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Life is busy! Sometimes the pace and stress of life can make even the little things frustrating. Sometimes, we just need little ways to make life easier. At Legacy Counseling Service in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Dr. Leedy provides therapy for adults who are struggling with stress, depression, anxiety , and insomnia. Although those problems require therapy (learn more about how a psychologist can help you take your life back from depression and anxiety here) and more than a few life hacks to turn them around, sometimes we just need to have some creative ways to ease the small annoyances of life. Try experimenting with these 9 life hacks below and see what you think!

Life Hack #1:

Park Next To The Cart Corral

Instead of getting frustrated from driving around the parking lot looking for the closest space to the entrance, save yourself some time and frustration. Find a spot next to the cart corral!

Benefits:

  • Saves you time by not circling the parking lot
  • Allows you to actually put the cart in the designated spot instead of thinking “I don’t want to leave in the lot where it might hit other cars” or “I don’t want to walk back up to the store with my kids in tow just to put the cart back.”
  • Allows you to put your kids in the car so they are secure while you unload your items and put the cart back….again, guilt free!

Life Hack #2:

Cut the excess top off of chip bags

You know how your hand (and sometimes arm) gets greasy or crumbles all over it from reaching way down deep to the bottom of the bag, only to realize there is barely anything left in the bag? Ugg…so annoying! Instead of dealing with this, simply cut off the excess top of the bag (leave enough so you can still fold it over and close it with a chip clip).

Benefits:

  • Helps your hand and arm not get greasy or dirty from crumbles as you reach down into a half empty bag
  • Gives you a quick visual of how much stuff is left in the bag

Life Hack #3:

Use the “notes” section on your phone to remember information about people

How many times have you had a conversation with someone you just met, and then later than night forget their name, what they do, what they like, kids names, etc. So uncool and embarrassing when you run into that person later on and can’t remember even the small detail about them. Solution? After the conversation is over, take 2 minutes and jot down important information about them and your conversation in the notes section of your phone! Review your notes before you know you will see this person again. If you spontaneously run into them, then take a quick second to excuse yourself to “respond to this text” so you can review your notes. I have notes titled “neighborhood” “school” and “church” and make notes about the folks I meet.

Benefits:

  • Helps you remember important details about them (what they do for a living, hobbies, big things they are working on (getting a master’s degree in education), family members names and ages. Here’s another little life hack: I always write people’s kids ages in relation to my kid. This way if I run into them in a year I’ll remember that their son is 1yr older than my daughter. Voila…I instantly know their kid’s age and approximately grade level. I can say…how is Timmy enjoying 5th grade?)
  • Gives you something to ask them the next time you see them. This increases the connection and the chance of a friendship developing
  • People think you have a great memory for details. But, here’s a nice thing to do…I almost always tell them this life hack so they might start doing it. No need to keep all the good life hacks to yourself!

Want other cool ideas for using your smart phone for health and relationships? Check out my blog about 11 cool apps I like!

Life Hack #4:

Reward Yourself for Meeting Your Goals

Tracking and rewarding yourself for meeting goals is an important part of maintaining motivation and meeting goals! Personally, I usually like to do the old fashioned way with a paper calendar and stickers. Yes, I know, very elementary, but I tell ya, we adults respond really well to stickers too! Sometimes I’ll use an electronic tracking system but I really like the visual aspect of the paper calendar so I can see how I’m doing with my daily goals in relation to the entire month. For example, I reward myself with a smiley face sticker (or sometimes a star) for days that I meet a goal (e.g., exercising). If I want even more information about a particular activity I am tracking, then I will write the letter of what I did. For example, if I’m tracking my daily exercise I will simply write a “W” or “Y” on that day for “walking” or “yoga.” It’s very rewarding to see the calendar begin to fill up with smiley faces, stars, or with “Ws” or “Ys”. I feel accomplished and disciplined. If my calendar is sporadic with my “rewards”, then it gives me a chance to review my schedule and determine what things are making it hard for me to accomplish my goals.

If you want a more sophisticated, portable way of tracking and rewarding yourself, check out this quick video that goes through the top tracking aps for Android and IOS users:

Benefits:

  • It’s simple to do….just put a sticker or star on the days you met your goal. Don’t have stickers? Just draw a smiley face or a star.
  • It’s visual and informative. It gives you a quick picture of your performance and increases your ability to reflect on how meeting your goals impacted other areas of your life, or what may have gotten in the way of you meeting your goals.

Life Hack #5:

Meal plan

I LOVE meal planning! This is probably one of the life hacks that I have been doing the longest. Usually on a Saturday or Sunday morning I will write out meals on a magnetic wipe board that I keep on the refrigerator. I write the days of the week and what’s for dinner that day. This life hack has saved me stress, anxiety, money, and time! Need help meal planning? Check out e-meals. This was the first meal planning tool that I used that required me to do little thinking. Now, I have a bit more time and I enjoy creating my own meal plan from scratch.

