7 Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress

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Everyone deals with some form of stress in their life, and it’s not always easy to find relief. Family and work obligations, personal goals, financial issues; it can seem never-ending.

But here’s the good news: there are simple ways to effectively manage your stress levels so that they never get to a point where you find yourself crippled by it. And it only takes a few small habit changes to do it.

While it’s not possible to avoid stress entirely, you can manage stress levels and anxiety by implementing one or more of these stress-relieving micro-habits.

Here are 7 micro-habits to reduce your daily stress:

Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Get Moving
Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Get Moving

1. Get Movin’

An easy, yet incredibly powerful method of reducing stress is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other and increasing your day-to-day physical activity levels.

For those of us who spend a good amount of our time sitting behind a desk, getting in some exercise isn’t always something we make time for – but it’s an important component in resetting your mind and body, which will ultimately help you to minimize stress levels.

That’s why I created the 5-minute desk exercise for an easy way to get movement in at your desk. Download your 5-minute desk exercises here.

Most of us live extremely busy lives and it’s not always easy to find that extra time to squeeze in a workout. But in truth, all it takes is 15 to 30-minutes a day, most days of the week, to see an increase in your overall mood and stress levels. Plus, there are simple ways to incorporate exercise into your existing lifestyle, such as purchasing a desk that allows for adjustable height so that you can spend a few minutes every hour standing while working. In an earlier blog post, I shared how the simple act of standing can be incredibly powerful for your health and well-being.

To get an idea of just how much exercise can improve your mood by releasing these powerful endorphins, take 10 minutes today to either walk or jog lightly in place or do 30-seconds of jumping jacks.

You’ll be surprised at how much stress you’ll relieve just with some basic movement throughout the day.

Ready to track this micro-habit? Download the Daily 9 Micro-Habit Tracker for free.


5-minute desk excercise

I created the 5-minute desk exercise so you can get movement in while at your desk.

Download 5-Minute Desk Exercise


Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Turn off Phone Notifications
Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Turn off Phone Notifications

2. Limit Phone Notifications & Noise

Access to the Internet has brought a lot into our world: convenience, social networking, the ability to work from just about anywhere. But with it comes an extraordinary amount of stress.

Just think about the last time you sat down to watch your favorite television show. You were probably distracted by your mobile device, which means that you most likely didn’t absorb everything that you watched.

And it’s not your fault.

We’ve become almost numb to the sound of notifications going off on our phones and tablets, incoming emails, alerts and a myriad of other online signals that pull our attention in a hundred different directions.

If you work online, the constant incoming noise can leave you overwhelmed and stressed. You feel pressured to respond to customers quickly, or perhaps you’re trying to manage several different businesses at once and find yourself constantly having to refocus your attention because you have so many things happening at once.

It’s important to learn to cut out the noise, disconnect and recharge your mental and emotional batteries.

Not only will this help you manage stress levels by giving yourself a mental “time out”, but ultimately, the downtime will boost creativity levels and help you run your business more efficiently!

The most important time to disconnect from the internet, however, is shortly before we go to bed.

Staring at a screen and scrolling has been linked to insomnia-related issues (which lead to high stress levels). For a good night’s sleep, turn off all mobile devices about an hour before your bedtime.

Try reading a magazine or physical book, or watch some light TV. Do some type of activity that isn’t too engaging but still somewhat stimulating so that your mind is able to stay focused while still being able to wind down and relax.

If you’re concerned about someone not being able to get a hold of you in case of an emergency, then turn off your notifications in the settings section of your phone and tell people to only call you for emergencies beyond a certain time.

It’s important to focus on your own personal down-time every day, even if it’s just an extra hour away from the chaos of your business life. There’s only so long you can move at a rapid pace before getting burn out, so learning to set a schedule and sticking to it will ensure you’re always performing at your very best.

Ready to track this micro-habit? Download the Daily 9 Micro-Habit Tracker for free.

Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Get Quality Sleep
Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Get Quality Sleep

3. Get Quality Sleep

Another natural way to reduce stress is to make sure that you’re getting quality sleep.

When we don’t rest enough at the end of our day, our body can tense up and it leads to irritability and depression.  And when we’re irritable or depressed, we’re stressed.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean you should sleep for an incredibly long time.

If you sleep longer than your body actually needs, then you can become sluggish and listless which can also lead to stress when you’re unable to meet deadlines, get through your personal to-do list or simply feel down that you aren’t being productive.

Oversleeping can make you just as irritable and stressed out as not getting enough sleep.

To determine just how much sleep your body needs, it’s important to establish a regular sleep schedule, even on your days off.

Getting a quality sleep is an easy and natural way to keep stress at bay!

Ready to track this micro-habit? Download the Daily 9 Micro-Habit Tracker for free.

Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Reduce Caffeine Intake
Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Reduce Caffeine Intake

4. Reduce Caffeine Intake

Many adults are self-professed caffeine addicts, and studies now show that coffee does come with some health benefits. But as with everything in life, moderation is key.

Reducing your caffeine intake, be it in the form of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, is a natural way to reduce and relieve stress. Just as many of us need caffeine to function after waking up, too much can make us jittery and scatterbrained.

If you’d like to try cutting back on your caffeine intake, it’s important to do so in moderation. Caffeine can be addicting, and going cold turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Try cutting back just one cup a day and see how you feel. Depending on the outcome, keep doing this until you find your threshold.

And while you’re reducing your caffeine intake, don’t forget about hydrating! Drinking water first thing in the morning can energize you even more than coffee can. Learn more about the benefits of drinking water first thing in the morning.

Who knows, you may find that you don’t need caffeine at all!

Ready to track this micro-habit? Download the Daily 9 Micro-Habit Tracker for free.

Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Listen to Uplifting Music
Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Listen to Uplifting Music

5. Listen to Uplifting Music

When you think about reducing your stress levels, you probably also think about peace and quiet. And while silence can be calming, there are genres of music that can promote tranquility and inner peace which result in lower stress levels.

When it comes to lowering blood pressure and heart rate, turn to slow-paced instrumental music. For example, classical music with violins or a piano can be very comforting. The soothing sounds will help you feel relaxed and grounded.

You can also try listening to culture-specific music such as Celtic music from Ireland. The beautiful sounds will help calm your mind and make you feel at peace.

You should also consider Native American and Indian music, which have similar effects to classical. Just close your eyes and listen for 10 to 15 minutes and you’ll find almost instantaneous tranquility.

And of course, you can also unwind with the sounds of nature. If you live near a wooded area that’s quiet, go outside, close your eyes for a few minutes, and just listen. Picture in your mind the sounds of birds chirping at each other.

If this isn’t an option, then simply search for “nature music” online or on Spotify and see what comes up.

There are thousands of videos full of birds chirping, wolves howling, and other nature sounds that’ll help you relax in no time.

Ready to track this micro-habit? Download the Daily 9 Micro-Habit Tracker for free.

Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Reduce Sugar Intake
Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Reduce Sugar Intake

6. Reduce Sugar Intake

A diet full of processed foods can increase stress levels in our body. Unless you immediately channel all those carbohydrates into fuel, such as for a workout, they can easily turn into insulin and wreak havoc on our systems.

So, if your diet is fairly high in grains and sugar, consider cutting back and see how much it helps your stress levels. When you do cut back on carbohydrates, you’re bound to feel significantly less sluggish – not to mention more clear-headed and less bloated.

So, if you’re looking for a natural way to relieve stress, try slowly cutting back on carbohydrates by:

  • Eliminate sweet, processed foods.
  • Using lettuce instead of bread for your sandwiches.
  • Replace your morning bagel with an omelet full of veggies.
  • Purchase keto buns and bread substitutions.

