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How To Reduce Stress

By Feb 1, 2012January 30th, 201547 Comments

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Continuing in our series about your well-being is a great post today about how to reduce stress in your life. Are you up to the challenge that Gina from Slappy In The Face is doing?


A few months ago I went to the doctor for headaches. They couldn’t find anything wrong, but suggested that it might be TMJ from grinding my teeth. Wait! I don’t grind my teeth. Only I do. I grind them a lot. I grind them when I am reading. I grind them when I am concentrating. I grind them when I am sleeping. Even my teeth are stressed. The dentist told me that I needed to reduce the amount of stress in my life.

I laughed in his face. I have five teenagers, work a full time Accounting job, have a husband who works shift work and write on the side. I barely have time to go to the bathroom on most days, how was I going to have time to reduce stress?

The headaches got worse and my gums started to bleed. Something had to change. So I worried about what to change … which caused my blood pressure to go up, which didn’t help the headaches or the teeth grinding. Since giving up on life was not an option, I started my own “Quest to Destress”.

I started cleaning out my life, literally and figuratively and post about my journey on my site, Slappy in the Face.

Clean Up

The process has to start with a Godzilla sized clean out of your space. That includes your car, your purse, your house and your office. Devote some serious time to it. Plus staying at home in the evening and on the weekends saves money … which can be used to pay off debt or buy boxed wine, both of which will decrease your stress level.

Deal With the Piles

Cleaning out your space results in piles. Piles of clothes you no longer wear … donate them. Piles of books you never have time to read …. keep the ones that you are seriously going to read in a place where you will see them often, don’t buy any new books until all of those are read, and donate the ones you know you will never open.

Piles of magazines with articles that you want to read or pictures of the kinds of dog that you want to get (someday) or pictures of fantubulous furniture that you will never be able to afford …. unsubscribe to the magazines you don’t really like (this was a tough one for me … I subscribe to nearly twenty), tear out the pages that you really want to keep, start a folder for the pages of those puppy pictures and funky furniture, then donate the magazines to your local women’s shelter or recycle them.

Piles of unused beauty products … if they are expired, throw them out … if it’s something you will actually use put the bottles out in the open (I lined mine up on the side of my bathtub) so that you will see them on a regular basis. This idea works with all of the food in your kitchen cabinets too. Sure it might look like you are a hoarder for a few days (or weeks), but too damn bad … you are de-stressing.

Use Before You Buy

The important thing is to NOT buy anything new until you have seriously used up what you have. You do NOT need another bottle of strawberry scented shampoo when the orange scented stuff will work just as well! You do NOT need to stop on the way home from work for dinner when there are four pizzas in your freezer! You do NOT need to buy another book or magazine when you have a pile of them just begging to be read!

Stay at Home

The clean out process can be combined with a declaration to stay home for a certain period of time. I have declared January to be “Go Nowhere Month”, which means that unless it is absolutely necessary, I am going to try to stay home in the evenings and on the weekends … cleaning out cabinets, closets, and under beds while saving money. By staying home, you also have more time to watch old movies, read those books and magazines, go for walks and suck up some fresh air.

Cleaning out your life really does make a difference on your level of stress. Less clutter equals less worry in so many ways.


One of the most important things in my Quest is taking the time to breathe. I stay in bed for a few minutes after the alarm clock goes off …. just breathing. I close my eyes for a few minutes while I am in the bathtub …. and just breathe. When I get home from work, I sit in the car for just a few minutes …. just breathing. Take the time to breathe.

De-stressing takes a serious commitment of time and energy at the beginning, but it pays for itself in the long run.

More From Our How To Series

Check out some of the posts our SITStahs have published previously!

About the Author

Slappy in the FaceHowdy! (that’s how we greet in Oklahoma) I am Gina, but you can call me Slappy.  I picked that blog/nickname before I really knew what it meant.  Oh well … I have been called worse.  I am a child of a hoarder, been married to a firefighter for twenty years, overcame prescription drug addiction and a mental illness diagnosis and have five teenagers.  I blog about my crazy daily life and my intense like of boxed wine.  I am currently on a Quest to Destress my life and post about it at http://www.slappyintheface.com

Want To Write For Us?

