Lately stress has been getting in the way of my happiness and balance. With my kids’ schedules, my own work deadlines, family obligations, emails that keep building up, and commitments I can’t neglect, it seems there is very little time for me at the end of the day. Sometimes I feel like my head is spinning. My shoulders and back start to ache. My stomach feels sore. I start to lose my temper more easily and I’m not such a pleasant person to be around (just ask my husband). The culprit in all of this is STRESS. It’s not doing me any good, yet I can’t seem to ditch it.
Here are five of my favorite stress-busters that I’m hoping to make more time for this fall:
1. Stretch. I’ve experienced first-hand the power of exercise and stretching in keeping stress at bay. I’ve had trainers and gym memberships, but the best way for me to stay physically fit is to get outside and move or participate in a yoga class. Both of these provide me with much-needed calm. Exercise doesn’t have to feel like exercise to be good for you. Sometimes a walk in nature or a zen-inducing yoga class is all you need to feel better and more relaxed.
Tip: If you’re stuck at home, try this yoga and meditation series.
2. Eat. For me, skipping meals results in grumpiness. Yet, while I never forget to feed my kids, I often skip lunch when I get too busy. By mid-afternoon, I feel myself getting really stressed out and wonder why. Balanced meals and small snacks are key to feeling better all day. This one, for me, is always a work in progress. Having something on hand, like a prepared meal, is a great way to ensure I take the time to eat, even when I don’t have time to cook.
Tip: Healthy Heart Meals are delicious, nutritious, and require very little prep time. It’s an easy way to get in the habit of eating well-rounded meals.
3. Read. Taking time at the end of every day to enjoy a warm bath and read a good book is one of my favorite ways to put the day’s stress behind me before I go to sleep. I love fiction; books that allow me to escape real life and get lost in the lives of other people. I try to choose books that aren’t too depressing—this is my downtime after all.
Tip: www.goodreads.com is a great way to find out about new titles and to read reviews from readers with similar interests.
4. Think. Or in this case, don’t think. I’ve been working with a life coach (mind happens to be my dad) for quite some time, practicing shifting my thoughts. When a negative, fearful, or stressful thought pops into your head, you have a choice. Entertain the thought, allow it in, and let it take over until you’re feeling sick; or accept it, let it go, and replace it with something that feels better.
5. Go shopping! Or do anything you enjoy. The trick is to give yourself permission to take some time “off” from the business of life. And, enjoy yourself while you’re doing it.
Tip: Ditch the guilt! Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about taking time for you. Give yourself permission to have some fun and you’ll find you’re much more productive during your “on” time.
Tell me, what’s your favorite stress-buster?