my 4 ways to manage my stress

The stress management list is endless. And I find it to be yet another one of those lists with copious access to tools and ways, but they don’t all work – well, not for me, anyway.
The ones that help me may not necessarily help you. Why? Once again, it’s that necessity to acknowledge that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT!

The 4 ways I am going to list here are things that work FOR ME. You’ve probably heard them before, but here’s a refresher anyway 😉
And if you’ve never tried them, then it might be worth doing so 😉
It works the same as it does with my kids 😛 I always say : ”Don’t tell me you can’t do it, or don’t like it, if you’ve never tried it.” 😉

You know the saying, ”Dance like no one is watching”? Well, I take it one step further, and I also laugh like everyone is watching me dance 😛
I’m not a great dancer. The last time I did ‘official dancing’ was when I went into high school, and I was still taking ballet lessons. I am still sort of able to co-ordinate though, and so if you teach me a dance, I can usually manage it. But there are just some moves my body can’t do. I’ve had to accept that… which is frustrating for my dancing daughter who finds it all ‘so easy’. I think she sometimes forgets I am not 16 anymore 😛
But even as I am getting older, I have found that in moments of severe stress, if a lively dance number (yes, ‘the kids of today’ have awful taste in lyrics, but there’s normally a great beat 😉 ) busting a move (without busting my back 😛 ) usually reduces that stress almost instantly 😉
The problem doesn’t go away, but after a couple of songs, I am definitely in a happier place and better able to tackle it.

Fresh air and sunshine can be tough when you don’t see the sun all that much. And I guess that with all the pollution in the air these days, ‘fresh’ air is a little less likely. But I think you know what I mean.
Here’s what I have found : when I am feeling severely stressed, sometimes ‘stepping away’, even just for a few minutes, can be very beneficial. Except that for me, I need to be aware of ‘where’ I am stepping to. Closing myself in my bedroom with the curtains drawn just brings on more negative emotions, and pretty much only serves to increase my stress levels.
So while some of us may like the idea of a good old door slam (I have a teenage daughter – just a tip real quick : she hasn’t slammed the door since the time I told her ‘next time you do that I am taking it off its hinges and you won’t have a bedroom door’- and showed her the screwdriver I have to prove that I could 😛 ) closing ourselves off completely, without sufficient air and light, can cause more problems than our initial intention of reducing our stress.

A few years ago, I watched an incredible short video, to motivate students in order to be able to ‘have the best for their future’. It was really fantastic, and there were plenty things in there that I found beneficial. But there was one part that had me shaking my head. He advocated for pulling all-nighters, claiming that ‘if you want it bad enough, you will sacrifice sleep for it’. My reply, in my head, was this : what’s the point of getting it if you won’t be able to enjoy it, or it ends up making you physically ill? Because THAT’S ME!
Extensive medical research shows that as adults, we should be getting 7 – 9 hours sleep a night. I wish this was possible, every night. Realistically, it isn’t. However….
Something I AM VERY disciplined on is my bedtime (much to most people’s horror 😛 ) … and ensuring that I get at least 7 hours sleep a night.
I know myself, and I do not respond well to ‘lack of sleep’. Not. At. All.
But I also know many people, personally, who manage to function quite successfully on just 4 hours a night.
We need to make sure that we get enough sleep – the amount that is right for US – and make a conscious effort to make it happen! Because being well-rested definitely helps when stress comes along.
As does having moments when we unplug! Achieving the ‘unplugging for a day’ thing is really difficult in today’s world. But it also depends on your definition of ‘unplugging’. For me? It means this :
Not ignoring messages, but responding with something like, ”Can we talk tomorrow, please? I just really need today to focus on some other things. I’m fine, promise! I’ll message you in the morning.”
Staying off social media – and if there is something I really need to look up, then that is all I will go and do. Even though there is a lot of inspirational and motivational encouragement that awaits me there, it is too easy to get caught up in all the ‘other stuff’, and so I choose to just try and avoid it completely.
Choosing what I do with my time on that day – there are some commitments and responsibilities that cannot be adjusted, and so I have to fulfill those obligations. But for the rest of the time? Do my soul and mind need extra attention? Then I’ll read something to feed them good things, and help them grow. Am I feeling like I am on a soul/mind overload? Well then, mindless whatever on Netflix will do.
Getting enough sleep and unplugging are both doable – you just need to find what works for you, and the ways to make it happen.

