Your life is a whirlwind.
The world all around you is busy, busy, busy. It is filled with stress-creating situations.
Consider all of the areas of your life that demand your attention?
- Your job, your relationships, and the care of your home.
- The management of your finances, fitting in workouts, and planning healthy meals.
- Dealing with the moments of unhealthy eating and the disappointments that accompany them.
- Trying to find time to nurture friendships and show your friends you really do care about them.
- Running your kids here, there and everywhere, doing laundry, researching vacation ideas, handling repairs…and I am just getting started here.
If you fall into the comparison trap, your stress is further compounded. Everyone around you looks as if they have these things under control.
You’re quite certain you are the only one who is struggling to keep all of the balls in the air.
You are the only one whose house is disorganized, whose paint is looking tired in the living room, and who can’t seem to stick to a workout schedule.
You’re the only one who isn’t getting along with your children the way you’d like, who doesn’t have a lick of time for girlfriends, and who doesn’t have the time for self-care.
I assure you, you’re not alone.
I think I can help. For a couple of reasons.
I have juggled a gazillion things over the years. I had a twenty-year stint as a single-mom, business owner, busy professional. In fact, with the kids out in the world at this stage of life, I look back and do not know how I got through those years.
Maybe you’re in the midst of it right now.
Perhaps you collapse into bed each night, exhausted.
And you feel stress and even anxiety during much of your day.
You can take control of these. Below are five ways to manage your stress, particularly if you can’t stop the whirlwind around you.
Five ways to manage your stress:
1. Take some time for yourself, especially when you think you think you can’t! There are 1440 minutes in every day. Let’s say you sleep for 420 of them and work for 540 of them. That leaves you with 480 additional minutes to work with. Some of those minutes have to be for you.
You can start small.
About a year ago, I started waking up at 5:00 am. The first two hours of the day are completely mine. I work out, write, drink tea, and get my day organized. It has disciplined me to get to bed early. I really do believe in early to bed, early to rise.
2. Briefly write down your fears, doubts and thoughts. Thoughts only have to be organized to disappear or at least be reduced. If your thoughts swirl around in your head, creating stress, anxiety and maybe even some feelings of doom, you are a perfect candidate for journaling.
When I was going through my divorce, I had so many fears and doubts in my mind. “What have I done?” “How will I ever be secure again?” “I’ve ruined my kids’ lives.” This is just the beginning.
I started to write in a journal. One of my first pages had a heading, “What am I afraid of?” I wrote every single fear and doubt on a long list. My next heading was “How can I make this better?”
Having the list was calming. It shifted my situation from being a victim of my life to becoming an owner of my life.
3. Every now and then, go back in time, and think through your former thoughts. You will likely realize that most of the things you worried about in the past– however immense they seemed – didn’t come to fruition.
In fact, if you think about your own years of worrying, how many of the things you worried about happened? Probably not many.
- I won’t have enough money. And you’ve always been able to get by.
- I will never meet someone. Then you do.
- I will always be sad. And, one day you’re happy again.
- My daughter and I will never get along. Then, one day she becomes your best friend.
4. Listen to your body. It can tell you a lot about yourself. However, in our busiest times, a lot of us have to make a commitment to listen. Throughout your day, pause and think about how you feel.
- Do you need sleep?
- Do you need water?
- Do you need movement?
Do not allow yourself to live in a chronic state of fatigue. Aim for seven hours of sleep. I have always worked backwards. What time do I need to wake up? I calculate my seven hours and make sure I’m in bed at the right time. With my new commitment to wake up at 5:00 am, seven days a week, 10:00 pm is time to go to sleep. If I’m out later, then I sleep later.
Put a glass of water on your night stand, and drink it before you get out of bed.
Five or ten minutes of stretching and moving is beneficial. Fit this into your day several times.
Do not let your physical health be an after-thought. Taking care of the health of your body is too important.
5. Expect less of yourself. This is significant. I see many women being so hard on themselves.
I may also be confusing you. I will always tell you to expect more of yourself, to not settle for a mediocre life. Make sure you’re living a big life, with goals and dreams and a solid sense of your purpose.
On a daily basis, however, do not beat yourself up. If you go home from work with a bunch of things still on your to-do list, or if you didn’t get the laundry folded at home…llow yourself to be less than perfect. Give yourself some breaks during the day.
You cannot see everything in the world. You cannot complete your mondo to-do list in a given day. Be realistic with yourself.
Where do you see opportunities to better manage your stress?
You may not be able to change the overwhelmedness of your life. You may not want to, actually. Living a full and intentional life can be a positive thing.
You can, however, manage your response to all of the tugging and pulling. Whether you remain calm or show your stress, your situation is what it is.
If you’d like to contribute your thoughts to my research, you can find my happiness and fulfillment survey at aletanorris.com/tribe.