Organizing for Stressful Times

peaceful rocks and waterThese are stressful times.

And I think we’re all feeling it one way or another.

(I originally wrote this post during a specific national crisis, but really, every day is stressful for someone, isn’t it?)

Are you remembering to take care of yourself?

I forget sometimes, so I’m writing this for myself as much as for you.

Organizing for stressful times means planning what you will do for yourself when, not if, those times occur.

Organizing for stressful times means planning what you will do for yourself when, not if, those times occur. Click To Tweet

Here are my suggestions:

Control What You Can

Worrying is a form of mental clutter. And it’s a waste of time and energy to worry about things we can’t control. If you can do something about it – great! Take action! If nothing else, you can create a calm space in your home by decluttering. We all have different comfort levels, but if you look around and your stuff makes you anxious, it’s time to do something about it.

Create Systems & Routines

Systems make your life easier. It’s nice to have things on autopilot and not have to reinvent the wheel each time a task needs doing. Unless, of course, you are over-organized and your systems are too complicated. Simplify where necessary. Ask for help if you need it!

Get Back on Track

Here are a few of the many things that can derail your otherwise functional routine: illness (physical or mental; temporary or chronic); travel (work or pleasure); and being glued to the TV news for a few days straight during a crisis. A soon as you recover, return, or tear yourself away from the TV (not that TV watching is inherently a bad thing!), focus on getting back on track without beating yourself up.

Schedule Relaxing Activities

During stressful times it’s sometimes hard to think of what will make it better. Why not make a checklist to help you remember your choices? What would you put on your list? Read a good book? Drink a cup of hot tea? Spend time in nature? Play with your kids or pets? Enjoy a hobby? Call a friend? Coloring book? Hot tub? Massage? Yoga? Remember to schedule time for getting things done AND for relaxing.

Be Grateful, and Other Mushy Stuff

Seriously — for a little vacation from what’s NOT working, I find it instantly helpful to focus on what IS working. Make a list of things you are grateful for. Read the notes in your Gratitude Box. Help someone else. Volunteer. Pray. Remember to always believe in yourself.

Focus on Your Health

And yes, of course…during stressful times, as well as in peaceful times, one will always feel better eating healthy foods, getting enough quality sleep, and getting some exercise…you know the drill!


What is your go-to G-rated stress reliever?

Please share in the comments below.

And please — take care of yourself, and I will too!

Copyright 2018-2019 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
I welcome social media links directly to this page!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.


Share this:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Diane Quintana on October 1, 2018 at 7:43 am

    To de-stress I either work in my garden or get out my needlepoint. Both are relaxing for me. I can let my mind wander to think through what’s causing the stress (if I’m stressed) or just enjoy the time spent doing the things I love to do.

    I love your mention of gratitude notes. I keep a daily journal in which I record the things I am thankful for each day.

  2. Seana Turner on October 1, 2018 at 7:53 am

    The world at large has felt stressful to me for a long time, and the media’s constant need to come up with cringe-worthy breaking news every moment does get to me. Routines and order always calm me down. I think many organizers, when feeling stressed out, clean out a closet. I know I do:) Now that my girls are out of the nest, I tend to go through their rooms and try to find more to get rid of. Yes, I still have a lot of their stuff because one is still in school and the other lives in a small apartment. Somehow the process of clearing the unnecessary makes me feel a bit more in control.

  3. Janet Barclay on October 1, 2018 at 9:05 am

    A couple of things have worked for me lately. One was a photography project. Even though I wasn’t excited about doing it, once I got started, I got right into it, taking my mind off of other things and making the time fly. Another was a phone call with my sister. Even when we have no news to share, we always find things to talk about!

  4. Sabrina Quairoli on October 1, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Ahhh, my favorite topic, Hazel! Thank you for sharing your tips. I find that giving myself a facial or doing my nails while watching a movie helps me decompress. Sunday evening is a perfect time for me. The anxiousness of the week ahead gets overwhelming so after I review the week’s activities, I then, take care of myself by doing one or two of these tasks.