What makes you amazing? When stress rears its ugly head, I find that one of the first things I feel is ‘out of control’. This could be because it usually happens when I actually am – when something has happened, and I have no control over it. When I am in a situation where I want to be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem, but in order for that to happen, the other person (or the situation) needs to take part and be involved in some way (or change).
And one of my stress responses is to ‘feel failure‘, and pretty much ‘run myself down’- begin to feel inadequate and unworthy and incapable.
It really helps me to ‘take a moment’. (And if there is a mirror nearby, I use it. And my kids will be heard saying, ”Mom’s talking to herself again”! 😛 )
Many times, I am NOT feeling it. But I do it, and say it, anyway. Three things. Just three things about me that are ‘good’. Not necessarily applicable to the situation – but three positive qualities, nevertheless.
To be honest, some days it’s so difficult that by the time I have named them, the stressful situation has actually been forgotten 😛
Again, this little thing that I do doesn’t change the situation – whatever is ‘stressing me out’ doesn’t magically disappear. But it does serve to remind me that I still have worth – I still have strength and positive attributes – yes, this will slow me down, but I’m still okay. I have to say that this one is my absolute favourite – it has benefitted me the last few years in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.
I’ll say it again – I don’t always FEEL it when I say it. And it is VERY far from easy, especially when I am stressed. But the more I have been doing it, and saying it, the more I am reaping the benefits of it 😉

There are other techniques I have discovered over the years that also help me. But these are by far my top four. So, in short :

And just for fun, I’ll share a little statement I saw on Facebook recently, which made me laugh out loud.

”Don’t forget to drink water and get sun. You’re basically a house plant, with complicated emotions.” 😛

Making Other Plans

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… ”Life sometimes happens when we are busy making other plans”.

The original quote came from John Lennon, apparently. (There has been some speculation, and according to the Yale book of quotations, the origin is attributed to writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders.)

Whoever said it, whoever came up with it? There’s truth to it!

We all know that sometimes ‘life’ just happens. And let’s face it, in an ideal world it would happen the way we wanted it to… but we all know that at present our world is less than ideal. I have many moments (some good and some bad) where I find myself stopping to catch my breath, and thinking, ”Wait! What just happened?”

These days, it’s just too easy to ‘get busy and run out of time’. So many occurrences that dim the light of our passions.
Suddenly we notice that yet another week has passed us by, and in reflecting on it we suddenly become aware of the little things : there wasn’t a moment where I experienced a good old belly chuckle; that great thing happened on Tuesday, but I was so worried about the meeting on Wednesday that I didn’t actually take time to appreciate it; my days were so full of ‘being busy’ that I didn’t stop to breathe, and just be ‘me’. And the list goes on and on.

It’s a never ending ‘cycle of life’ for many of us, right?

In a world where bravery and strength only seems to be acknowledged when you’re doing it ‘out loud’, perhaps we should try and pause for a moment, and reflect inwardly, and try and remember that the bravery and strength that lies within our hearts is far more important than the ones that get ‘shouted about’.

There is power in holding joy in your heart
There is power in practicing restraint.
There is power in giving to others – not only in not expecting to get it back, but also in not needing to advertise it.
There is power in being kind – especially to those who ‘don’t deserve it’.

And the bravery and strength within your heart – if your heart is true and you allow these things to consume it (take time to reflect on THEM and educate yourself/absorb your heart and mind in THESE things) – will give you that power…

To ‘do’ life… when it happens…

To learn to live with grace, for yourself, and especially for others!

And to experience a joy that not many people can actually understand!

Please be good to yourselves this week – and to your hearts! Because you are worth it! ❤

Where are you, Meg?

I am not sure who it was exactly who said it originally, but there is a very well known saying (slightly abbreviated from the original version) :

”Time waits for no man.”

And in case there is any confusion : sorry ladies, it doesn’t wait for us either 😛

The last couple of weeks saw me reaching a whole new level of being busy, because as I have mentioned before, life happens even when we are busy making other plans. 😛 Circumstances out of my control meant that a lot of things happened at once, and I had no choice BUT to give them my immediate attention – trying my best to juggle a multitude of balls, and yes… I definitely dropped one or two. But I made it through the chaos, and that matters.

There were some friends who I remained in contact with during this period, although not as much as I would have liked to. I was honest with them about the demands on my time, and shared a bit of the ‘busy’ side of things. But I only shared what I guess would be considered the ‘physically’ busy side of things. ”Driving from here to there for ‘x’, meetings and endless phone calls to sort out ‘y’, etc.”

I have one particular friend with whom I am in very close contact – as in ‘every day conversation’ via messaging. I started to share the emotional side, I guess you could call it, that was absorbing my ‘other time/free time’ that I get given every day, and unfortunately it opened a door that caused me a lot of hurt and pain.

