Thursday, July 20, 2017

How I Lower My Stress Level

Computers makes me feel stressed. Let me clarify. I’m not a Luddite. I do not hate technology. I am not against technology. I am fully capable of using it. But computers almost always makes me feel anxious. I recently said this to a friend and it made me wonder why this is the case. My first thought was that it is the tasks that I have to do on the computer. Perhaps I am anxious about the tasks and, therefore, I am projecting that anxiety on the poor computer.  I don’t, however, think that this is the case. Case in point, paying the bills, if I am just sitting down with my checkbook, paper budget, and paper bills, it doesn’t bother me, there is no stress. When I think about paying my bills electronically and balancing my checkbook on the computer, I get stressed. Strange, right? I love to write people letters, real letters, paper and pen letters. I hate writing emails. I love to write, period. Essays, thoughts, blog posts, etc. The thought of sitting down and typing up an actual blog post on the computer makes me stressed, and so I put it off. (Hence, I’m not very good at the whole “blog” thing.)  I have lots of examples, but I won’t continue to bore you with them. 
The Ultimate Planner
    I wonder, why is this the case? Is it because I have kids and, as all moms know, the moment you sit down at a computer all hell breaks loose in your perfectly peaceful home. Or, when you pick up a telephone your completely silent children start to fight, scream, and ask you questions as they haven’t, well, since the last time you were on the phone—which was probably last week as no one wants to endure this too often. Am I just anticipating the battles that will come and that is why my blood pressure rises? I don’t know. But this, this is the reason that I spend hours and hours looking for quotes and formatting a PAPER planner. I do this, because I NEED it and I LOVE it. The shortest of “to do” lists, when typed on a computer, stresses me, but I can look at a three-page list in a paper planner and not be phased. Yes, this planner is for sale. Not because I expect many people to buy it (though you should, it really is quite wonderful) but because I think it is really helpful and I love to be helpful. (Speaking of helpful, this is what it looks like if you are interested.)
   Despite all of the conveniences that technology offers—pop-ups, email reminders, fancy apps, etc.—I always still manage to forget things. But since changing over to the paper planner, this never happens (as long as I make certain to write things down).  Another perk of the planner is the quotes. Every time I feel anxious or stressed, I just read a quote and I feel better.  Take my advice (I love to give advice) find a paper planner and use it. (This one is on sale for only $20)  You will probably feel less stressed just by holding it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Permission to Rest

Image result for relaxing by a stream
I write a lot about working hard, getting things done, needing to be organized, holding oneself to a higher standard, etc.  This is because I am usually writing to myself and I always need the reminders.  Of course, this does not mean that I am always perfectly hardworking, organized, put-together, etc.  I have LOTS of bad days.  The last two weeks were the busiest/craziest weeks that I have had yet in terms of the amount of time I was running around, the number of activities, and the time away from home.  I had one morning where I didn’t have to leave the house until 12:30, and I was frantically trying to get stuff done, but I was having a very hard time focusing and actually accomplishing anything. Then it hit me, I was EXHAUSTED.  No wonder I was feeling so un-motivated. Of course, I was also feeling extremely guilty about my lack of productivity.  I knew that I was exhausted, but yet, I couldn’t get over this feeling that I was failing.
    All in all, now that I am out of the craziness, I have been thinking a lot about what I did right and what I could have done to make the weeks (despite the busyness) a bit more peaceful.  When life is stressful, is it possible to not be stressed? One thing that I did realize today is that, sometimes, it is okay not to get much done.  We are at our jobs 24/7.  Even when the family goes on vacation, the mom never gets a vacation.  How then, are we supposed to do our jobs well and give our all to our families without having a nervous breakdown? We have to learn how to let things go and stop. Yes, we all need a Saturday away from the house, alone, once in a while (once a month would be GREAT!), but what about during the week? What if we can’t get away?

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Take a day at home where you don’t try to get lots of stuff done, and DON”T FEEL BAD ABOUT IT. Have a simple meal (or scrambled eggs or frozen pizza or jarred spaghetti) for dinner and don’t feel guilty.  Spend the day reading books to the kids, reading to yourself while sitting on the couch. Let the kids play outside while you sit drinking iced tea and writing in a journal or reading a book or a magazine. Call someone on the phone and chat. Don’t try to do laundry. Don’t try to get the house perfectly clean. Just Relax! Tomorrow, you can get back to work. But on this one day, STOP, and take advantage of time.

Image result for painting of a person reading a book REDEEM THE TIME
All too often we have bad days, like I did last week, where things just Don’t Get Done.  On these days I usually waste time on the computer or doing something else counter-productive.  This of course does not refresh me, but rather it makes me feel even more tired and anxious as the guilt over the wasted time builds.  Instead, I need to give myself permission to take a break and then use that time in a truly relaxing way; like reading, playing a game with the kids, crafting (for those who like to do this), gardening, baking, etc.

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If you are a full-time homemaker, the fact that your home is your work means that in a way, you never truly leave it. Back when I worked in an office, it was much easier to “leave my work at work.” Perhaps you are not able to sit down and relax, at home. Take the kids and go out for the day. We are lucky enough to live near a Botanical Garden. Once in a while I will pack a simple lunch, and the kids, and we will just meander through the gardens for a morning. The kids will bring coloring or drawing, and I will read a story to them as we sit by a pretty fountain and some lovely flowers. One nice aspect of this is that I get to spend some quality time with the kids and they see me away from home, where I am constantly needing to, “get stuff done.” Even better, perhaps you are blessed enough to have a husband who can, once in a while, take a weekday off from work. Then, you could all go for a hike or to the gardens or a park, together.  The nice thing about doing this on a weekday is that places aren’t as busy as they are on weekends.

We work hard at what we do, and that is good. But sometimes we need to take a step back and allow ourselves the freedom to stop and rest. When we do this, we are able to restore some semblance of peace to our lives. If you can avoid it, do not spend this time organizing your planner or doing your menu plan. Completely unplug from the work of the home and do something that makes you feel like the smart, put-together, fun woman that you are. Do it, I give you permission.