You Already Know This: Stress Kills Happiness

*Insert breaking news sound*

Yes, you read that right, stress is the natural enemy of happiness. Maybe mortal enemy is a better choice of words.

I know. Totally NOT a news flash.  But you'd think it was the way we cling to stress causing activities and beliefs. It's like we're afraid to NOT be stressed. But the stresses you're holding on to are probably also why you're miserable.

It’s hard to be happy when you’re stressed. Think back on high stress situations like missing a flight to go on vacation, or when you were planning your wedding and things got overwhelming and started to fall apart. Hopefully you were able to recover and enjoy your time away or your wedding day, but chances are that you weren’t too happy while you were stressed out. Stress sucks the happiness and joy right out of us.

It only make sense then that one way to increase our happiness and our quality of life is to de-stress. Not only is it good for our soul, it’s also good for our overall health and well-being to reduce the stress in our lives. Here are some simple things you can do to distress.

Get Enough Sleep

For most adults, optimal sleep is somewhere between 6 and 8 hours, so knowing your number is very personal. When we don’t sleep well, our bodies are in a constant state of stress, trying to make up for the lack of sleep. The older I get the harder I bounce back from daylight savings time switches too.  Rest and sleep are not lazy, they are required for optimal functioning.  So, stop burning the midnight oil and get some sleep. You'll generally be more effective if you get up a little early than if you push through and stay up late, so remember that when you're working on a big project or special event.

Move Around And Get Some Exercise

Without doubt, the best stress reliever is exercise. Start moving around and burn that stress right out of your system. If you can get outside to workout, even better. The fresh air and sunshine will do wonders. But you don't have to go for a long run, even just a short walk or a brain break with the kiddos can drop your stress levels. 

Take Some “Me” Time

At many jobs, especially if you work for a school, taking time off of work is totally taboo. But taking some personal time is a great way to come back refreshed. We can all survive a little bit of putting ourselves last on the list, but that gets old fast. The old saying about putting our own oxygen mask on first isn't just a saying, it's truth. Make an effort to spend at least a little bit of “me” time each day. It doesn’t have to be much. Even ten minutes spent relaxing and doing something completely selfish can be a great way to decompress and distress.  For me, reading a good book goes a long way, but choose what works for you.

Practice Meditation

Let’s wrap this up with one last technique that can keep stress at bay. Try meditating. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on this. Sitting quietly going through a guided meditation once a day can do wonders. Once you get in the habit of practicing meditation daily, and get better at it, you can draw on the techniques you’ve learned whenever you encounter a particularly stressful situation. You can spend a minute or two in meditation, even at the most stressful time and allow your mind to relax. Trust me, this will come in very handy when life throws you a curveball, or when you’re feeling completely overwhelmed.