Well, here we are. Mid-summer. The Solstice has just passed, the longest days are here, and they’ve been the hottest for many of us. Summer is a busy time, but it’s supposed to be. It’s the season of action, the crops and gardens (and lawns) are growing rapidly, and so should we be. Winter is the time for rest and reflection. Summer is go, go, go!
I’ve been doing that and will continue to straight through the fall. And even then, feeling like I can’t possibly get it all done. There’s just so much! When I dwell for more than a minute on the endless list of things I should be doing, things I need to get done, and on how little time there is to do them, I start feeling stressed. I’m lucky in a way, because my body tells me the minute I start letting stress creep in. My heart begins to beat out of synch. It hips and hops a little, flips and flutters a little. And if I don’t change my train of thought soon, I know, from past experience that it will soon burst into a full blown tachycardia episode and land me in the nearest ER. The older I get the more I learn my triggers. Alcohol, Caffeine, Stress. They’re the big three. So I avoid them all. But while you can pretty easily eliminate the first two from your life, the third is much harder.
It has been quite a revelation to me to actually be able to feel the physical result of stress on my body. In a way, having this very minor condition has been kind of a blessing, because it’s really opened my eyes to how powerful a kick a single cup of regular coffee, or rushing around in heavy traffic while running late, truly has. It’s a revelation. When you can honestly feel the impact of stress, instantly, in your body, you realize just how harmful it is. It stops being an abstract concept, and becomes a very clear fact. Stress is harmful. And sneaky, too. Having this physical reaction has shown me that I’m under stress at times when I don’t even realize it. I thought I was pretty zen. Surprise! Not so much.
Zen needs nurturing. Relaxation takes practice.
Here are some things I’ve been putting into practice that seem to help.
*Daily meditation. The busier the day, the more important it is to fit it in. My brain is too noisy to meditate without a little help so I use some favorite recordings to help out. Jerry and Esther Hicks have a guided meditation CD that comes with their book, Getting Into the Vortex that’s amazing for me. There are countless others. Find what works for you.
*A Mellow Playlist. I created a playlist on my iPhone and iPod called “Mellow” and I fill it with relaxing music that always makes me feel peaceful. When stress starts to sneak in, I hit that button and get back my zen. Especially helpful in traffic. The worst the traffic, the more I need it. Enya, James Taylor, just mellow.
*Soothing Self-Talk. Certain phrases that I practice often enough so that they come to mind easily and just when I need them. I grab onto them like a piece of driftwood in a stormy sea, and they gently float me to above the waves. Here are a few of my favorites:
I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
The Universe wants me right here, right now. Why fight it?
I’ll get there when I get there.
It’ll get done when it gets done.
It’s not the end of the world.
Everything is unfolding exactly as it should.
*Exercise. I’ve discovered that days when I exercise are less stressful than days when I don’t. A vigorous workout is a way to direct the stress energy into something productive, and then be rid of it. You just work it off.
*Prioritize and then Focus. Make a list of things to do, and then put them in order, not of what should be done first, or what’s “most important” or what deadline is nearest, but rather, which one is bothering you most. Which one is keeping you up at night, on your mind most frequently, in other words, causing you the most stress. Do that thing first. Then pick the next most worriesome, bothersome item, and do that. Also, make your to do list spread out over a week, or even two weeks instead of for a single day. We tend to make these big lists that even SuperWoman couldn’t do in a day, and then feel bad when we don’t do the impossible. One big task, and then a few small ones, and in between each of them, insert time to do something for yourself, something nice, healthy, positive, dare I say FUN?
Because life is too short to do otherwise, you know. We’re here to have fun after all. And keep the to do lists short, realistic. Spread those tasks out far, so you finish the few on your list and feel successful at the end of each day.
*Set and Stick to Quitting Time This is key, and hard for us busy types. But it’s also very soothing to have something to tell you firmly when to quit for the day. Especially when you work at home. So pick a reasonable time, maybe say something like, no working after dinner, to give yourself time to be sane, to have a life, to relax. And likewise, take days off every single week, no matter what.
So those are my tips for de-stressing your life. I hope you can use them.
Before I go I have to remind you all that there’s only a week left in the Blissful Secrets Contest. You can win a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet at June’s end. Authors Teresa Medeiros, Shelly Thacker, Susan Mallery, Jane Porter have teamed up with me for this contest, and you can enter at any of our Facebook Pages or just begin here at mine and click the contest tab! See you there!