Are you interested in guest posting for The SITS Girls? Then let us know! Our super easy process is described in this post. We’d love to drive more page views to what you have to say.

About Alina Thomas

Alina is a Northern Virginia wedding photographer based out of Leesburg, VA. She has a passion for arts and design, and strives to express it through her work. She is creative at heart and loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge in photography with other Virginia wedding photographers on her blog each week. Alina loves being a new mom to her first-born and spending time with her husband who helps her run her businesses. Please feel free to follow her on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+.


  • Mollie says:

    Thank you for the great tips! I am definitely guilty of keeping too much make up and buying too much food when there is already stuff at home. I’m off to clean! Thanks again.

    • Every few weeks, we “shop the cupboards” and figure out what meals we can make with what we have. We are always shocked at how much food we need to eat.

  • Pamela list says:

    I think we could all use the clean out process in our lives. There is an article I read the other day on this guy’s desk. He literally hate figured out a way to clear it to a notepad, computer and phone. All the doodads were velcroed (is that a word) to the back of his computer. Even his paper in boxes! It was amazing, and I was insanely jealous.

    thanks for a great post,

    • About once a week, I declare it time for The Five Things Challenge on Twitter and I post that people should “clean 5 things off of your desk, out of your purse, or out of your car (or office) … RIGHT NOW!”

  • Stefanie says:

    Thank you for reminding me to stop and breathe…it’s hard to imagine anyone could hold their breath indefinitely, but somehow I manage to…and forget to live my life in the process. Thank you!

    • Start your day just breathing … sit in your car for thirty seconds when you get to work and just breathe …. do the same thing when you get home. It really does make a difference.

  • I’ve been destressing my life this year in small ways. One thing I’ve done is decide I’m only making one trip to Walmart a month. If we run out of something (other than toilet paper!) then we have to make do until next month. This was in response to my children who believe our pantry and linen closet hold endless supplies of what they want. Just that one decision has cut my errands down considerably!

    • Great job !!! We have cut down our large grocery trips from weekly to monthly. It’s actually nice to stay home on the weekends and not waste time and gas going to the store every week.

  • Thank you for this post – I have been needing inspiration to de-clutter and you definitely just gave me some!!!!

  • Patricia says:

    Good for you for taking this big, big step! It took almost a year, but my partner and I finally went through every drawer, closet and lordee-beee the garage. David had been a teacher for many years and retired eight years ago. He kept every paper, article, roster, test, etc. he ever used in the garage ~ floor to ceiling boxes of paper and two filing cabinets jam packed. But he (we) did it! It was the most amazing experience. There is space and organization and relaxation. Life is good!

  • Kathleen says:

    I have done so much decluttering in the past year it is amazing. What is still more amazing is that I am not done yet! But, life is MUCH more simple now. Yes in deedy it is!

  • Melissa says:

    Such great advice. I’m pretty organized — except for my to-do piles, which sometimes get neglected for months. Once I’ve got everything cleaned up and in piles, there’s nothing “visually” annoying for me to deal with! So out the brain it goes.

    One thing I have adopted lately, is keeping my “surfaces” clean. This isn’t easy, with a 5 and 3 year old, but I just think better when I see a clean countertop. Or an empty side table. Ahhh. Don’t get me wrong, the kids’ toys are, literally, everywhere… but if my coffee table is cleared off, I, too, find myself breathing easier.

    • Great idea on the clean surfaces ! Take a day and just work on the “To Do” piles …. if it’s not something critical, it can wait … but you will feel so much better for at least working on them.

  • Luci says:

    Good going, Gina! It IS a project to get de-stressed. And, it’s worth it. I came off a very intense CEO and GM job but just in time to recognize that it was tearing away at my health. It’s been a long journey (several years and several life-changes) but I’m so much healthier, happier, and less sleep-deprived than I’ve been in a long time! Now I help people get healthy with food, exercise and time-management online. We need people to help us get healthy, and stress is a big health-risk.

    • One of the toughest parts for me was realizing that it is an ongoing project. If you give yourself a timeline then you just get stressed about not getting the decluttering done … which defeats the purpose. Baby steps are okay as long as you keep on stepping.