Benefits:

  • Helps you utilize what’s already in your pantry and refrigerator
  • Decreases the stress of figuring out what’s for dinner every night
  • Gives you the opportunity to ask family members what they would like to eat, or to plan days for them to cook

Life Hack #6:

Make grocery list based on how you walk through the store

Ok, I think I’m a little nerdy here, and to be honest, most people, even those close to me, don’t know that I do this. But, I think it’s a fun challenge and makes grocery shopping a little more enjoyable. I make my grocery list on my phone (gotta save the trees!) in the order that I walk through in the grocery store. So, I list my fruits first, then root vegetables, then deli meats and packaged meats. Then I list canned items based on the aisle that I come to first after getting my meats. Nerdy….I know! But, the “fun” part about this is that I get to have a little competition with myself to see how quickly I can go through the grocery store based on how efficient my list was made out.

Benefits:

  • Helps you avoid “trigger” aisles (cookie and cracker aisle)
  • Utilizes your time well by only going through sections one time instead of circling back around for forgotten items
  • Saves you time and money by not wandering through the store and picking up impulse items.

Life Hack #7:

Prepare Meals in Advance

This is another big life hack that I love. I try to take some time one a month to make some “freezer” meals so that even on busy nights I can have a home cooked meal for my family to eat. There are TONS of freezer meal websites and cookbooks. Cooking a lot of meals at one time is also super fun to do with a friend! If you don’t’ have time to cook at lot of freezer meals, try starting with just making a few breakfast foods, lunches, or snacks in advance. Or, double up on recipes when you are making them. For example, sometimes when I’m making spaghetti sauce, I’ll make two additional batches in my crockpots and freeze those for later.

Benefits:

  • Saves time and stress from having to cook every night
  • Reduces going out to eat on nights when you are busy or get home late
  • Can enjoy prepping meals with friends

Life Hack #8:

Make a game of “incompatible” behavior.

I have two kids and sometimes the loudness of their sweet little voices is just too much for me. Sometimes they can find their “indoor” voices without much problem, but when they can’t I try to make a game out of doing something that’s the opposite of what’s driving me nuts! I learned this technique when I was a college camp counselor for kids with ADHD.

For example, I might say “ok let’s play a game where you only talk to each other in whispers and let’s see if daddy can hear you even when he’s in the next room!” Or, say you don’t want them running through the house. Make up a game for your kids to play where they “can only walk on their tip toes!” Incompatible behaviors don’t always work especially as kids get older and catch on to this little life hack, but when they do you feel like the coolest, most creative person! Here’s a video on some other ways of changing kids behaviors:

Well, that’s all the life hacks I have for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of my creative (and nerdy) ways I make life a little less stressful and more fun! Comment below with some of your favorite life hacks!

Life Hack #9:

Have a dance party to de-stress!

The end of the work day and the start of the evening at home can be busy and stressful. Maybe you’ve been too stressed at work (learn some quick tips here http://legacycounselingservice.com/10-minutes-calm-quick-strategy-reduce-anxiety-work/). You’re tired, hungry, and stressed with the start of the 2nd half of the day. I get it…I go through it too. I know a lot of people like to turn the TV on right when they get home, but for me the loud commercials and the bad news on TV just adds to my stress. Instead, I turn on music. If it’s just me at home (rare) then I turn on music I can sing my heart out to (hello Adele!). If it’s me and my kiddos, I turn on fun music, push the couches back, and have a dance party for 10 minutes or so. It’s just long enough for me to relax, move my body a bit to work out the kinks from sitting all day, and enjoy my kids before the evening rush of dinner and bath time begins. It helps you focus less on your worries for a little while and sets the tone in your home for the evening….one of relaxation, fun, and enjoying the company of your family. If you find you get stuck in a pattern of stress, check out my blog to learn a bit more about stress and to take a stress test http://legacycounselingservice.com/?p=2308&preview=true.

Benefits:

  • A quick way to release the physical stress of the day
  • A fun way to connect with your kids when you get home
  • Gives your mind a break from your worries
  • Sets the tone in your home for the evening

newbio1Dr. Leedy is a psychologist at Legacy Counseling Service in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She works with clients in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma via face-to-face or online therapy. She LOVES using simple life hacks to make life more enjoyable and ease the stress of a busy life. If you are struggling with stress, depression, or anxiety from a busy life, illness, or insomnia, call Dr. Leedy at 539-777-1129 or visit her website at www.legacycounselingservice.com to discuss how she can help you find hope, joy, and connection!

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