Stress is just a normal part of every work day, family and life right? Wrong. You may encounter stress on a regular basis, but our minds and bodies are designed to cope with a much smaller amount then we seem willing to bear. Our children have to be at that game, then that concert, then that play group. My boss expects that project on his desk by the start of the next day, send out that email newsletter to all my coworker, or pack for the coming trip. There is the long commute from work or regular activities to deal with and all the energetic drivers that share the road with me. The book group that meets right after my last class, but I also have to write that paper and submit my work before midnight tonight. Don’t get me started on the exam tomorrow morning that I have yet to study for.
Breathe. That is the second step to relieving some of that stress and the first is just as simple… realizing your stressed. Of course, this is only the beginning, but it is also far from the end. Most of our stress is self induced. Our children do not need to play every sport or attend every school event. Our neighbors won’t think less of us it is takes us a month to get to know them. The bake sale may still make money if you offer up oreos, or better yet, milano cookies. You have a choice and you do not need to run yourself ragged trying to fit less important activities into your day.
Though you cannot put off your boss, reschedule your exams or turn in a late paper, and you certainly cannot change the traffic- don’t we all wish!- you can control the extras in your life that make it harder to control and have time for the necessities. For those that seem to be in a cycle of uncontrollable madness, it will not last forever. Now, I am sure you are wondering just what I think you could possibly do to lessen the stress and I am happy to answer your silent question. These are just ideas and once you get reading you may have an “Ah Ha” moment that brings out a suggestion that is more tailored to your needs and interests.
Read. Yup, that favorite friend sitting on the shelf or the stranger whose spine you have yet to crack has the ability to transport you away from your troubles and into a world where you are only an observer. Watch a sad movie. Let me tell you, there is nothing like a good cry to wipe away the pain, fear, and worry that stress just insists upon inviting to the party. Call up your closest friend. Many a time I have taken advantage of the friend that is happy to help me see beyond my problems into the wonderful world of the future. Just remember to be as available when they need the same. Take a bath. Showers can be helpful in a pinch, especially if you have a really good massaging shower head, but it can never measure up to a good bath with low lighting, silence or quiet music, or bath salts if your are so inclined. Stroke a dog or cat. There are no end of studies proving that loving an animal is the fastest way to lower your heart rate and calm your nerves.
Surf the blogs. Though forgetting the world beyond these four walls is best for some, others find their happy place in dreaming of projects, places, clothes, or electronics. Crochet, knit, embroidery, hand quilting. For those who cannot conceive why adding another project could possibly make anyone feel better, keep in mind there are many of us that find comfort and clarity in the weaving or clicking of needles. Meditate. This should be a no-brainer. You would have to live under a rock to not hear of the benefits of clearing your mind and perfecting focus. Play a game. Sometimes you just need to allow yourself to let loose and become hopelessly lost in a silly game. Do not understimate the power in laughter. Work out. For those of us who suffer from lack of sleep when stressed or who find it easier to think through their situation when pushing their body to the limit, you must make time for exercise. Essential oils. Thankfully no longer considered quack medicine, oils are proven to help your body do everything from relaxing and finding clarity to sleeping and- would you believe it?- relieving stress!