  5. Linda Samuels on October 1, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Your post is so timely. Normally I’m not as glued to the news as I’ve been this past week. And it is VERY stressful. I know I’m not the only one. I love your tips for destressing, especially during stress-filled times. It’s funny that you mentioned coloring books. One of my friends gave me one (and colored pencils to go with it) as a destresser because of this past week. I have to admit that while I’m normally not much of a coloring book person, there was something quite soothing about coloring in shapes. The other thought that came to mind as I read your post was about worry. I don’t like worrying. And in general, I tend not to. However, I AM human, so there are times when I do worry. And it makes me nuts. At those times I think about something my uncle says and it always helps. Uncle Lew says, “Let’s leave worry as a last resort.”

  6. Hazel Thornton on October 21, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Wow, looks like I missed this one altogether in terms of replying to Janet, Diane, Seana, Sabrina and Linda. I appreciate all of your comments, and your continuing support!

  7. Ronni Eisenberg on October 21, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Cheers Hazel!

    This post absolutely drew me in from, “Are you remembering to take care of yourself?” I felt like you were talking directly to me and not just writing an article.
    It’s smart that you posted “Organizing for Stressful Times” a year ago because this is a topic that we need to be reminded of more than once.
    Stress can be all consuming if we don’t manage it. Preferably sooner than later. Right now, I have a lot on my plate. I lost two dear friends this year. I have new work goals and responsibilities, like my new blog and there are so many moving pieces. I may be great with details but then again, I’m only one person.
    What I’ve started to do when I need to, is take a day off. To do nothing. To relax and chill. To catch up on anything I want to catch up without feeling the threat of a deadline. Basically, it’s taking time for me and owning it. It’s the boost I need to continue my path and grow. Going to the movies isn’t bad either I’m a real moviegoer.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 28, 2019 at 10:18 am

      I agree, Ronni, that taking a day off once in awhile (at least once a week) is important. I, too, enjoy movies and still feel like I’m playing hooky (in a fun way) if I go in the middle of a work day!

  8. Nancy Haworth on October 21, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    These are great tips for dealing with stress. In addition to keeping an organized home and office, I schedule time in my day for exercise. Whether that is a relaxing exercise like yoga or a cardio workout like running, it always helps me to handle stress.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 28, 2019 at 10:31 am

      Agreed, that exercise is a great stress reliever. I think “schedule time” is the key to getting anything done that is truly important to us!

  9. Janet Schiesl on October 22, 2019 at 4:58 am

    Good advice. We all have stress. I’m trying to help my mom with this. As she’s aging her stress level has risen. She worries about everything and a lot of things that she can’t control. Discussing her worries with me has helped. We talk through the things she can’t change and I reassure her that everything will be fine. Expressing your stress to someone else can help.

    • Hazel Thornton on October 28, 2019 at 10:34 am

      For sure, keeping everything inside just increases stress. Sometimes it’s enough to talk to a friend or relative. Other time a therapist or counselor would be of more help. It sounds as though you don’t mind being your mom’s sounding board. But sometimes playing that role can be stressful!

  10. Julie Stobbe on April 27, 2020 at 8:14 am

    i have found that it does take considerable conscious thought to evaluate what is working in my life and what I have scheduled to not be bored. As I became overwhelmed I became more strategic about my time and activities. My most relaxing stress-relieving activity is walking by the water. I find the water is so very calming for me.

  11. Julie Bestry on April 28, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    My stress relief always comes down to finding ways to turn off my brain: dancing around the house and singing (loudly) to 80s music or walking while listening to a podcast that has multiple laughs per minute are best, though delving into a TV show whose characters feel vivid and real can really distract me from worry.

    And sticking to my rituals and systems is the only way to keep situational stress from getting the better of me.

Leave a Comment

Don't miss out!

ENTER your email address below to receive notifications of new blog posts by email. (Don\'t forget to subscribe to my newsletters as well!)

Hazel's Books

Book cover: What's a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy

What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy

Cover of "Go With the Flow! (The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook)"

Go With the Flow! (The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook)

Cover of "Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror"

Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror


Recent Comments