The pressure! Work, the house, scheduling exercise, eating healthy, meal planning, writing a blog, social media posting, trying to squeeze in some fun and now that the weather is warmer, the outside maintenance around the house that is needed after a very cool and wet spring. Can you feel the stress? I know I sure do. Trying to do it all is not fun and can be very stressful at times.
I sometimes feel like if I can't accomplish everything on my to-do list, that I am letting someone down. Maybe it is my significant other because he may not have a healthy lunch or dinner that I meal prepped on the weekend. Maybe it is my followers who expect to have great content routinely. Maybe it is my neighbors because my front door really needs to be repainted and stripping off the old paint is going slower than I thought.
Why do we put this unnecessary stress on ourselves? Isn't life difficult enough without adding self-imposed stress on ourselves? Stress is so bad for us, as I am sure you know. It can cause illness, such as flu, colds and serious health issues like heart disease and high blood pressure. Stress can make you moody, interrupt your sleep, make you sad or irritable. (Source: NIMH) This is some serious stuff!
So what does it take to be OK with not completing your to-do list? How can I change my mind-set to let go and be satisfied even if I didn't get it all done? Here are some tips for both in the moment stress management as well as long term advice on how to manage not getting it all done.
RELIEVE IN THE MOMENT STRESS
1) Just Breathe. When I am stressing in the moment (over whatever: work project, writing a blog post, meal planning), I take a step away from what I am doing and I take a few deep breaths. In fact, Delicious Living recommends doing the following:
Inhale for four slow seconds (one Mississippi… two Mississippi…), hold for three seconds, and exhale for four seconds. Try to inhale and exhale so deeply that your belly expands out and in (sometimes called yogic breathing). Repeat twice more.
By doing this, you are activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers blood pressure, decreases the stress hormone cortisol and eases your “fight or flight” response. I always feel better after taking a few deep breathes.
2) Set Goals & Priorities. At the end of the day, does it really matter if I didn't get to do laundry today? Well, maybe if I need clean underwear for the upcoming week! But 9 times out of 10, it doesn't matter. When stress rears it's ugly head, look at your to-do list and figure out what really must get done and what can wait for another day.
3) Listen To Music. I work in an open environment without offices. That means when I am stressed, I have no place to hide! So I pop in my earbuds and listen to music. Turns out, listening to music can help you lower stress. Research shows that listening to music can lower blood pressure and anxiety (Source: WebMD). So create yourself a playlist or tune into your favorite Spotify channel. You'll reduce stress in no time!
LONG TERM STRESS MANAGEMENT
1) Exercise! While I mentioned above that sometimes scheduling workout routines adds stress to my life, over the long term routine exercising has helped me manage stress. I just feel better after working out. If it is hard for you to find time to get to the gym, try taking a walk everyday with a friend or colleague.
Why does walking help? It’s a stress-relief trifecta: Exercise, nature and laughter all relieve stress by triggering the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones, from your brain. Spending time outside, especially in a forested park or other green area instead of a city street, is linked to better blood pressure. (Source: Delicious Living)
2) Try Essential Oils. I used to think lavender was only useful to help me go to sleep. Research suggests that inhaling certain essential oils such as lavender can quell anxiety, possibly by igniting the smell receptors in your nose to send soothing signals to your brain. (Source: Delicious Living) You can either use a diffuser or try using an aromatherapy necklace.
3) Practice Yoga and/or Meditation. Why is this different than exercise when you can experience a wide range of physical benefits from yoga? Because yoga is more than physical. Sure, most people start practicing because of the physical benefits (me included!). But after you practice for a period of time, you realize the mental benefits of practicing yoga.
I'm not saying you have to convert your spiritual or religious beliefs and start following yoga philosophy. But there is something inherently calming about only caring for yourself for 30 minutes to 1 hour. You have to be in the moment to practice yoga. If your mind wanders, you won't be able to execute the poses. Also, it creates a better relationship with yourself that is nonjudgmental and allows you to develop a more balanced ego with nothing to prove or hide (Source: Yoga Journal).
Meditation is another method to help you turn inward and reduce stress. While most people think they have to spend hours meditating to get the benefits, turns out even 5 minutes will help calm your mind. The hardest part about meditation is being still and allowing the mind to go blank. Thoughts will come to you while meditating so you have to recognize them and then let them go.
Don't think you have to spend a ton of money on yoga or mediation classes. There are plenty of free practices on You Tube or on the internet. My favorite You Tube Yogi is Brett Larkin. She has short to long yoga practices and meditations, all for free! I find it really convenient to do her practices whenever I have a few minutes in my day.
I hope this blog post gives you a few ideas on how to relieve stress in your life both in the moment and for the longer term. Remember, your to-do list does not have to take over your life! If you try any of the above, let me know if it worked for you! I love hearing your feedback on the information I share. If you want to receive more healthy living tips, information and recipes for free, follow my blog on Bloglovin.