I originally planned on writing about eating healthy on a budget, which I’ll save for another day. But with my wedding being 9 days away, thinking about food shopping was a little difficult. So instead… I thought, “what better topic to write about than tips for dealing with stress!” Everyone experiences stress at their own levels; some people stress almost every second of every day, while others seem to not have a care in the world. I am usually a pretty stress-free (or close to it) kind of person, until recently. Planning a wedding in four months is no joke! Make that a low budget-DIY wedding, the weekend of Mother’s Day and graduations (including my fiance’s), my day job as a server and my photography clients, life is just a little bit busy. I’m sure everyone can relate, whether it’s with children, work, school, diets, etc. Besides a couple short breaking points, I think I’ve been doing pretty well… According to this stress meter, I believe at my very worst (about 2 or 3 meltdowns that lasted about 10 minutes long) I was at an “EEEEKKKK”. Even at my most stressful moments, I have been able to quickly snap out of it and recompose myself before complete control is lost, thanks to a few regular techniques I like to use.
1. Meditation- Most people think it is impossible to have 10 minutes a day to sit in silence, and allow your mind to clear. Most spiritual teachers would say, “You don’t have time not to meditate.” For those of you with little ones, I highly recommend this video of one of my role models, Marianne Williamson, explaining how to teach and practice meditation and mindfulness to children 5 and under.(42 minutes in). I also practice meditation as I go about my day by remembering to focus on my breath and being present wherever I am (simple and life changing). Besides alleviating stress, by meditating you are learning to control your thoughts rather than the other way around.
2. Step Outside and Be in Nature- After sitting at the computer or making decorations for hours, stepping outside for a few minutes is extremely restorative and rejuvenating. Just a little fresh air helps give my mind, eyes and body a break; allowing space for new thoughts and ideas to flow in. It’s also nice (and beneficial) to stand up after sitting for ever! This usually helps give a new perspective and refreshed patience for the task at hand.
3. Yoga/Exercise- Walking, jogging, lifting weights, Zumba, yoga…whatever works for you, is a great way to relieve stress! A combination of endorphin (a natural pain killer) being released and the ability to sleep better definitely decreases the stress meter. My personal favorite is yoga because while my body is stretching, I am regulating my breath and relaxing all at the same time! YouTube has tons of Yoga videos and is how I began my practice (I learned a lot from “Yoga with Adrienne”) There’s also an app called Meetup, where local people host anything from “Sunset Yoga” to “Mommy and Me Yoga”.
4. Focus on Good Things- I’ve recently learned that I have the choice to feel good, which to me is exhilarating. I love being aware that in each moment I have the ability to choose how I feel. However, in those moments where my mind is racing, worrying, stressing, repeating itself over and over…I eventually catch myself, take a deep breath, and focus on something that makes me feel good (whether in my surroundings or in my thoughts) and I can feel the energy shift within me.
5. Appreciation- It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of excitement in life events and often lose control. Stress comes from worry and feelings of lack. Appreciation comes from focusing on the Abundance in our lives and can be as simple as thanking the sun, the air and the water to your job, friends and family. You can say thank you for your blessings out loud, in your mind or keep a gratitude journal and list 10 things your thankful for every day. Instead of feeling worry or anxiety about something that is not actually happening right now, say thank you for the outcome you would really like to experience!
In addition to these five tools I use to keep my stress level low and my joy level high, I remember that things are always working out. I do not have to, nor am I able to, control every single thing that occurs in my life. AND these are all things that I’ve asked for that I now have to be thankful for! Great, wonderful, joyful and exciting things, experiences and loved ones to remind you that the “issue” your stressing over is really not that bad and will be over before you know it!