If your life is anything like mine, your stress levels have the tendency to sky rocket due to the demands of being an adult. Work. Community Involvement. Dinners. Appointments. Being a good dog mom. Running Errands. Cleaning. Did I mention work? The list goes on an on.
So how can you manage your stress levels while juggling a schedule that seemingly leaves little time to recharge?
I’ve found 10 ways that help keep me balanced and relaxed, all while accomplishing the never-ending need of “adulting”. Some of these ideas may help you find that balance as well.
1. Make an appointment with yourself.
Sounds silly, right? Wrong. If you consistently over-commit your schedule, you’re leaving little time to recharge. My rule of thumb is carving out 1 hour a day with absolutely nothing on the schedule. A little “me time” goes a long way, not only with yourself, but for others in your life. My free hour almost always includes reading or watching something that relaxes my mind. Sometimes I will tidy up the house, not in super woman mode, but just picking up; helping keep my home calm and inviting. Never underestimate the power of a clean space.
2. Eat healthy.
What you put into your body makes all the difference in the world. A nutritionist once told me, “Think of food as the mechanism to how you power your body and maintain brain power.” Sure, cheese and mini M&Ms make the cut some days, but being self-aware of what your body needs, not what tastes the best, will ultimately give you the energy you need to power through your busy day. You will feel like an entirely new person if you commit to a well balanced diet.
3. Work out.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time to work out.” Yes you do. Find the time. I’ll never claim to being addicted to working out, but it plays a key role in decreasing my stress levels and boosting my mood. Find the best time of day that works for YOU. I rarely work out in the morning. Ask my friends, they know I won’t join them for that 6:30 am work out class. They tease me about it, but it just doesn’t work for me. I love spending my mornings preparing for the day, knocking out important work items and drinking a cup of coffee while reading in the Word. My morning routine clears my mind and and keeps me grounded. Because of that, I work out right after work. I joined Studio Hop several months ago, and let me tell you…the cancellation policy keeps me accountable regardless of my desire to skip the gym.
4. Turn off social media and the T.V.
We seem to be wired to aimlessly look at social media, mostly out of habit. Put your phone in the other room when you’re having your “me time” or trying to focus on other activities that don’t require your phone. If you have friends over, GET OFF YOUR PHONE. If you’re reading a book or taking a bath, that’s a great time to charge it in your room. Cleaning? Listen to music. Taking a walk? Put your phone on airplane mode or in your pocket. I’m forced to do this because the chances of dropping it while walking two dogs is 50/50. The more time you can break away from electronics, the better.
Sometimes I find myself wasting valuable time on the weekends watching TV because I’m feeling lazy. Just like reading, I get sucked in and then feel more stressed because I didn’t accomplish anything productive or have fun during my day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in the occasional veg out session, but making a habit out of it is dangerous.
5. Have a good laugh, daily.
Who doesn’t like laughing until it hurts a little? Invite friends over with no extravagant agenda and just be silly together. Play a game. Catch Phrase? Yes, please. Spending time with people you adore is the ultimate key to increased happiness; a reminder that life filled with joyful friends & family is more important than almost anything. And let’s face it, getting the giggles tops the list too.
There are a million ways to have a good laugh on a daily basis. It doesn’t take much if you become aware of how silly your day can be. Talk with strangers, listen to a podcast, watch Ellen (she will always make you laugh). Be silly with your pets or dance around your house like a fool. All of these work for me.
6. Know when to say yes & when to say no.
I’ve talked before about not becoming a slave to people-pleasing, specifically when it’s destructive or you’re exhausted. Keep this is mind when you’re feeling overworked, anxious, or stressed. Take a look at how you’re spending your time. If you’re suffering from a severe case of FOMO, it may be time to re-examine why you’re always saying yes to everything and everyone. Is it because you truly have the desire to go to every happy hour and social extravaganza, or are you failing to prioritize your time in a healthy, balanced way?
I made a list the other night. It ranked how I want to spend my free time and then how much I actually spent doing those activities. I won’t tell you how pathetic it compared, but I will tell you…I lack serious discipline in certain areas. I wrote that I wanted to spend more time giving back to the community. As of lately, that’s a big fat zero. I also put that I wanted to write more. You can judge how well I’ve been accomplishing that. Another big one on my list was growing my faith. I realized I have been spending more time focused on my career, working out and hanging out with my friends (and my gosh, if Netflix was a friend, well..you get the idea) than I have been focusing on what I feel is my purpose here; God. I sometimes think God would be dragging me by the hair if He was that kind of God.
7. Get in a good routine.
Want to get the most out of your day, but not feel beat down by the end of it? Figure out a routine that aligns with the priorities you’ve made. Be productive at work and then find that balance after.
Get some sleep. And if you can, try to hit the sack around the same time every night.
I read an article in TIME that talks a lot about going to bed before midnight. Essentially, it points to the fact that best quality of REM cycle sleep occurs earlier in the evening. Check out the article I linked, because I need to take that advice, not give it.
8. Discover what makes you happy and DO IT as often as possible.
I love riding my bike. Unfortunately, I can’t control the weather or always find the time because dogs don’t walk themselves and I feel guilty leaving them behind too often when I head to White Rock. With that being said, I found three excuses in one run on sentence about why I am not doing something that brings me child-like joy. Catch my drift? Good.
9. Find a hobby.
I’m still looking for mine. Crafting is still out. In full transparency, it will never make the cut. I like to write, send hand written cards, and shop for other people. I like to decorate my home. I also love researching historical events, almost in an obsessive manner. I’m not confident these are hobbies, but it’s what I’m currently working with. I’ve thought about learning to play an instrument, but the verdict’s still out. Check back in a month.
10. Don’t let things get to you.
You’re going to have good days and bad days. Sometimes it feels like the world is rooting for you, maybe even on your side. Other days, it pours on you. Probably the only day you spent time doing your hair.
People are going to let you down. Business deals are going to fall through. Traffic will make you late. Your dogs will throw up on your new rug or your best friend will spill a glass of red wine on your couch (kidding, AB – I only wrote that because you keep texting me about it, convinced I’m having a secret midlife crisis because it didn’t bother me. haha)
Point is; if you let every little thing weigh on you, you’re eventually going to drown in a thick sea of negativity, resentment and petty issues that don’t make a bit of difference in the grand scheme of things. Do the best you can and give people the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the same. The practice of loving imperfect people well, including yourself, will make you happier and more content than you could ever imagine.
photos by the talented, Melissa Fay Photography