Tricks for De-Stressing Our Lives
When the Gem State Writers (waving madly to Clarissa) asked me to blog about staying healthy while under pressure, I thought it was the perfect topic given our stressful, hectic lives.
Now, I can’t speak directly to any known research correlating stress with illness. I can only go on my own personal experience which says, if I’m stressed out, chances are some type of health issue will follow, whether in the form of a nasty head cold or a tweaked shoulder. Let’s face it, being over-stressed is just bad for our bodies. From problems at our day jobs, to our kids, to spouses, or deadlines, there’s no getting around the fact that we all have to deal with stress, especially in today’s economic environment. Here are some of my more battle-tested ways to cope.
Make lists. I’m a great list maker; picked the habit up from my mom. Each morning I write down what I want/need to accomplish that day. Everything from cleaning the breakfast dishes, to going to work, to walking the dogs, to picking the kids up after soccer practice, gets written on that to-do list. This helps me stay organized and less frazzled. I’ve also learned to be specific in what I write down. Instead of writing “work on my novel” on my list, I define exactly what scene or chapter I want to work on. If I’m feeling particularly brave, I might also set a goal for x-number of words or pages to be completed that day.
Exercise. (You knew that one was coming, right?) I know we’re all busy and stressed and that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that needs doing. But exercise, whether walking for fifteen minutes at lunch or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, helps our bodies and minds to de-stress. It also boosts our immune systems so we’re better able to fend off those icky viral diseases. And please don’t give the excuse that you can’t find the time to exercise because you’re right. You can’t find time. You have to make time. J
Drink plenty of H2O. Water helps to flush toxins from our bodies, makes our skin look healthier and adds to an over-all feeling of well-being. The rule of thumb is eight 8-ounce glasses a day. (More if you sweat a lot in your Zumba class. J) Some argue that drinking coffee or tea is just as good and I agree, but only to a point. Make it tea and decaf. Preferably green or black.
Strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I know that one’s a tall order. There are so many other things we could be doing instead of sleeping. But getting enough rest helps our immune systems stay healthy and strong. If you have a hard time dozing off, drink chamomile tea before bed or put a bowl of lavender potpourri in by your bed. Lavender is a natural “calmer” and might help to speed the Sand Man. You can also use lavender scented hand lotion during the day. It’ll help to keep you from going postal at work. J
Choose your battles. This was advice I got when our son was born and it works not only for your kids, but for your spouse, siblings, co-workers. You name it. Ask yourself if a particular argument is really worth having? Or is it better to take the high road and keep your blood pressure on the low road? This also applies to total strangers. You know, the jerk who cuts you in traffic? If he/she is so stupid as to be in such a hurry, let ‘em have the lane. Getting to your destination in one piece is way more important.
Do nightly affirmations. This is a habit I got into after my back surgery last fall. I call them the I will list. At that time, I’d say affirmations like I will learn to take better care of my back or I will regain my good health over and over before going to sleep. I think this is one of the main reasons I healed as quickly as I did. (Plus I had a to-die-for surgeon who did an awesome job.) I still do affirmations, though they’ve changed a bit. Now I say I will accept there are things I cannot change. (That’s a toughie for me.) I’ve even used affirmations when dealing with plot problems in my stories or when bumping up against a deadline. (I will figure out this #$% plot. I will finish the edits for chapters three and four. Etc.) The key is to say I will… not Give me strength for… or Let me find… I will is strong and decisive, leaving no wiggle room.
Try to meal plan for the week on the weekend. Nothing’s worse than spending all day at work only to realize that the cupboard’s bare at home. And eating from of a take-out window can be expensive and bad for our waistlines. Work with your spouse and kids to come up with easy-to-reheat meals for the weeknights. You’ll find tons of great recipes on the Internet. Yes, it takes a bit of planning, but in the long run, meal planning is cheaper and healthier. Besides, evening time should be quality time for you and your family. And the less time you spend in the kitchen means more time for them, and you.
Last, but certainly not least, Be kind to yourself. None of us are Super Women or Super Men nor we should try to be. We should just try to be our best. So cut yourself some slack and take a moment to enjoy the sunset or the sunrise or to smell the flowers. Remember the things that are truly important, and they’re probably not anything we stress about on a daily basis.
So these are my tips for a less stressful life. What are some of the tricks you use? Please share. Or you can email me at Lynda@lyndabailey.net
Thanks for having me Gem State Writers!