But it reminded me yet again that I have been shaped and molded the way I am for a reason.
That we are all DIFFERENT and that it is okay. And that my acceptance of that is not a weakness, despite who may think it is, but ultimately a strength.
That the ability to still see immense value in others just because they approach things differently and do what works for them is also a strength.
That still being able to love them with all my heart and treat them with kindness when they are adamant I am completely wrong and need to change my views, is strength.
That choosing to still treat those who have hurt me so very deeply, and tried to pretty much destroy the good in me, with compassion and respect is also A STRENGTH. And trust me, the fact that there is still a small spark of a love that I cannot explain for them absolutely astounds me.

Regarding that last statement in the paragraph above – a lot of people criticise me for it, and provide a host of reasons for it that link back to abuse. And while I can see the validity in what they are saying, and appreciate that abuse does shape certain things in us and spark reactions that are not natural, my ultimate reason for MY conclusion and my feelings is one that defies comprehension for many (including me sometimes) and is also one that is a PERSONAL thing and not something I can tell you how to do or even begin to properly explain.
My ultimate reason is this : part of this very painful emotional journey from the last couple of weeks has been the realisation :

I have needed mercy SO MANY times in my life, especially in times where I have hurt others in so many ways – even if my lashing out was deserved by them. What right do I have to not show it to others, even those who have done nothing other than to try and destroy me?
If I am willing, and live my life, being kind and loving to strangers who will not always return the same to me, then how can I not be willing to also extend mercy?

There IS a pill that I am struggling to swallow though – something I really struggle to understand. But there is a Voice that whispers to me that I don’t NEED to understand EVERYTHING. I try very hard not to argue. But man, oh man, it’s tough! I don’t fully understand why, when we all want respect and want people to accept that we have our OWN views and opinions, we fight so hard to force others to think exactly how we do… to a level that we disrespect their own views and opinions and choices.
I KNOW it’s a human condition, and something I have been guilty of in my younger years… but it still frustrates me trying to understand the why. , because I can’t even tell you why I used to do it 😛 I really HAVE to just ‘let it go’.

I am hoping that somehow, some way, something in the above has been of help to someone. I don’t expect anyone to take anything ‘away’ from it though, simply because it is MY views and opinions, the choice I have made when it comes to living my life, and you may not agree. And guess what, I am okay with that. You still have value in this world. It’s not up to me to try and change you… it’s up to me to change ME, and just keep loving YOU for who you are.

I DO want a to share an image with you in closing though. Something I have had to remind MYSELF of EVERY DAY for the last two weeks, more than once a day….

Sending love to each and every one of you ❤ Here’s hoping you all get to experience LOTS of wonderful things this week.

HUGS

Some days I feel small. (I know, I AM short, so that probably makes sense 😛 )

I feel unseen. Unnoticed, if you will. Like nothing I do matters. As if I don’t matter.

But even on those days, I still try. I still show up. I am still me.
(Even the times I am an exhausted pigeon with an injured wing 😛 )

On those days, I may not try as much as I should… and I don’t get around to doing all the things I want to.
But I still show up.
And even if I can only show up for my kids, it matters.

Despite the circumstances – and I don’t just mean the pandemic – I can’t seem to stop myself.

I can’t stop loving, and giving, and hoping. I still see the good… and I still see a bright future. (Most of the time. I can’t lie to you – it’s not ALL the time.)

I get criticized for it a lot. And the handful of those who love me will tease me about it.

”You’re too soft. You need to be harder. You shouldn’t be so tolerant. You should pick up your sword and fight like a warrior woman.”

This morning I smiled when I realised that gone are the days of old – the ones where I was angry, with a hint of bitterness; the ones where I was too cynical and less tolerant. That those were the days where I would brandish my sword.
But guess what?

I realised this morning that I actually have two swords! They are my arms! And I use them for hugging!!!!
I am still a warrior… of good.
And there’s nothing like a good hug 😉 (except maybe a giant cup of coffee which is a hug for my soul first thing in the morning 😉 )

This pandemic has prevented me from using my weapons of choice.
I still have my other sword somewhere, I am sure. But I don’t really have the desire to use it anymore.

SO… I will use my weapons… in my mind…

You’re all getting a giant hug right about now 😉

A bit of a nothingness post… but feel free to pass on the hug I just gave you.
Who was on your mind as you read that? Check in with them, send them an encouraging message, or a funny joke… and don’t forgot to add in that you are hugging them in your mind 😉

Let’s keep trying to make this world a better place ❤

Tired Talk

Most of my day yesterday was consumed with ‘dementia talk’. Six phone calls – three of which lasted only five minutes. The other three were each almost an hour. It was mentally and emotionally draining.
There are also committee issues within the housing complex where I live, and so the interruptions because of that were also rather stressful. (I am not on the committee, but am starting to feel like they should just get it over with and appoint me 😛 except I don’t want to be on the committee! 😛 )

By 20:00, my brain felt like it was shutting down. I was tired. Just. so. darn. tired.

