How to Cope with Stress in the Home
This article expands on the coping skills with more specific information on how to manage stress in your home life. Most of stress at home comes from doing household chores, clearing clutter, paying bills, and dealing with general disorganization. This article provides you with ways on how to make your home a better place for relaxation.

Handling Household Chores
One of the things people find hardest to do is to come back home from work and do more work. It is bad enough fighting work stress and traffic to get home, but knowing you have to cook, mow the lawn or deal with a pile of laundry can add to your daily stress.

The first step to handling stress at home is teamwork with family or the people you live with. Good teamwork involves the concept of helping each other keep your living space neat and tidy. It begins with everyone doing an equal share of work depending on their skills and abilities.

Good communication is essential for teamwork. By talking to the people around you and appealing to their sense of fairness, you can get their help in doing everyday chores and lessen your workload and stress.

Here are some things you can do:

Work together to achieve resultsWork as a team in a group project cleaning out the basement, organizing the family room, or weeding the garden.

Delegate – Delegate tasks other family members can do easily, like loading or unloading a dishwasher.

Don't let things pile upGet everyone to put their dirty dishes into the dishwasher right away or their dirty laundry into separate baskets in the laundry room.

Simplify entertaining – Use paper cups and plates at parties to simplify cleanup.

Get help when you need it - A good bookkeeper, accountant, someone to mow your lawn, or clean your house can take a lot of stress off you.

Prioritize and get it done – Prioritize what is important to you and get it done. Leave out chores that are not important, can be handled by another member of the family, or can be handled at a later time.

Reduce your workload You don't have to iron everything in your laundry basket. Try to reduce washing every week and try to stretch it to every two weeks by doing the following:

  1. Get kids to wear their clothes a little longer rather than putting them in the wash even if they have worn it for a few hours.
  2. Buy more socks, underwear and some extra pants and shirts to help stretch the laundry cycle.

Appliances save time – Appliances like a microwave or dishwasher can save you time and effort. Air-dry your dishes – turn off your dish washer after the rinse cycle and open your door to let the dishes dry without any electricity. It's better than using a towel to hand dry and saves you some money.

Nothing is perfect – You can't have a perfect house all the time, especially if you have kids. However, you can confine clutter to a single area like a family room, or basement play room and minimize your work.

Cook and Freeze – Cook an extra batch of food and freeze it for a week.

Downsize – Depending on your situation, you can downsize to a smaller home or apartment which is easier to maintain.

What to do today -

Do the following starting today to launch your effort to reduce stress and free-up more time for relaxation at home:
  • Work with your family to identify chores they can help you with.
  • Help them get started in the areas you have identified. Never criticize, always encourage. Remember no one is perfect.
  • Select some chores you can hire someone to do, like getting a student to mow your lawn.
  • Identify some appliances that may make life easier for you.
Think of some food you can cook and freeze for meals during the week, rather than cook everyday. Books that could help are "The Everything Meals for a Month Cookbook." By Linda Larsen or "Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer: Great-Tasting Meals You Can Make Ahead" by Susie Martinez.
Handling Procrastination
Procrastination can lead to undue stress and depression. It is summed up as follows by Rita Emmett, author of the Procrastinator's Handbook.

It is the dread of doing a task that uses up more time and energy than the task itself.

There are many reasons people procrastinate. Some of the main reasons are:

  • Fear of failing or rejection.
  • Not wanting to deal with unpleasant tasks.
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  • Being totally overwhelmed with the tasks that need doing.
  • Not being organized or not having the skills to complete a job.

This section helps you avoid procrastination:

  • Breakdown tasks into smaller units and deal with each unit at a time.
  • Get help for more complex tasks such as doing your taxes, bookkeeping, etc.
  • Get a daily planner to help you keep track of key dates on which you have to pay bills, pay taxes, call people, etc.
What to do today -

If you are a procrastinator, the following will help you start and successfully complete the tasks you have been putting off:
  • Begin by making an action item list of the tasks you have been putting off.
  • Prioritize the tasks in order of importance and assign a start and end date to each one.
  • Identify all of the resources you need to complete your tasks and have them ready before you begin. For example: have all your checks, bank statements, receipts, etc. in one basket if you are balancing your check book.
  • Start at a convenient time on the date you set for the task, work your way through it until you are done.
The satisfaction of successfully completing one difficult task will motivate you to tackle and complete the rest of them on your list. Don't be discouraged if you hit a roadblock because you don't know how to complete something. Ask for help from a friend, a neighbor, or co-worker if you get stuck.
Clutter and How to Deal with It
If you have a home office,if left unchecked, can quickly fill up with books, old bills, medical records, receipts, catalogs, etc. Finding anything in a disorganized mess can be very stressful.

Clutter leads to poor organization and can be both time consuming and stressful just trying to locate one important item.

If you are faced with this situation, consider de-cluttering or hiring a professional organizer or even a friend for help. Once you decide you need help and ask for it, a disorganized life can change dramatically. With help from a friend or a professional, you can devise a plan to eliminate your clutter. For example, you could spend a Sunday night and organize all your receipts by month and year. You could separate all your credit card statements, invoices, etc., into two piles – one which you would keep and the other which you could shred. After shredding, you would be left with a manageable amount of paperwork which is now sorted by month and filed in a three-ring binder. This organization will give you peace of mind, a sense of satisfaction, and reduce your stress. It is a simple solution and has great benefits.

What to do today -

You can use this strategy or something similar to reduce the paper clutter or general clutter such as old clothes, shoes, toys, magazines etc.,
  • Organize your clutter into three groups - keep, get rid of, and can't make up your mind.
  • Once you have the things you really want, get a storage system (there are many cheap ones you can find at most hardware stores) and organize them.
  • Throw out or give away the items you want to get rid of. You can even have a garage sale and make some money.
  • Finally, do an honest review of the things you can't decide about and either put them into storage or get rid of them.
Dealing with Mail –

Once you have got your office clutter-free, here are some tips to keep it that way:
  • Deal with your mail as it comes in on a daily basis. Put all your junk mail into your recycling box right away.
  • File away important items like insurance renewals, contracts, investment statements, etc., after you have reviewed them.
  • Pay your credit card bills and other invoices right away when required, or put them into a pending action file. Make a note in a calendar when payment is due. If it is a recurring payment, you can mark you calendar accordingly.
  • Once payment has been made, put the item into a "for filing" file.
  • At the end of each month, make sure you file all of the items away.
  • Keep only the items you need (especially those having tax implications)
  • At the end of the year, put items belonging to the past 12 months into a storage box, mark the year on the box, and put it away in storage.
This article discussed methods you could use to live a stress-free lifestyle. We reviewed ways to reduce your household stress, identified stress due to procrastination and how to counter that, and illustrated de-cluttering methods you can apply to your own situation.