.</li> <li>Shoot hoops.</li> <li>Jog.</li> <li>Laugh.</li> <li>Eat chocolate.</li> <li>Cry.</li> <li>Smell flowers.</li> <li>Hug your children (or borrow someone else's, preferably someone you know).</li> <li>Go shopping.</li> <li>Call your mom.</li> <li>Call your best friend.</li> <li>Take pictures.</li> <li>Watch birds.</li> <li>Ride a bike.</li> <li>Roller skate.</li> <li>Sit in a coffee shop.</li> <li>Go to antique stores.</li> <li>Go to thrift stores.</li> <li>Go to garage sales.</li> <li>Sew.</li> <li>Knit.</li> <li>Crochet.</li> <li>Have a hot shower.</li> <li>Put Christmas lights up in your living room.</li> <li>Slow dance.</li> <li>Drink hot chocolate.</li> <li>Make lemonade.</li> <li>Watercolor.</li> <li>Color with crayons.</li> <li>Finger paint.</li> <li>Play with Play-Doh, with or without kids.</li> <li>Make a craft.</li> <li>Make your bed, then take a nap in it.</li> <li>Paint a wall.</li> <li>Press flowers.</li> <li>Watch a black and white movie.</li> <li>Watch a sports game.</li> <li>Go swimming.</li> <li>Go fishing.</li> <li>Skip rocks.</li> <li>Catch frogs.</li> <li>Watch the sunset.</li> <li>Snuggle.</li> <li>Sleep in.</li> <li>Watch animal clips on Youtube.</li> <li>Watch baby clips on Youtube.</li> <li>Play with a marshmallow shooter.</li> <li>Roast marshmallows over the stove.</li> <li>Play with a Rubik's cube.</li> <li>Block drama-prone friends from your facebook.</li> <li>Take three things off your &ldquo;to-do&rdquo; list for today.</li> <li>Ask yourself if this will really matter in 100 years.</li> <li>Stop reading the news.</li> <li>Only check your email once a day.</li> <li>Turn your phone off (or at least put it on vibrate).</li> <li>Know when it's time to walk away.</li> </ol> <p>People do all sorts of things to de-stress. Some watch the weather and others play video games. Some people work out really hard while others watch television. But the whole idea behind de-stressing is to take a step away from your situation to get some healthy perspective. Stop watching the world fall apart and remember what matters in your sphere of influence. Think of what you have to be grateful for, and embrace it. This is the only life you get, so remember to take the time to enjoy it.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="99 Free or Virtually Free Ways to De-Stress" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sonja Stewart</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Health and Beauty being happy relieve stress stress Tue, 05 Apr 2011 09:48:05 +0000 Sonja Stewart 515338 at How More Vacation Time Can Increase Productivity <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-more-vacation-time-can-increase-productivity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="businessman on beach" title="businessman on beach" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How More Vacation Time Can Increase Productivity" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>In a previous article, I wrote about why <a href="">Germans are more productive than Americans but still have more vacation time</a>. While researching the article, I found plenty of examples of other countries that also kick the pants of Americans in terms of workplace productivity, despite taking more vacation and often working less hours.</p> <p>We Americans pride ourselves on our hard work ethics, rooted deeply in our Puritan background. It could be argued that &quot;hard work&quot; is part of our culture and heritage, and deeply important to our identity as a culture &mdash; but if other countries have fewer working hours and longer vacations, and are producing the same <em>or more</em>&nbsp;than us, then our work <strike>process</strike> obsession might need to be reevaluated.</p> <h2>How the U.S. Ranks in Productivity</h2> <p>In 2009, the consulting firm Mercer ran a study to determine the most competitive countries based on their gross domestic product (GDP). In terms of competitiveness, the U.S. is still the best in the world. However, if you look a little closer at the numbers and compare them with other labor statistics, you'll find that the U.S. ranks below other countries in terms of gross domestic product <em>per hours worked</em>.</p> <p>In layman's terms: <em>We're not as productive as other countries that take longer vacations</em>.</p> <p>A 2009 study by <a href="">Expedia</a> found that the United States ranks last in vacation days with an average of 10 days a year. Here are a few successful countries that thrive while giving more vacation than the U.S. (data taken from a <a href=""><em>BusinessWeek</em> article</a>):</p> <h3>Finland</h3> <p>Finnish workers have an average of 40 vacation days a year and rank 6th on the Global Competitiveness scale.</p> <h3>France</h3> <p>French workers also have an average of 40 vacation days, and France is 98.2 percent as effective as the U.S. in terms of GDP per hours worked.</p> <h3>Austria</h3> <p>Austrians average 38 vacation days a year, and 35 work hours a week. Despite all the &quot;downtime,&quot; they still rank 14th on the Global Competitiveness scale with an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent. (At the time of writing this piece, the U.S. is at 9.2 percent unemployment; it was at 9.4 percent when the <em>BusinessWeek</em> article was written.)</p> <h3>Sweden</h3> <p>Swedes have 36 vacation days a year and are still ranked 4th on the Global Competitiveness scale.</p> <p>What do these countries prove? While the U.S. is still king in terms of competitiveness (as of 2009), other countries where employees work fewer hours per week are still nearly as productive (if not more) than the U.S. while taking more vacation.</p> <p>Take Belgium and the Netherlands. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation &amp; Development shows that these countries mandate 30 and 28 vacation days a year, respectively, and are still 2 percent more productive than the U.S. Tiny Luxemborg dishes out 32 yearly vacation days and is a whopping <em>27 percent more efficient than the U.S.</em></p> <h2>The Cost of <em>Not</em> Taking Vacations</h2> <p>The evidence above proves that taking vacations is good for not only your sanity but also for the bottom line. Benefits like relaxation and rejuvenation are immediate effects of vacation. (I myself just came back from a cruise in the Bahamas with my wife and can vouch for these fantastic benefits.) However, there are more benefits to vacations than meet the eye.</p> <p>When you take more vacations, you relieve stress. Stress is a <a href="">major health issue</a> for workers and has even been called the &quot;New Tobacco&quot; because of the physically damaging effects it creates for your body.&nbsp;Studies also show that men who don't take regular vacations are 32 percent more likely to have heart attacks than those who do, and women are 50 percent more likely to have heart attacks if they don't take vacations.</p> <p>The recent recession might have a silver lining &mdash; researcher Dr. Stephen Bezruchka of the University of Washington School of Public Health believes that the recession and the rising unemployment rates have had a <em>positive impact</em> on American's health. According to Bezruchka, Americans are sleeping more, eating better (by not eating out as often), and spending more time with family. Even though one never wants to see unemployment as a benefit, it seems clear that working less has a direct and positive impact on overall health.</p> <p>What about employees who have accrued vacation time, but don't take advantage of it? Expedia conducts a yearly study concerning vacation times, and in 2009 it found that 34 percent of Americans don't take all of their allotted vacation time. Not only is this a health factor (higher stress, etc.), but organizations who let employees' vacation times accrue might have to pay for those days upon termination, which could be quite costly to the organization.</p> <p>As we Americans continue to find ways to become more connected with our work through technology, it might be helpful to look at how the &quot;old&quot; way of working could be beneficial: taking more vacation, leaving &quot;work&quot; for the workplace, and taking better care of our health.</p> <p>After all, it <em>is</em> just a job.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Glen Stansberry</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Small Business Resource Center articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center America small business stress vacation Tue, 02 Nov 2010 20:11:13 +0000 Glen Stansberry 273219 at