Monday, May 12, 2014

a new project: making a stress free life

I am sure I am not alone- schedules, work, family, friends, life, all moving at breakneck speed and never seeming to get enough of your attention. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed.  To feel like you are failing.

The other day I came to the realization that, right now, these are The Good Old Days.  And I am missing them.  I am going through the motions but not truly participating, absorbing or enjoying them.   There are many reasons why, most of them my own fault.  Overextending myself.  Not taking care of myself physically. Being distracted.  Multitasking. And then I feel stressed out, like, ALL THE TIME.  Then I yell at my kids and act in ways I regret.  And I am pretty sick of it.  And frankly, I think I am making myself physically sick.

This past weekend I had a work conference in Toronto with my entire office staff, which is basically a bunch of working moms like me.  We went to the conference by day and at night we had dinner, wine, went to shows, acted silly, laughed, danced, talked.  It was fabulous.  I felt good.  I felt, what is that word?.....RELAXED.  I liked the feeling.  So I decided that, starting NOW, I was not going to be stressed out anymore. I truly think that this is MY decision.  I can take control and not let external factors dictate my reactions to them and my feelings.

How am I going to do that?  Really, I'm not sure.  And I know it will be a learning process with many failures along the way.  But my instincts tell me I need to start by doing these things:

1.  Get enough sleep.
Being rested helps me cope with the external stressors of life and help me deal with them appropriately, with patience and efficiency, instead of react to them in a reflexive and negative way.

2. Get up early in the morning.
This one sucks.  I like to sleep in.  but then I often wake up feeling rushed and behind the eight ball.  By getting up a bit earlier, I can slow my pace and have time to think as I do things. Get organized and plan.  It keeps me more calm.

3. Fuel my body with good food.  
I have noticed in the past few years that I am gaining weight, and much of it in my midsection. This, my doctor tells me, is a common place to store fat when you have too many stress hormones circulating in your body.  Also, when I am stressed I have the bad habit of turning to food for that instant gratification, thinking I am treating myself, but really, it is kind of destructive, isn't it?  I am not talking about that big desert you share with your girlfriend on a night out, or the popcorn at a movie.  Those things are fun and occasional.  I am talking about the chocolate bar I shove in my face but barely taste as I drive from one event to the next because I haven't planned a proper meal. Or the bag of chips that disappears when I collapse on the couch at night for some "me time" while watching tv.  Social eating- okay.  Binging alone- not.  I know that I feel so much better, physically and mentally, when I eat healthfully, but I really struggle to do so.  I need to try, and to do that I need to plan.

4.  Sometimes, "Me Time" is doing the laundry.
I know that sounds downright lame.  But sometimes that pile of unfolded laundry or messy house sits in the back of my mind and stresses me out for days, making me tired and grumpy, when really if I just deal with it, I will feel more relaxed and organized.  No, it is not FUN, but in the end it will make me feel good to have it done, and being productive feels better in the end than a lazy hour on the couch.   It is good to get organized.

5. Exercise most days, preferably outside.
I have seen so many times how being outside positively effects my mood.  It makes me, and my problems, feel small when I am surrounded by big sky and trees and air and nature.  It is a kind of meditation really.  And exercise gives me that rush of happy hormones that makes me feel so good.  It makes me think clearer and sleep more soundly.  But often, because I am feeling tired and sluggish, I skip out on this ritual in favour of another restless hour of sleep.  I need to remind myself that this is quiet time FOR ME and just get to it.

6. Take time to cuddle every day with children and pets.
Nothing better for the heart than a good cuddle.

7. Quit multitasking.
Do one thing at a time, well, and give it your full attention.  This especially includes having conversations with others.  Give them your focused attention. Put down your phone.

8. Cut down on social media time.
This is a hard one for me because I SO enjoy my interactions with my internet friends.  They inspire me, make me laugh, and make me feel good.  So I would never cut it out completely.  But I need to focus on the people in my life who are physically here, too.

9. Remember Dad's two rules of life:
1. Don't sweat the small stuff
2. It's ALL small stuff.
In the end, how much of what we worry about every day really matters? It will all work out.

10. Remember my friend Anna's rule of life:
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Sometimes you just have to go big. Stay out until the sun rises.  Eat a second helping of cake.  Drink all the wine. Have fun and live life's moments.  That is why we're here.

