Serenity in Times of Stress

Making Time for Yourself…

So, what’s your move when stress hits?

For me, a few things come to mind, none of which are particularly helpful…stress eating, stress cocktails, crying, pulling the covers over my head, and waiting until it blows over.

Anybody else?

Yep, I’ve tried them all…and none of them made me feel much better long term. The stress was still there, but I was a few pounds heavier and even more exhausted.

Until I wasn’t…

The thing is . . . stress is everywhere and it’s a good idea to find a way to deal with it that doesn’t require shopping for a wardrobe in a larger size!

Recent events have proven that putting my own oxygen mask on first is essential to maintaining some level of sanity during stressful times.

I’ll be honest, stressors have been high for me lately. Some are external, completely out of my control, and must be dealt with. Some are totally of my own making in order to get the life I want…. which still must be dealt with, by the way!

What can we do to deal with those stressors that come our way…planned or unplanned?

I have learned over the years that, in general, the more prepared I am the better equipped I am to deal with life and the stress that comes along with it. Yes, it’s a lot sometimes, but the old Benjamin Franklin quote comes to mind at a time like this…

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

OK, sure, he wrote that in response to preventing fires in Philadelphia way back when, but…Come on…doesn’t a boatload of stress sometimes feel like a firestorm anyway?

So, can we prevent stress? Not really. But we can work on our reaction to it. And the best offense is a strong defense! (OK, I’ll stop with the metaphors already! LOL)

  • If we have a plan of action in place, we can react more positively to stressors.
  • If we have mastered our self-care, stress can’t affect us as badly or disrupt us as much.
  • If we have a solid list of things that bring us joy and help our mental state, we are far better at managing stressful situations.

The key is to have these things in place before hand, to prevent the total meltdown before it happens, or at least have systems in place to help lessen the effects. It’s kinda like a disaster evacuation kit for the mind!

So…how do you do that? Well, if you are an avid follower of mine, you may already have my Habits Guide to help you build and sustain a creative life through good habits. If that’s in place, you’re well on your way. If you’d like a copy, click HERE to get it.

However, something I notice many people do when stress hits is they forget that their mental state is as important as their physical state! Give yourself permission to enjoy something each day that pulls your mind away from the stress. The activity doesn’t have to be long, complicated, or preplanned. Just something that is enjoyable and positive….like your creative practice perhaps? It is important, from a mental health perspective, to continue to enjoy something amid chaos. But more importantly, you must make the time to do it! Mm-kay?

Take 30 minutes or an hour for yourself and do something that’s enjoyable, or at the very least gets your mind OFF the issues at hand.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a walk through nature and look at the foliage, flowers, fall colors, or the fauna that are out and about.
  • Watch a favorite movie or TV show. Take a break and put on a show that makes you smile, laugh, or roll on the floor.
  • Put together a new Pinterest board. Find a new topic and see what you can add. No rules, so it doesn’t have to be toward a project. It could be nothing more than cute baby animals.
  • Use visualization and imagine yourself at a favorite location. Imagine the scene, and include the noises, smells, and tastes of that experience.
  • Take a warm, soothing bubble bath, complete with the scents you love, music, and maybe some candles.
  • Sort your supplies. OK I know not everyone gets relaxed while cleaning, but this isn’t cleaning. This is reconnecting with the fun toys you already have…for no other purpose than to see them again.
  • Repot some plants, read a book, knit, tend your flower bed, play with Legos, lay in the sun. . .whatever floats your boat!

Do whatever is fun, gets you out of your head, and doesn’t take a lot of “brainpower.” The important thing is to have a list readily available when you need it.

So, here’s your homework. Make a list of several activities that make you feel good. These need to be what I call “pleasant distractions.” They need to be easy to do, simple, no-brainers, and available at a moment’s notice. Use these to distract yourself from stress, but make sure you DON’T use them to distract yourself from your creative work.

Share your favorite stress busting activities in the comments below or list new suggestions. I’ll add them to a running list and post it in my free Facebook Group.

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