In a perfect world, we’d never have to worry about dealing with stress. Unfortunately, stress is something everyone has to deal with to some degree or another. The key is finding ways to cope with stress so it doesn’t wear you down.
I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice my stress management skills this past year. I was on bedrest with twins and dealing with hyperemesis. We were evacuated from our home in the San Diego fires (which then sent me into preterm labor). I had premature twins. My daughter nearly drowned. Then if all that wasn’t enough we ended the year with a job layoff.
It was a rough year.
Stress can be all-consuming. It’s hard to enjoy anything when you are stressed. Years ago I turned to anxiety meds to cope with stress. For several reasons, I decided I didn’t want to go that route anymore so I’ve spent the last several years trying to find more natural ways to deal with stress.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to deal with stress naturally:
1. Sleep more. Everything is more stressful when you haven’t had enough sleep. When you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed, do whatever you can to get some extra sleep. Go to bed an hour earlier, take a power nap for 30 minutes, or try one of these easy ways to get more sleep. I promise that things will look better when you wake up.
2. Exercise. Sometimes you really just need to get your heart pumping in order to deal with an extra stressful situation. Take a walk or hit the gym and forget about your problems for a while. If you can’t get anyone to babysit, exercise with your kids. They’ll have fun too and you’ll enjoy the time together.
3. Use natural treatments. I’ve been trying out RESCUE products from Bach lately. They are completely homeopathic and were developed by a doctor so I feel comfortable taking them. They come in several forms but I’ve been trying out the RESCUE Pearls, which are tiny capsules that melt on your tongue when you feel like stress is getting the best of you, but they come in several different forms. Next on my list to try is the Pastilles because I think they’d be great to throw in my diaper bag. They definitely seem to make a difference when I take them and they are really convenient. Right now you can download this BOGO coupon to try them out. I found them at my local Sprouts store but they are also sold at CVS, Walgreens, and Whole Foods.
4. Control your breathing. Have you ever noticed that when you get stressed out your breathing gets faster. That quick breathing makes you feel more anxious so it’s a bad cycle to get stuck in. Take a minute to consciously slow your breathing when you are feeling stressed. Breath in through your mouth for 7 seconds, hold your breath for 2, then breath out for 5 seconds. In a few minutes you’ll be feeling much calmer and you’ll be better able to tackle whatever is stressing you out.
5. Keep things in perspective. This is hard to do when you are stressed out but it can make a huge difference. This year I’ve been trying to adjust from 4 kids to 6 kids. That’s a big jump and we’ve had more than a few stressful days. What helps on those hard days is remembering how lucky I am. My toddler almost died over the summer. I’m very grateful to still have her even when colors on the walls. We have friends who can’t have kids. I’m definitely glad I ended up with a few extra rather than wishing I had been able to have more. Sometimes just taking a second to remember to be grateful and remind yourself what is truly going to matter in the larger scheme of things.
6. Get some fresh air. Getting outside always helps me to center myself when I feel my stress level start to get out of control. I’m lucky enough to have a beach nearby when I really need to step away from things. The combination of fresh air and the sound of the waves is so calming to me and I have a hard time feeling stressed when I’m there. If I can’t get away sometimes just closing my eyes and listening to some ocean sounds on a white noise machine (or app) while doing some slow breathing will do the trick too.
7. Tackle one thing at a time. Do you ever try to do everything at once when you are busy? I know I’m guilty of this! When I get really overwhelmed by the length of my to-do list the only thing to do is focus on one thing at a time. While I’m doing that one thing, nothing else exists. I have to consciously make an effort to avoid thinking about the rest of my list so I can focus on the task at hand. When I finish that task then I can move onto the next one. The rest of the list always looks a bit more manageable with one less thing on it.
What do you do to manage your stress?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.