Six ways to de-stress today

I’ve recently rekindled my passion for crocheting, a creative endeavor that soothes me. I set aside time for it on most days. As a result, I have purchased a large assortment of yarn in shades of every color. Whenever I go to make something, I sift through various bags searching for what I’m looking for.

Likewise, when I was a young mom I was always frantically searching for a stray glue stick or my keys. Then I bought a rack over my desk to keep my keys securely fastened, and more recently, storage containers to hold various yarns, neatly marked by color and material. I also set up a school zone in my home where my kids could both do their homework and keep their school items.

These small changes made a huge difference in my life, because they brought more peace, simply by eliminating what wasn’t working and fostering what brings me joy. If you would like to do the same, read on!

Eliminate obligations

It is not necessary or healthy to take on extra work if you don’t want to. We’re obviously not talking about your job, because you won’t always have a choice there, but so many people, and women in particular, will take on added commitments in their personal lives just so they do not upset anyone (other than yourself!).

So when you get pressure from the PTA or in-laws or neighbors to join yet another committee or work on a bake sale, flea market, or group project, you really can say “no” to anything you have no interest in. It is a sign of good health to set boundaries, so you have time for you and family.

Add solutions

What are the things that drive you absolutely crazy on a regular basis? As a manager, I apply this principle at work, and I’m sure you can relate. When something isn’t working, you will likely have a meeting about ways to fix or improve upon it. Yet at home, I would encounter recurring obstacles but not change them!

Whether it is a simple fix like an overcrowded coat rack, a dish tray that goes awry, or a junk drawer that takes up space and serves no purpose, if we take five minutes in the day to ask ourselves what is not working organizationally at home, we can immediately make a decision and plan to change it.

Eliminate communication

This might sound harsh, but consider how many people call, text, and e-mail you daily. Have you ever just sat down to dinner or to help your child with homework and get an urgent text or call from a frantic friend or co-worker who needs their problem heard right now?

Just because we have the technological capability to always be in touch does not mean that we must be at everyone’s beck and call. Of course, you will want to leave your phone on for your spouse and kids to be able to reach you, but you can also decide that at a certain time of day, you will not answer it for anyone else. It’s not rude, it’s self-sustaining.

Add imposed relaxation

This means something different for everyone. Some people reach optimal relaxation when doing yoga. Others get it from running, painting, or doing crafts. Often, it can be something simple like taking a bath or catching up on the your favorite show. No matter what does it for you, it is key to introduce recreation and joy into your daily life on a regular basis. Otherwise, you will end up frazzled, and possibly resentful.

Eliminate reading updates

Sure, Facebook is good for waiting rooms and long bus rides to work, but there are two big reasons to stay away from making it a daily habit.

First off, so many of the perfect family holidays, vacations, and celebrations are falsely re-created snapshots that do not exist in real life. You might see your perfect friend with her perfect kids and perfect home, but not see that one minute after the photo was taken, the kids were arguing, the couple was fighting, and the Cinderella dream was dead. Comparing oneself to anyone (and especially on social media sites where nothing is reality) only sets you up to feel less than.

Secondly, we might absently scroll through our feed and then find ourselves 20 minutes later checking out what our long-lost friend’s sister’s favorite recipe is. It’s a huge time waster, time that could have gone to mindful reading, taking a bath, or savoring that last sip of wine.

Add music

There is something about music that is instantly soothing. When you turn on your favorite songs, your heart rate lowers, your mood changes, and you feel lighter, brighter, and happier. Just think of how much your home’s tone changes when you listen to the hostile news channels on television compared to turning off the television and playing your favorite song.

One of my kids’ happiest memories, they tell me, is when I would listen to Dave Matthews or System of A Down. Now when they hear those songs, they say they remember us cooking together or doing art projects, and it gives them a good feeling. Music is an instant stress buster, so the next time your home could use a pick-me-up (like during homework hour), turn up the volume, and sing your hearts out.

Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babble.com. Find Sullivan on her blogs, Just Write Mom and Some Puppy To Love.

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