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 πŸ˜‰
And if you’ve never tried them, then it might be worth doing so πŸ˜‰
It works the same as it does with my kids πŸ˜› I always say : ”Don’t tell me you can’t do it, or don’t like it, if you’ve never tried it.” πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜›
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 πŸ˜›
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 πŸ˜‰ ) busting a move (without busting my back πŸ˜› ) usually reduces that stress almost instantly πŸ˜‰
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 πŸ˜› ) 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 πŸ˜› ) … 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”! πŸ˜› )
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 πŸ˜›
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 πŸ˜‰

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.” πŸ˜›

Pressure to Perform

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This happens to me pretty much every morning. Most of my days are usually quite productive though, but I never seem to get through ALL I would like to accomplish on any particular day. Some say that this is because I set ridiculous expectations of myself when it comes to ‘things I need to do’. I like to say that when it comes to what I do each day, I like to makeΒ every day aΒ Norman Vincent Peale day!Β Every morning, with my first big, beautiful cup of coffee, I think about what I’d like to achieve. And although I accept the realities, I still list those many tasks. I shoot for the moon, and then every night I smile contentedly because I know I have at least landed among the stars! (Yes, my house has a roof and no, I don’t live in the sky πŸ˜› )

Admittedly, a lot of these beautiful early morning coffee goals for the day end with me feeling something like this :

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This is partly because of all the running I do. No, not running as in exercise. I don’t run. I don’t even jog. So if you ever see me running, you should run too, because that means something is chasing me.

(I don’t know who originally came up with that quote, but according to the hyperlink it was Kristen Proby. It seems it was used in her book, and the name of the character who said it? Meg! Although that Meg is described as a sexy rocker chick πŸ˜› but having the same name still makes it mighty coincidental πŸ˜‰ )

By running, I actually mean driving around in my car for what I count as too many hours in my day, playing Mom’s Taxi. There’s the school run, and then there’s the extra curricular activities run. During the extra run, I usually end up hanging around in my car for a couple of hours. I live about 20 minutes away from where her activity takes place, but fuel (like everything else) is very expensive, and I don’t see the sense of driving back and forth in such a small time frame. My daughter is a dancer – she has been chosen three years in a row now to represent our country at World Champs. So I guess I’m a dance mom (just nothing like what you see onΒ that show!) The joke in our studio is that we all ‘live in our cars’.
(We have a non-existent public transport system, and the little of it that exists is far too dangerous to even consider.)
So from the list, I usually select things that I can do from the discomfort of my car.

The reason I am telling you all of this (other than the fact that these were a collection of Facebook pictures I had liked and saved, and discovered and was amused at how they all kind of fit together?)…..

These days there seems to be a lot of pressure to perform. Whether it’s as complex as achieving some greatness and stature in our careers, or as simple as being a ‘better, closer to perfect’ parent, the stresses that come from this overwhelming pressure can be detrimental to our health.
The sad thing is that it is not only society or other individuals that put this pressure on us. We have a tendency to do it all by ourselves, to ourselves.
We push ourselves into overachiever mode, in an attempt to do more and be more. For me personally, this is related to the fact that I am often told I can’t, I won’t, I don’t.
And so there is this itch inside me that often causes an ‘overdrive’ scratch…. the results are usually less than desirable, and I wind up in a place that is nowhere near the achievement goal I had set out for myself.
I don’t go into overdrive as often as I used to, thank goodness.

I have learnt that my brain has limitations and that sleep is necessary. I canΒ never be effective if I am dead on my feet.
I have learnt that it is sometimes necessary to take a step back when I am feeling stressed. To breathe deeply and think carefully. And use the energy that stress can create in a positive way – controlling the stress instead of allowing it to control me.
I have learnt that having a to-do list and planning ahead in certain circumstances does not make me a nerd, or detract from my spontaneity. Instead it prepares me and creates a better environment in which to perform.
I have learnt that sometimes acknowledging the small wins can open doors to greater things.
My biggest obstacle, I know, is to ask for help. When there is pressure to perform, the best thing you can do for yourself, is to ask for help (even if it’s just with menial tasks). For some silly reason (perhaps because I have always been the carer and helper, and it feels weird to ‘have the shoe on the other foot’) I struggle to reach out and ask others for any form of help. I really need to work on that!

I always end my night like this though, no matter how the day behind me unfolded….

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Are there any of these that you struggle with?