You can also bring in foods that support your body’s resiliency to stress, like our Stress-busting Kale Salad recipe or one of these 13 Stress-Busting Foods.

Ready to track this micro-habit? Download the Daily 9 Micro-Habit Tracker for free.

Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Put Yourself First
Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress: Put Yourself First

7. Put Yourself First

Last, but definitely not least, for micro-habits that reduce stress: Put yourself first.

So many of us are afraid to say no when people reach out for help, advice and support, and by not considering whether saying “yes” is good for us, it can easily lead to incredibly high stress levels.

Are you someone who often takes on more than you can handle?

Are you a “yes” person?

Are you finding yourself emotionally and mentally depleted because you give so much of yourself to others?

Are you struggling through toxic relationships that don’t add any value or happiness to your life?

And being a “yes” person doesn’t just apply to your personal life, but quite often “yes” people are the same way with their jobs or careers.

They don’t want to miss out on an opportunity so they sign on for as many tasks or projects as possible.

They’re worried that they’ll fall behind the competition, so they say yes to every marketing strategy or new course that pops up online claiming to help them enhance their business skills.

Sometimes managers will reward hard workers with a higher workload output, assuming they’ll be motivated by the bonus despite any consideration as to whether they will be able to perform consistently at the required level.

All of this often backfires since people can only do so much before burning themselves out and depleting themselves of that creative energy and motivation to excel. Even if you’re someone who thrives under pressure, the truth is, we all have a breaking point.

If you find yourself in this situation, take a step back and look over your workload. Ask yourself what you can get done within a reasonable amount of time, and then discuss this with your manager, business partner – or simply yourself!

Explain why taking on a heavier workload will cause your current one to suffer in quality. And if you work for yourself, consider restructuring your schedule and reducing your workload by getting rid of the tasks that you don’t personally need to do. Learn to delegate or outsource.

Above all else, be selective with your overall workload and what you say yes to for others. Prioritize what household chores need to be done, what bills must be paid right away, and know when to say no. If someone else is asking you for help, then chances are good they understand what it means to have too much on your plate.

Ready to track this micro-habit? Download the Daily 9 Micro-Habit Tracker for free.

Saying “no” is a form of self-care.

Danielle Atcheson, NBC-HWC, CHN

Summary: 7 Micro-Habits to Reduce Stress

  1. Get Movin’
  2. Limit Phone Notifications & Noise
  3. Get Quality Sleep
  4. Reduce Caffeine Intake
  5. Listen to Uplifting Music
  6. Reduce Processed Carb Intake
  7. Put Yourself First

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to relieve stress, but it does require paying close attention to your triggers and making a consistent, conscious effort to reduce your stress levels wherever you can before it catches up to you.

I suggest making one change at a time and sticking to it for a week or so. Once that change becomes a habit, move onto something else, if needed. Incorporate the ideas into your lifestyle until you have the perfect mixture of stress-relieving tools. Use my Healthy Habit Tracker to get started on implementing and assessing how these micro-habit changes are helping you reduce your stress. Get your Healthy Habit Tracker here.

Track this new habit:

Check off this habit in your Healthy Habits Tracker (download yours for free here).

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Danielle Atcheson, NBC-HWC, CHN, LMC, CGP

Danielle Atcheson, NBC-HWC, CHN, LMC, CGP

Danielle Atcheson is on a mission to inspire healthier living using the power of micro-habits.

She’s a popular speaker, a board-certified health & wellness coach, and founder of One Degree Health.

As a former Fortune 500 executive, she knows firsthand how a busy schedule can interfere with prioritizing our health.

Danielle started One Degree Health to share her Micro-Habit Mindset and wellness formula with other busy professionals through engaging workshops, online coaching & nutrition programs, and private coaching.

Founder & Chief Wellness Officer, One Degree Health; Functional Nutritionist, Lifestyle Medicine Specialist, Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Gluten-Free Practitioner, Plant-Based Nutrition certified from Cornell University.

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