Life and schedules are hard – there’s no way around it. Between being in charge of your own day-to-day and the successes of others, stress can take hold before you even realize. Below are some practical ways to handle stress and come out on top. Trust us – we’ve been there.
- Get Moving – Many experts say that exercise is the key to stress management. It’s at the very tippy-top of all of lists. But what if heading into the gym isn’t an option? Or what if the very idea of a gym stresses you out more? Don’t worry. Simply being active is a great start. Whether you’re swimming with your kids in the summer, or taking a walk on your lunch break, these small adjustments can make a big impact on your mental well-being.
- Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Often, when we find ourselves stressed, it’s because we’ve taken on too much and we feel alone. Feeling isolated can only add to the weight of the stress you’re feeling. But how do you start to build community? Where do you start? Here are just some of the countless ways to build community with others. (Taken from Inclusion.com)
• Start or join a carpool
• Start or join a walking group in your neighborhood with neighbors or friends
• Support local businesses/merchants
• Attend a local festival or parade
• Read or listen to local news
• Go to a local park
- Abide By The Oxygen Mask Rule – If you’ve ever boarded a flight, you’ve probably heard the flight attendant say that in the event of an emergency before you help others, you need to secure your own oxygen mask. That applies to everyday life, too. You can’t care for your family, friends, and others if you’re wilting emotionally or physically. Self-care takes innumerable shapes, but it’s incredibly important to take some time for yourself, even if it’s not every day. As mentioned, this looks different for everyone: some go for massages, others sit in quiet meditation, some people go swimming. Whatever it is that makes you feel like “you” again, it’s time to do that – with no guilt or shame.
- Color Yourself Creative – Instead of penning up all of that stressed energy, it’s time to release it. Whether you buy an adult coloring book (yes, those exist!), read your favorite novel, listen to a self-made Spotify playlist, or tend to your garden, you don’t have to be Picasso to be creative. Any outlet that allows you the opportunity to explore your interests is valuable. Are you too busy to sit and read? Then find a way to include your kids in your efforts. Update something at home together – make a yard decoration together, or bake.
- Take Control – People with high levels of stress often say that they can’t sleep well. Are you finding yourself tossing and turning, or staring at the ceiling at night? By taking control of your schedule and your to-do list(s), you can release the worry. Keep a pen and notebook next to your bed, so that as you think of the things you need to do the next day, you can release it onto paper. Additionally, write down your and your family’s schedules in a planner or on a master calendar. By seeing how busy you are, it can empower you to say “no,” to additional obligations.
- Learn to Delegate – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is imperative to keeping your head above water. We often try to “do it all,” and that’s when things start to fall apart. Don’t be afraid to tap into community and professional services that can help your life positively. Are you a caretaker for an elderly family member? Find out what senior center activities are in the neighborhood that can keep them active. Do you have a child that’s a little older that can help with household chores? Tap into them for support – it will relieve you, and give them a sense of responsibility. Whatever delegation looks like to you, ask for help. We all have to.
Ultimately, life is imperfect and we all have our stressful days. But it IS possible to break out of an unhealthy (and unhappy!) cycle. Take a breath – and take it easy on yourself. We’re all in this together.