To-do lists are really just bearers of bad news. We plow through them hoping to draw lines through each item, only to repeat the same routine the following day. It's no wonder we dislike them so much -- they're a tangible symbol of our constantly hectic schedules. Until now.
Each week, we've been bringing you a series of de-stressing tips to try each day, and this week we're out to revamp those pesky task lists we love to hate. Try the seven days' worth of activities below in order to feel a little less overwhelmed. Trust us, this is one to-do list you won't mind tackling.
HOW IT WORKS
Read a book for six minutes. Who doesn't love to get lost in a good book? Reading is packed with benefits beyond just flexing our imaginations. Studies show indulging in a novel can keep your brain sharp, help you sleep and even make you more empathetic. But if you don't have time, fear not. Research conducted at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex found that even just six minutes of reading will lower your stress levels.
De-clutter your desk. A messy desk may be the portal to a creative mind, but an organized one may make you feel less overwhelmed. One study found that when clutter builds up in our homes, our stress starts to rise. Try doing a little reorganizing today. Plus, once you put everything in its right place, you may have more room for a desk plant -- another office stress-buster. Not a bad trade off.
Throw bad thoughts away. Negative thoughts, meet the garbage. If you need to escape the anxiety bubbling up in your brain, try tossing it in the trash. One 2012 study found that writing out bad thoughts and feelings and physically throwing them away helps to clear your mind.
Express gratitude. It's hard to pick out just one thing we love about gratitude. Research shows it can make us more optimistic, healthier, kinder -- and, you guessed it, calmer, too. Think or write down what you're grateful for today, whether it be your family or just the sunset (the little things count!). If you're looking for a more structured way to incorporate thankfulness into your daily life, give our 10-day gratitude challenge a try.
Focus on one task at a time. We're all extremely guilty of multitasking. Really, it isn't our fault -- we just have so much to do that it only makes sense to switch between tasks in order to prioritize and get things done. But truth be told, that's hurting more than helping. In fact, multitasking actually increases stress when compared to unitasking, so try focusing on one thing at a time today.
Take an email vacation. You don't need a plane or a hotel in the tropics to escape from it all -- just take some time off from your email. Research shows that giving yourself an inbox vacation can help lower those anxiety levels, and it can also make you more productive. If you hear that email "ping" today, just say no (to yourself).
Write your worries down in a journal. Writing can be a cathartic experience, especially when it comes to articulating your troubles. By keeping a worry journal, experts say you might just be able to let your thoughts go for the moment, and (bonus!) get a better night's sleep as a result.
Illustrations by Alissa Scheller for The Huffington Post.
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.