Deadlines, duties, appointments, milestones, and celebrations - we live in a fast-paced world to say the least. Between motherhood, healthy living, our household, work, (phew - are you tired already?), it’s no wonder that stress can creep in and take over, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and less than motivated to tackle life’s to-do list.
It’s important to incorporate strategies that help us de-stress in order to find the energy to focus and feel less overwhelmed. As the fast pace of our busy lives continue, make sure you incorporate at least a few of these ways to overcome stress and perform a little “mood maintenance” that will help you feel a bit of relief.
Identify your stress: This may sound self explanatory, because it’s everything listed above, right? However, often we don’t identify the specific key stressors in our life that trigger us to feel anxious. Without knowing what our stress triggers are, it can be difficult to tame those stresses. For instance, if every evening at dinner time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed looking into an empty fridge and back at hungry family faces, then implementing a meal plan system may be an effective way to help minimize stress in that area.
Keep a stress journal for a week and during times that you are feeling a little coco loco, write down what is stressing you out. Then, at the end of the week – see if you can link particular times, activities, or situations that seem to cause the most friction in your peace. These are your stress triggers.
Exercise: You knew this was coming, right? It’s too obvious not point out. Reese Witherspoon’s character, Elle Woods, from Legally Blonde had it right when she said, “Exercise releases endorphins. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.”
It’s true, carving out the time to focus on caring for our physical selves not only allows us to recognize we are doing something good for our health, but it mentally helps provide clarity and relief by releasing stress-reducing endorphins in our body. Need an instant happy pill? Exercise.
Learn to say 'no': This may be a bigger solution to your stress than you realize. While we may not be able to hide from the fast pace of the world we live in, we can control how out of control we allow it to spiral. Don’t be afraid to miss a birthday party, turn down a role in the PTA, or decline an invitation to a social group or service club if it means adding one more thing to your already overloaded schedule. Don’t say yes just because you're afraid you won’t be asked again, there will likely always be other opportunities to take advantage of these types of activities when your schedule allows. Know your boundaries when it comes to life’s existing obligations that you are already juggling.
Don’t try to control what you cannot: While you can manage your schedule and how you carry out your tasks for the days, your attitude, and how you approach problems, it’s important to also recognize you can’t control everything. For example, and probably the most important, you can’t control how other people feel. If someone is upset with you or you feel like you have caused some ill feelings in someone else’s life, you can control how you react to the problem. However, you can’t continuously stress over their reaction. Learn to recognize what you can control and what is simply out of your hands. Let those stressors that you can’t control go – stressing about them is a waste of useful energy that can be targeted towards other areas in your life.
Connect with those you enjoy: Finding people that you care about and genuinely enjoy being around is great therapy for the soul. Don’t waste too much time on relationships that never seem to go beyond the surface. We already went over learning to say no to less fruitful activities, but do make quality time for those that uplift you. A night spent laughing with girlfriends can do wonders for the soul.
Get enough sleep: This varies for everyone, but in general realizing that getting an adequate amount of sleep for you is one of the leading ways to combat stressful moods. Trying to make decisions and organize tasks when you feel exhausted is a recipe for a stress sandwich.
Incorporate a healthy diet: If you haven’t already done so, then focus on healthy, balanced eating. This means taking the time to eat meals – yes, that means breakfast in the morning even if you hit the ground running every day. Take the time to sit down and eat your primary meals, even if it is only for 20 minutes. This is not only a time to regroup, because it’s important to feel nourished. I think you can agree, there is nothing more grumpy than a hungry belly.
Embrace mistakes: Go ahead and say this out loud: “I am going to make mistakes.” There. Got it? You are going to mess up. It’s going to happen over and over again. You are not perfect. (I know, can you believe it, not perfect?) Striving for perfectionism will likely always lead to disappointment and…you guessed it, stress. What you can do is control how you react to these mistakes. Each mistake is an opportunity to learn and correct the behavior or action that caused the mistake. Remember, life is not a reflection of the mistakes we make, rather how we handle these mistakes that reflects our true character.
Schedule what you love: If there is a particular activity that you love, be sure to schedule time for it on a regular basis. Whether it is biking, gardening, writing, seeing a concert – treat it like you would a doctor’s visit or other important appointment. Schedule it and make time for it. If you don’t have an activity that you enjoy, it’s time to find one. Start trying new things and find something you enjoy. Incorporating activities that we enjoy in life is not only good for stress relief – it’s essential for a happy life! We work hard, take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor every now and then.