I think by now we all realize that stress impacts our overall health. Yet, no one has found the magic wand to wave to make stress go away.
There are steps we can take to decrease our stress, or even just manage it better. Stress negatively impacts our sleep. A good place to start then, is by creating some good sleep habits. A sleep routine is great for our overall health. It is important to get ready for bed before we are too tired. Being a mom of little kiddos, I find that getting into jammies and brushing my teeth when they do is perfect. It gives me time to wash dishes, wind down, drink sleepy time tea, all before I’m bone tired. No electronics is so hard in this day and age. Set an alarm on your phone that tells you, it is time to turn off the tv and charge your phone. My phone goes into Do Not Disturb by 830 pm, so if I’ve ever replied to you after that, consider yourself lucky. Once I plug my phone in to charge, the cord intentionally does not reach my bed. I do like to listen to a meditation before I close my eyes, and that is on my phone. I don’t need to touch it once I hit play though.
Read before bed instead of watching tv. It is amazing how much more I accomplish in a day since I’ve quit tv. Now, I do like to keep up on a couple shows, I’m not anti all tv. I prefer to read the news, as I can skip through more articles, still getting the gist of what is being said. It takes an anchor’s bias out a bit too, because tone and inflection are gone in written word. I have been inspired by how many books I am able to read in a year too. It just takes a couple of minutes, most days, to really add up to a lot of pages. I do try to read at least one book for fun each month. The rest of my books are memior/biography type, self help/mindset based, or Christian books. Right now, I am reading two books. On my kindle, I’ve been reading The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith. I picked up The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. They had it on a display for black history month and it jumped out at me.
Journaling and brain dumping and scheduling are other great components as to how I handle stress. It is often said to keep a notebook on your nite stand. When you can’t sleep, jot down all the thoughts racing through your head. I haven’t gone to that level. But I have become quite the master of scheduling things out. I am by no means a slave to my schedule, but it does help to keep me focused. I am constantly adding lists to the side, for future projects and ideas. I find that when left on my own, I keep myself busy doing lots of things, but am left feeling overwhelmed and under-accomplished. With a schedule, even when things go array, I still can see I did the most important tasks. Or even yet, I can see when I avoid the most important tasks and need to jump on the ball.
With the brain dumping is prioritizing. I find myself on repeat to people, You cannot do all the things, all the time. We fall too easy to the comparison trap in these days of social media. I consider Facebook my highlight reel. Want to know what daily life is like, just ask. I don’t need a memory to pop up every year about the day the dog puked on the floor, the kid peed his bed, the other kid threw a tantrum about homework, I forgot to get the big kid at the train station, and I burned dinner. Epic failure of a day, but that is real life sometimes, I promise. When I make goals for a month, I write all the things I want to accomplish and do, and then look at the month and see what I can fit into a month. If I need to get back to the basics of putting away laundry the day it is washed, making sure I check in with my people daily, and working out every day, then that is where my goals end up. But if I have a month where I want to focus on fun activities, I load the month up with everything I can make time for. I can’t have both those months within the same month, and I’m ok with that.
I feel there has been a lot of talk recently about self-care. While I am all for self-care, a lot of the talk seems to be around pampering more than care. Pedicure, massage, and a night out with the girls all sound amazing. And all are necessary. But self care is taking care of yourself. Drinking your water, going to bed on time, talking kindly to yourself and about yourself. Make sure you are doing those things. We can’t all afford a pedicure and massage, and maybe our eating style doesn’t lend itself to a nite of beer. Self care doesn’t have to cost any money, and can be done in a very small window of time.
A last way I combat stress is weekly chiropractic appointments. The act of an adjustment actually releases stress from your body. I have also found that going every week keeps me more in tune with my body. I realize that I’m clenching my shoulders or holding stress in my low back, which enables me to counteract the stress faster.
What kinds of things do you do to manage your stress? Where have you seen benefits of tackling your stress?