And so I just stopped.

I sat down on the edge of my bed, closed my eyes, and did nothing but breathe. In for five seconds, hold it for five seconds, out for five seconds. I stopped after about ten because it made me lightheaded 😛
But because I was so busy counting in my head, nothing else was boggling my brain.
I felt a bit calmer when I was done. And all the noise in my head had also quieted to a point that I was able to calmly process all that had happened during the day.

I weeded out the unnecessary, and focused on the parts that actually mattered.
I was then able to determine which things I could actually do something about, and which things I had no control over.
It’s taken me years of practice, but I am definitely a lot better these days at being able to accept that when it comes to the things I can’t control, I need to let them go. And by letting them go I mean this : they’re still there, in my mind and who knows what they’re doing subconsciously….
But consciously? I know I cannot change them. I have accepted that. I need to shift my focus and move away from them.
It’s not always easy… but to keep trying to fix things that I have no control over? Well, it just makes me miserable and frustrated, and I don’t like feeling that way.
Doing all that left me with only two things that need to be attended to today.

The rest of today will probably look something like this … 😉

I need to consciously make this an EVERY DAY thing…

And perhaps one day I’ll get them ALL right 😉

Here’s hoping you are able to strive for the above too. Here’s hoping you all have a great day! And don’t forget to breathe! 😉

flighty feelings

While my attitude always seems to lean towards positivity, my emotions do not. What I mean is that in any given day, I can experience moments across the entire spectrum of emotion – sadness, anger, guilt, happiness, hope, love, fear etc. Every. Day. There are moments. Some are very short lived – appropriate to just that moment. Some last a little longer.

Somebody commented a few months ago, when I shared the above with them, that there must be something wrong with me – an ’emotional ticking time bomb’ who is on a permanent emotional roller coaster. I considered what they said, decided there may be some truth to it, and added it to my ‘personal challenges list’- things I need to look into ‘fixing’ and changing. The list is now an A4 page, and I am not even halfway with crossing things off… so it might be a while before I address the comment they made 😛

BUT… (yes, there is always a but… 😛 )

I happened upon an article this morning that reminded me of the notation on the bottom of the personal list that I am working my through. And it made me smile.

Now according to this article, which is apparently evidence based and well researched, I am actually psychologically sound (for the most part 😛 ) because of this tendency to feel all these different emotions. Wait, what?!?!?!

And as I continued reading my smile got bigger and didn’t leave my face, and now my cheeks hurt 😛

Have you ever experienced a moment in time where something makes you ‘self assess’, and suddenly you realise that in that particular thing, your progress is very noticeable? Doesn’t it feel good? To be able to recognise an ‘error in your ways’ from your past/younger self, and get a full grasp on the way you have changed? FOR THE BETTER?

For me? It is one of the most amazing FEELINGS in the world, that is backed by evidence, bringing a very loud and affirmative fist bump in the air ‘YES!’ 😉

Years ago, I got lost in my emotions. Half the time, I didn’t even know where they were coming from. For example, I’d wake up in the morning feeling angry – angry at myself, life, the world. And so that is how the rest of my day went. I never reflected on why I was feeling that way. I didn’t bother to try and change how I was feeling. And my actions and reactions for the rest of the day came from that place of anger.

Part of my personal growth journey has been to ‘get a handle on my emotions’. Not to harden my heart and not feel them, but to be more aware of them and WHY I am feeling them…. and to NOT base actions and reactions on the emotions themselves.

Trying to control emotions is actually futile – we are created to be beings that feel and so whether or not we want them, emotions are here to stay. But, for want of a better word (because some may be uncomfortable with this one) we could learn how to channel them. Like maybe letting our excitement about something motivate us, or allowing our guilt to spark change.

When it comes to attitude, we often see the word choice. Choosing to change a bad attitude, or the way we see things, for the better. In fact CHOICE pretty much sums up everything in life, right?
And for me personally? I have come to realise that it applies to my emotions as well.
I allow myself to feel them – but I also choose to not allow them to control my whole day. I pause for thought, try to determine what has triggered them, and find a way to use them to benefit a healthier me!

I don’t always get it right. I’m still working on identifying all my emotions, trying to understand them fully, managing them correctly and using them appropriately… but I am definitely MUCH closer to it than what I was a few years ago.

Hence the sore cheeks 😛

And who knows, perhaps some day I will graduate to ’emotional ninja’ status 😉