Reduce stress one small irritant at a time

Small changes can have a large effect on your overall stress levels.

Begin by identifying those changes that will be simple to achieve and make your life easier and calmer.

Here are some suggestions you may find useful and that hopefully will remind you of others.

Don't get too upset when you have to wait for some period of time. For example, if you are stuck in traffic there’s really not much you can do about it.

Look at the letters in the vehicle number plates around you and try to think up short three or four word sentences to match the letters. It may be BFD so that could be 'Beef For Dinner' or 'Beware Falling Down'.

If you are stuck in a long queue at the check out counter, pick up one of the outrageous tabloids and have a good laugh at the articles in them. This must be the reason why they are placed there!

Make an effort to get rid of all things that are no longer useful, for example, electronic and computer accessories such as cables, low voltage transformers, obsolete software, and floppy discs.

These items seem to accumulate rapidly so that in a few years you end up with a drawer full of the stuff! They can all be dropped off at the e-waste re-cycling depots.

On the subject of de-cluttering, I was amazed at the large amount of old photo albums we had around the house. I decided to scan all the photos to electronic files.

If there is more than one photo inside a transparent sheet and if notes are inserted, I scan the whole sheet.

The results are very acceptable when viewed on screen. I also backed them up on Idrive, an online back-up service - the first two gigabytes are free which is enough space for a large number of scanned photos. Here's the link: Idrive for on-line back-up

The thing about photos is that they are very personalized and most likely nobody else, including the kids, if you have them, will ever be interested in keeping them.

If there are some of interest, ask them now to have a look and keep the ones they want. Otherwise, after you scan them and back them up, recycle the albums and shred the photos.

Just think, most people thirty or younger only have digital photos anyway!


Make “No” your standard answer when someone asks you to do something or to volunteer for a project or a committee. This avoids the stress that sometimes results in making a spontaneous decision.

It’s far better to say no now than to be unable to commit later on when you get the call. This frustrates volunteer organizers hugely and it gives you a bad reputation – a poor situation all round.

If you decide, after giving it some thought, that you’d like to volunteer after all, you can always give them a call later and say you’ve changed your mind. It’s rare that there are too many volunteers.

Sometimes when you are trying to finish off a list of to do items you may start to feel it’s taking too long or you begin to grow weary of the prospect of getting them all finished at that time.

That’s when it’s a good idea to just stand back and think of which item you can finish quickly and then concentrate on cleaning up. This will often lead to thinking of a better and more efficient way of completing the other tasks.

So, with a little imagination, you can work on changing those situations that bring unwanted stress into your life.

If they work well for you, you can share them with others and maybe they can give you some ideas you never thought of before.

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