Dave may describe his life as “simple”, but there's a lot to be said about seeking an unassuming lifestyle, and Dave will be the first to tell you that true happiness is not based merely on your possessions. After a successful career in a demanding field, and thanks to his careful financial planning and down-to-earth outlook, Dave is now free to enjoy his retirement and spend more time doing the things that bring him joy.
Of course, if you’re looking for ways to make your life a little less hectic, you don’t have to wait until you retire to start changing your life. So with that in mind, here are some ways you can start today to reduce your stress levels and focus on what’s important in your life.
Declutter to destress
No one is suggesting that you need to give away all your possessions and live a hermit’s existence. But over the years, most of us have surrounded ourselves with things we no longer need, or in some cases may never have needed. The pressure to buy and acquire things is strong in today’s culture, and advertisers are very good at appealing to our desires.
Whether it’s that just-released electronic gadget or elegant trips to exotic hot spots, we’re constantly being bombarded with images of happy people who are all seemingly having a better time than we are. It’s little wonder then that so many of us feel the pressure to live up to this idealized lifestyle.
Unplug from social media
Social media is a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and family anywhere in the world. However, social media can also be relentless, and the compelling need many feel to continuously engage online can become an overriding distraction.
For those who feel that social media takes too much time and energy, the concept of a self-imposed social media cleanse is gaining in popularity. On a more serious note, there's a growing recognition of the potential for some people to develop an addiction to social media, as noted in a paper published by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH).
Social media and internet addiction is not yet identified as a true disorder, but it can most definitely become a compulsion with dire consequences. As noted in the CAMH paper, continued online use is “capable of altering the mood, motivation, concentration and producing a dissociating and disinhibiting experience for users.”
Start your day on the right foot
Does your morning routine start with hitting the snooze button a couple of times, only to frantically run around afterwards to avoid being late for school or work? If you begin each day scrambling to get ready, it’s unlikely things will get calmer as the day proceeds.
That’s why for many people it’s important to get each morning off to a good start, as this helps set the tone for your entire day. Whether that means getting up early enough to get in some exercise or just a few minutes of quiet meditation, reserve some “me time” each morning to get you in the right frame of mind before the day’s onslaught.
Learn to manage your money
As personal debt loads continue to increase, there’s no doubt that many Canadians are suffering considerable stress due to their financial situation. In fact, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canadian household debt hit a record high earlier this year.
The CMHC reported that as of the end of 2018, the debt to income ratio rose to 178.5%. Higher home prices in Canada’s major cities were responsible for much of the increase but as noted in the report, non-mortgage debt is also on the rise.
Those struggling with a heavy debt load are likely not saving as much as they should for their future, and this in itself can be a source of anxiety. For those who are behind in their retirement saving plan, here's a previous article from the Oaken Blog that provides some great ideas to help you catch up.
Plan your evening meals
At first glance, this may seem somewhat frivolous, but most of us can relate to how difficult it can be to pull together a family meal at the end of the workday. All too often, it’s easier to just grab something quick on the way home. Unfortunately, not only does this get costly over time, but fast food options are not always the healthiest of choices. By planning meals ahead of time you’ll not only reduce your anxiety, but you’ll also have better control of your grocery budget.