1) Breath in the fresh air… I’m not talking about just stepping outside and going, "ok I took some breaths!" and then running back inside to do your job or project. I’m talking about going out for a short or long walk, I take my dog every day, and really taking time to breath and look at nature. Really breath deeply. Maybe find a beautiful spot and stop there. Take in 5-10 really long deep breaths. Look at the beauty around you the green grass or the blue sky…Even here in New England when its cold and grey, I look at the bare trees all dancing together in the wind and I reflect on how strong they are for living through the hard winter months. To me no matter how ugly or crazy the world gets nature is always peaceful and grounding and oxygen is always my drug of choice.
2) Find a few hours, one day a week and dedicate it as time for yourself. I can not stress how important it is to have something of your very own! Many people are lucky to have time to themselves once a day and if you can make time that often then great! But lets face it, many people have full time jobs and full time families and that eats up a lot of time. So, personally, I demand 2 hours a week minimum just for me. One thing I do during this time is Kripalu Yoga. For an hour each week I go to my yoga mat and let the world around me go by while I concentrate on me and positive energy. Some people may feel this is selfish but I feel this is self preservation and loving yourself. Allowing yourself to enjoy time alone is not selfish its imperative to ones mental health! A few other great things to try for time alone are…. a hot bath with candles and oils, an hour locked away with a good book, a hot cup of tea with your favorite magazine on the porch (that's one of my personal favorite quiet moments), a massage, a pedicure, a round of golf or maybe just a long walk alone. This time alone helps you unwind and its a time to be quiet and indulge in your self worth in a positive manner. (Picture from Pinterest)
3) Make time for healthy social behavior. I don't mean make time to go out to the bar lol.. I mean make time to go out to dinner with your two oldest friends or volunteer for an organization you respect and make new friends! Make a date night at least once a month with your spouse (whether you have kids or not!) and get out of the house! Even if its just a walk the beach together. Having healthy relationships is really important. We are social creatures by nature and Facebook and Instagram are not the “healthy” social behavior I’m talking about. Sometimes you can't avoid having to use technology to maintain a friendship but its possible to do it in a healthy manner. I unfortunately live very far from many of my closest friends but we make Skype dates and phone dates and make sure our schedule is cleared for a chunk of time, so we can really focus on what the other is saying. I also make sure when I move to a new area to make friends….this seems to get harder as we get older but the best way to make friends never changes…. be yourself and be outgoing. If you meet a lady a book club and she seems nice then next month get her number and see if she wants to go out for coffee or invite her and her husband over for dinner. I find when your older making friends is very similar to dating. You have to take a risk and see if your personalities really mesh. But friendships both with other couples (if your in a relationship) and with individuals is really important. Being around others that are going through what your going through or introduce you to new topics of conversations, stimulates your brain to think and converse which is far more important than we think. Often when I’m super busy and stressed I find that a few hours with some girlfriends, and usually a bottle of wine lol, is the perfect de-stressor! Or when my husband and I are both feeling overwhelmed by work and just life in general, we often host a BBQ with friends. We ask everyone to bring a dish to cut down on the prep and stress of hosting and we start early in the day so we can play yard games like Quates or Corn hole. That little bit of social time with our peers goes a long, long way! (us *on the right* out to dinner while on vacation with two of our closest friends!)
When life gets moving too fast and stress starts to rise I really try to go back to these basic concepts, that I have just shared, and check in with myself to see if I need to do one or all of them. I ask "Am I really breathing in life and positive energy? Am I making time for me? How are my relationships and social activity levels? And lastly how are my eating habits is my body being properly fueled?" Usually I find when I am feeling stressed that at least one or more of these areas of my life is off balance. Once I adjust and make the changes necessary, my stress level usually drops off and I find that I’m happier and to be honest, healthier!
Happy Healthy Me = Happy Healthy Hubby = Happy Healthy Marriage = Stress free life filled with beautiful quiet moments.
I hope this post has helped many of you check in with yourself and think about how you handle stress. Maybe I've given you some good ideas of how to handle stress, if you don't have your own methods already. Or maybe you want to try new methods. Either way I hope it encourages some of you to continue on with a positive attitude through these last few weeks of a long cold winter. Happy Hump Day everyone, stay positive!