If you’re reading this, CONGRATULATIONS! You made it through the holiday season and saw the completion of January 2019!
I hope that you didn’t have to fight anyone at the local Bi-Lo for the last can of cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving dinner this year and that your family didn’t come out guns-a-blazing, questioning the status of your dating life at the table. I hope that you got all of your shopping done WEEKS before Christmas and that all of your gifting fell PERFECTLY into your budget. I’m sure that you only had one get-together with all of your friends and family and that you felt relaxed and rested throughout the whole holiday season! Oh, you didn’t get your Christmas cards out this year? Shame on you! I’m sure your friends were so upset that they didn’t bother to show up to your New Years Eve party.
There is always hope for a great Valentine’s Day, right?
(I hope you can sense the sarcasm in all of that.)
I joke about the holiday crazies, but I think we all know that the holidays can be stressful for both reasons that we can control and some that we simply cannot. I don’t know about you, but I most certainly over-exert myself trying to check off each box on my “to-do” list and bend over backwards trying to make each of my loved one’s holidays even better than the last. In doing so, I forget self-care and my physical and emotional stress responses creep up on me. In the end I am left physically and mentally depleted and completely unprepared to start the beginning of the year off on the right foot.
I’ve chosen to open this blog post talking about the holidays since it is the season we just experienced, but real talk, we know that stress happens outside of the scope of the holidays and we all feel it.
I will be completely vulnerable in admitting that stress has ALWAYS been something that I struggle to deal with. There have even been times in my life where I recognize the unnecessary stress that I have created for myself and instead of releasing it after recognizing it (which is a crucial first step), I’ve let it grow and fester, essentially dictating my happiness. In the past I have not prepared myself or put myself in a position to successfully handle stress and avoidance has been my “solution.”
One of my most lofty goals for 2019 is to effectively manage my stress. The techniques that I have chosen to implement into my daily routine mean eliminating unnecessary distress from my life, while also adding a healthy dose of eustress (good stress). While preparing a plan to accomplish my goals, I did a fair amount of self-reflection. I took into account what I was currently doing correctly in managing my stress and pinpointed my shortfalls. While looking internally, I also looked to external sources to see what worked well for other people. I hope that some (or all) of the techniques that are helping me can help you in leading a healthy, balanced stress life, as well!
A Nutrient-Dense Diet: Focus on choosing foods that positively fuel your body. Choose nutrient-rich foods packed with vitamins and minerals, high protein, and healthy fats. Cut out empty calories that provide little-to-no nutritional value such as packaged and sugary foods and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Check out these 21 Foods to Ease Anxiety and Relieve Stress from Home Remedies. The resource is a quick, comprehensive reference to foods that can help reduce your stress levels!
Physical Activity: Sweating it out during a workout is one of my favorite ways to implement eustress (the good kind) into my life. I know that there are a lot of people out there who probably don’t agree that pushing your body to it’s physical limits is calming or enjoyable, but it is scientifically proven that exercising releases chemicals called endorphins into the body that interact with receptors in the human brain. The response is a feeling of positivity, so, whether you want to hear it, or not, physical activity is a GREAT stress-reducer.
Quiet Time with Essential Oils: My boyfriend told me a joke the other day about how essential oils aren’t even essential to human life, but regardless if I need them to survive, I do know that they enrich my relaxation routine. On days where I feel stress taking over, my diffuser surrounds me with scents of lavender or a citrus and cedar blend. I’ve also purchased Essential oil therapy body wash for the quiet space of my shower and begun taking my oils to the gym for my post-workout sauna session (highly suggest this for stressed/sick people)!
Evaluating Priorities: What do you devote the majority of your time to? Is that time being used in ways that will positively contribute to your life or is it unnecessarily being added to your plate? Sometimes we feel like we have to fill our day with stuff (guilty), but time is precious, and in 2019 I want to make sure that I’m using it well. I know it sounds cliche, but sometimes it takes compiling a list of what consumes our time, scratching off what doesn’t need to be there, and moving forward with a less cluttered and more focused agenda.
Bullet Journaling: If you haven’t heard of a bullet journal, please go check out my Bullet Journal board on Pinterest. It is a great way to exercise your creativity, get organized, become more mindful, and relieve stress!
Reading for Pleasure: I know I’m not the only one out there that doesn’t know how to rest without feeling like I should be doing SOMETHING. For me, reading a book is my way of physically relaxing while still being able to pour into myself. I, personally, enjoy anything that is self-developmental, spiritually revitalizing, or a Jodi Picoult Novel because she never disappoints. Here are some of my favorite recent reads if you need suggestions:
- Imperfect Courage – Jessica Honegger
- It’s not Supposed to Be This Way – Lysa TerKeurst
- Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult
- House Rules – Jodi Picoult
- Uninvited – Lysa TerKeurst
(I have many more great suggestions if you ever want to talk books!)
Practicing Gratitude: In each of our own busy, little worlds, it is so easy to forget to take a moment of time to simply acknowledge what is good in life. Regardless of if gratefulness and words of thanks are extended to another person, sent up to God, or written as a sweet personal reminder for a not-so-good day, acknowledging the good when caught in the gloom can keep a person grounded. I’ve started keeping a gratitude log in my bullet journal. How do you like to express your daily gratitude?
Detaching from the Device: Raise your hand if over the holidays you were attached to your phone, thoroughly enjoying scrolling through pictures of Thanksgiving day plates, small children freaking out on Christmas morning, and your best friend’s epic New Years Eve escapades? Guilty as charged. I know for me, not just solely around the holidays, but any time I have an increase in time in which I have decreased responsibility I find myself drawn to my technology. We can all become more conscious about our screen-time and continue to work on becoming more comfortable simply enjoying the reality that is happening around us in the present moment.
Create Organization Systems: Anyone else been on Netflix and found yourself watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo yet? Well, if you haven’t watched it, I do recommend it for some organization motivation and inspiration. I personally, have gravitated towards her approach on thinning out closets and clothing drawers. I also recently went out and bought smaller organizational units to put in my kitchen drawers for all my kitchen utensils and some inexpensive plastic (but cute) baskets to organize my puppy supplies and other miscellaneous items in the linen closet. It not only looks great, but it’s so therapeutic!
Grace: Ever get fired-up because of what someone said or did to you? Maybe it was someone close that hurt you deeply or someone who simply cut you off in traffic this morning. Sometimes people don’t deserve grace, but if we humble ourselves enough to give it and approach situations with kindness, we can save ourselves the added stress. Respond gracefully, forgive and learn to ask for forgiveness in return, let it go when someone crosses you, and look for ways to help those that wrong you. Let’s all commit to decreasing stress and keeping those blood pressure levels normal this year by practicing grace upon grace!
I hope everyone has had an amazing start to the new year and has already started planning and implementing the positive changes that you want to see in your life for 2019, and on! I have missed you guys and can’t wait to see what everyone has in the works! Let me know what your 2019 plans involve by dropping a comment below!