  • I totally HEAR you! Getting rid of the clutter not only clears out your home but clears out your mind. I also like the “just breathe” tip. Yeah- I need to do that one more…..

  • I totally agree with cutting down on the clutter and getting organized. I start to feel overwhelmed and a bit depressed when there’s too much stuff.
    I also think getting enough sleep, exercise and quiet time all help too. I’m in the process of working on all three.

    • I have learned that having less clutter gives me more time to rest, exercise and meditate. Some things are just more important than having more “stuff”.

  • Shell says:

    Great ideas!

  • Fantastic tips! Whenever I purge my closet I feel great. This spring, we’ll be cleaning the garage. I don’t even know what’s out there. Our goal is to send two loads to the dump and organize the rest.

    Recently, I cleaned up my photography studio/office and it’s gorgeous. I just like sitting in their and looking around at all the space. My dogs hang out with me and it’s a little bit of heaven.

    Whenever I follow some of the steps you listed, I feel like taking a huge exhale.

  • I have a dear friend who is so weighed down right now by so much else in her life, and she has decided that one concrete way that she can do ONE thing to help manage her uncontrollable life, is by cleaning out her clutter.

    I hope she carries through on her resolutions. I think it WILL help her peace of mind.

    Better than sitting in front of the computer all day, spinning your wheels. (I’m speaking to myself, here.)

  • I love this! I”m a reformed stress headache/teeth grinder too. And I had no idea. And I cured a lot of it by decluttering. You are SO spot on. I read somewhere that all things are spiritual. Temporal things like things and stuff and papers and extra and money and debt – they’re all, in the end, spiritual, meaning they affect our spirits. When we simplify and clear out we make way for better. And your advice to breath – so simple and so effective. What a fantastic reminder. I wish you still teeth and gums and jaw and deep breaths! Thanks for putting it out there.

    • I so agree on the spiritual connection! Cleaning out things has completely changed my way of thinking. I no longer look to “things” to make me happy or content.

  • Ashley says:

    Thanks for the great ideas! De-stressing is something I think we all battle with at times.

    Another thing I find helpful when trying to relieve stress is exercising. Even if it’s as simple as taking the dog for a walk. It not only helps me clear my head, but the endorphin rush definitely improves my mood. Sometimes I find it hard to find the time to go to the gym, but I never regret going!

    Great post!

    • I so need to get back into the habit of walking in the evenings. I felt so much better when I did it, not to mention the need to reduce the chub that has attached itself to my gut.

  • Marie Cole says:

    I am actually in the midst of cleaning out at my own house this month, too funny, I have a big house so everything is in a cabinet but seriously just because I have alot of cabinets doesn’t mean they need to be filled, which they were. It feels great! 🙂

  • Chach @ the third boob says:

    A very timely post for me. I am headed over to your blog to read more!

    A fellow stressed-out teeth grinder. 🙂

    • Just click on the topic of “Quest to Destress” on the right hand side of the screen and it will take you to all of my posts about cleaning out my life. Thanks for reading! Good luck on your journey. We can do this !!

  • Saffron says:

    I love this post. It’s so important to use these methods, proactively if possible. They might seem like little tasks individually but combined they are powerful. Even for those of you who don’t feel stressed right now, if you can only choose one of these things to do in a week, it uplifts you.

    I am experiencing stressful circumstances right now, that I can’t change. However, when I got home last week I forced an avalanche of clothes from my wardrobe and put the garments into bags labelled BIN, CHARITY, GIVE TO FRIENDS, SELL, or back into my wardrobe next to like colours, it was refreshing!

  • I just move every six months or so. That takes care of any clutter. Don’t know about the stress, though…

  • I need to clean out my cabinets to find out what I already have. Thank you for the reminder!

    • I took all of the unused body washes out of the cabinet and lined them up on the side of the tub, so that they will be a constant reminder that I need to use them all up before I buy more. Now I get downright giddy when I finish a bottle of body wash.

  • Lately, I’ve been staring at 3 piles of paper in my office and it’s really starting to wear me down. I’m sure I’ll feel relieved if I can get rid of those – I’ll start today!