I recently returned from taking a little rest and relaxation for a week. I didn’t realize how tightly wound I was due to all the demands on me personally, some from my job, some from myself and some from what others expect from me. Living this way has caused a lot of stress and it has been affecting my health. I’m the type of person that when someone asks me to help out and I can, then I do. This type of attitude overall can also get you into trouble when you take on more than you have physical time for and you end up cutting corners where you can to get everything done.
When we are asked or take on responsibilities that others wish us to do, plus our own deadlines for our own goals, we tend to give up things like sleep or eating properly to make time to get everything done that we need to do. It turns out that sleep is a major component to having a health body and dealing with stress. Eating a well balanced diet with protein, good fats, plenty of vegetable and fruit carbs is a big deal too. It all plays an important part to keeping your body functioning properly. These two areas is how I cut corners to get more done. It was a bad choice that I made that continues to cause health issues to pop up that I must work around now as part of my daily life.
For a solid week I did absolutely nothing. It helps when you are on a cruise ship and you have no Internet access or phone access to everyone to see what else you need to get done. It took me two days to unwind enough to just relax and enjoy the cruise. The dangers of looking at the list of events, excursions and so forth were just another way to stay busy and keep going at a pace I no longer could sustain, even when I wanted to. I had to sit in a lounge chair and stare at the ocean and do nothing. It took a few hours for me to get into that groove, but I can honestly say it was worth it once I slowed down and enjoyed the ‘do nothing atmosphere’. I didn’t have to cook meals, or do laundry, make beds or wash dishes which are chores we all do on top of working at jobs, on our own goals, juggling family and kids and so on.
I realized a few things on this trip that I think will help you with unwinding and letting go of some stress.
• Limit your list of the major items to be done in a day to three things. If you get them all done great, but if you only manage one or two then you should feel like you accomplished something important that day.
• Show yourself some grace. It’s okay if the unexpected has caused you to not get something done that you needed in that day. Redo the list and do the major item first the next day. Unless it’s a deadline for work itself, you can adjust your deadlines based on life.
• Make time to relax. This one is big for me. Relaxing is just as important as working and you need some down time to feel energized, motivated and encouraged to press on. It could be through a movie, music, dinner with friends, a hot bath with candles and essential oils, calling a friend or sitting quietly someplace that gives you inspiration, a park, a beach, a bookstore or etc. Read books you enjoy, do a craft that is relaxing, some people even bake, as that is relaxing to them. No matter what you choose pick something that won’t stress you out while doing it.
• Sit quietly for a while. It’s just important to sit with no noise around you and just listen. It helps you work out things in your thoughts that could be bothering you or that needs an answer you just haven’t been able to find in another way. It’s good for your spirit to take in nature and enjoy your surroundings. We are a fast moving society and sitting quietly for a designated amount of time and just listening helps us to deal with stress, clear our minds, provide insights and more.
• Exercise. We all need some form of exercise to help us with stress and to get our minds thinking clearly. If you enjoy running then do so, if you prefer biking or swimming then do that, as all are great options for cardio. We also need to strengthen our muscles with some resistance training/strength training. Lifting a few weights or using machines to do this type of exercise properly is a great idea. Building muscle will help your body overall and it also helps with metabolism and weight issues. Try a little yoga or Thai chi to develop some flexibility, as it will help with those jobs where we sit too much in a day. You could even turn up your favorite music and dance away. It’s fun and a great stress reliever too.
• Keep a journal. When you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed by your day-to-day life keeping a journal will help you get through those days easier. You can write down your ideas, what you are grateful for, areas you might be struggling or need encouragement so you can find someone to help you with that, record your failures and successes and so much more.
• Meditate or Pray. Stress is major to your health and can cause all types of bad things to happen even if you are pretty healthy overall. Evaluate your stress and take some measures to help you relax such as meditation or even prayer. Meditation is nothing more than sitting quietly, taking several deep breaths, focusing on your feet and working your way up your body with some soft music without words. It’s focusing on breathing, how your body feels and areas you might need to work on. If you are someone that believes in God, or a higher power, then prayer is great so that you can talk to Him about things that are bothering you. Turning those things over to Him to take care of will help with your stress levels. Prayer doesn’t have to be some long huge thing; it can be a quiet time first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, between clients, driving in your car, waiting on kids at their events and so forth. Prayer can be done anytime, short or long, so you can share your stresses with God.
Take a few minutes and really evaluate your life and your habits. If you work far too much and make reasons why you can’t go with the family to a movie, or take a bath, both of which only take up anywhere from thirty minutes to a couple hours then you are working far too much and it’s going to start affecting your life in health ways. Be honest and realize that you are here to create memories with those you love, touch others by spending time with them in some way and enjoying your journey to your goals.
It’s not going to be any fun to reach your goals but have lost those you love along the way because you were unable to focus on the important things in life. It also won’t help you if you end up reaching your goals and having terrible health issues because you didn’t listen to your body when it was trying to tell you to slow down. Yes, it’s important when you have goals to meet deadlines but not at the expense of your health and life.
Do you want to be known for what you do or for whose lives you have touched? Please share this with others if you feel it could help them as they struggle with stress and not relaxing. Your comments would be greatly appreciated as well as to how you deal with stress and getting yourself to take time to relax.
Thank you for reading and have a blessed week.