Whether as a busy parent working through the challenges of work or home, or a as kid managing school and social pressure, managing stress is a very important skill. There are so many theories, books, articles and blog posts discussing stress reduction that just reading through all of the information can be stressful. I decided to take a step back and examine each of the “stressful” areas in my life one by one. Here are some of the strategies I used to reduce stress each day. Please share what you do to deal with the things that cause you stress.
1. Get Sleep: Arianna Huffington’s book (Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder) was the original inspiration for my own journey to get more sleep each night. I realized that part of my stress each day was because I was tired. With work, kids and so many other daily responsibilities keeping me active, I decided to use sleep as my main secret weapons to manage it all. With a good night’s sleep, I feel less stress and more energy to handle the daily juggle. I started to work backwards from the latest I can go to sleep (11pm) and determine what time I need to complete household tasks, say good night to the kids, and shut off all electronics. This calculation revealed that I need one hour of quiet, reading or relaxing time before bed. That means that I *try* to get in bed at 10pm and start my process of relaxation. While this does not always work, it provices a schedule framework each night. Sometimes I just quietly meditate for 10 minutes before bed, closing my eyes and thinking of the beach, smelling the ocean air and hearing the waves. Another way I like to relax before bed is doing yoga or stretching exercises while listening to calming music.
2. Daily Exercise: Another thing causing me stress each day was trying to squeeze in exercise time. With my schedule, I could not fit in long runs, trips to the health club or attending exercise classes on a regular basis. So I decided to simplify my schedule by counting things such as walks outside, exercises at home (planks, sit-ups, squats and using inexpensive exercise equipment) or just a quick basketball game with my boys as exercise. Suddenly the word “exercise” did not cause my stress because I had so many options. I even limited lunch invitations to those that included some sort of walking, including parking far away and walking to the lunch meeting.
3. Spend Time with Friends: My family and I enjoy socializing and seeing friends whenever we can, but our schedules and our friends’ schedules became so busy as our kids got older. We needed to plan family get togethers months in advance. We did not want our whole social life to revolve around the people we saw at our kid’s activities so we contacted groups of friends who knew each other and make plans. The kids really appreciated our offer that they invite friends over for a movie night.
4. Time Management: Managing the family schedule, together with work schedules, was another contributor to daily stress. I decided to initiate this school year by putting all known school events in an online calendar that I shared within the family. This included creating different calendars for each of my kids. One of our goals included having my teen son check his smartphone, which has access to his online calendar, to help manage his schedule. Having all of our events in an online calendar helped release some of the stress for managing time because I had home and mobile access to daily schedules.
5. Set Up Health Appointments: After I set up our family schedule online, I decided to then go ahead and schedule health and dental appointments. Time went by quickly and before I knew it I was behind in my own appointments, including the scheduling of my mammogram and dental checkups. This included dealing with issues that I had been postponing. My dentist had told me that my daily stress was causing me to grind my teeth at night, and I needed to do something about it. After seeing my son easily fit his Invisalign Teen treatment into his daily routine, I realized that it may just be time to look into fixing my own dental issues. My teeth crowding has been sending me to the dentist on a regular basis (causing stress) and also I realized I was not smiling as much because I was self conscious (causing more stress!). I have seen my friends fix their smile with Invisalign, so it is time for me to consider fixing my own smile by making an appointment with an orthodontist for myself!
Disclosure: I am a member of the Invisalign Teen Mom Advisory Board. My son has received complimentary treatment from Align, but all opinions expressed are my own. Here is information on the Invisalign smile assessment, treatment process and how to find a Doc.