So I am going to give this a try, starting NOW. I had a healthy breakfast, have laundry in the machine and have my workout clothes on, ready to go for a run outside despite the rain.  I might use the blog as a forum to track my progress along the way, and if any of you out there want to take this or a similar personal journey with me, I am happy to lend support!  Strength in numbers, we can encourage each other :)

Whatever your day brings, I hope you have a good one!


Little Island Quilting said...

Blimey. It's Dr Maslow. I do all of that already so I 'm good to go 😃

Sarah Fredette said...

It's almost like you're reading my mind. :D Lately, I've been feeling like I'm running downhill, frantically waving my arms to keep from falling on my face. I'll have to think about what's going to be on my goal list, but the binge eating and the exercising were already suggested by the doctor, along with take multivitamins. I do love your number 10. :D

Dorrie said...

I'm right there with you! I feel the SAME way! Let's do this!

Unknown said...

#9 has one last part to it: If you can't fight or flee, FLOW.
This is an important post. It's time to really be good to ourselves so that we can enjoy life. I sometimes think that while we are doing the "mundane", the high moments flash past w/o our knowing - until later.

Catherine said...

I can definitely relate to all of this. And I am with you on exceeding outdoors. I have started walking, after work, each evening. It is SO invigorating!

Katie B said...

Check, check, and check. I can totally relate. Except the laundry. Do I HAVE to fold the laundry? (Yes, I do, because that mountain of unfolded mess haunts me.)

Isisjem said...

Wise words. I can relate to this so much and I don't even have kids into the mix. I read a great quote on pinterest earlier: "Learn to say 'No' without explaining yourself." I think it's a female trait to want to please people so we take on too much and sometimes it's hard to say 'no' and when we do we feel we need to justify it.

Shay said...

I think there comes a time where you realise if you dont take control of life it’s controlling you. Kudos for working that out and deciding to grab it and shake it up to your advantage.

Getting up early is my absolute saviour in managing my insane life. I have a whole hour to myself in the mornings , and I plan my day , work out what I want to achieve for the day , and generally faff about. It’s wonderful!

Good Luck with your less stressful life. I think sometimes we all run around like blue arsed flies so much we forget to actually live in the moment.

Karen said...

I can relate to this, too. A site that has really helped me, is It basically helped me establish routines that keep stress away, even with my two young children. It might just help you with your goals, too.

Leigh Anne said...

Add me to the list! It's such a vicious circle. EAt crap food, feel sluggish and gross, skip workout, get stressed about skipping workout, eat crap food, etc. I'm making the effort to get back to where I have energy and snapping at my kids isn't my first reaction :(

Amanda said...

That is such a great list! I have so many of the same goals. I think I'll give this a try with you. Thanks for the great idea.

Jo Ann said...

Good advise for all of us. Thank you. Slow down a clove life!

Unknown said...

Hi Kristie - thanks for your honesty and candour. I've been struggling with all of these same was like you were describing my life. I recently read a book called "Say Good-bye to Survival Mode" by Crystal Paine. She outlines many of the same strategies you do.

My step one is going to be getting up early. I need to not be rushing out the door each morning yelling at the kids to hurry up! said...

This was a very thought provoking post and one that I certainly can learn from.

Angela said...

Love you so much!! I need to take a lesson from you. That number one SLEEP is such a huge part of all of this. I am on a quest for sleep...ever elusive. It's going to take surgeries and probably diet changes but I know that it will again be the "adult" decision...even though I'm feeling a bit Peter Pan about the whole thing.

Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge said...

Why not Spring resolutions? All these goals sound like sensible choices - definitely ones I'd like to follow a little more closely. Best of luck on your journey!

ipatchandquilt said...

Wonderful post! I need to get more exercise too.... And clean my house more often as it does give me peace when it is nice and tidy!
About 1,5 years ago I started to quilt seriously and that has given me such an creative outlet that I feel much much better than before. The binge eating has almost disappeared as I can not eat and sew at the same time, ha ha! Dirty fingers! I watch less tv than ever before, and get more done in the sewing room. I still have trouble with getting my house in order as sewing is definitely more fun than housekeeping! :-)
I will try to follow along with you and maybe (?) get some exercise outdoors?!

Mrs Flying Blind... said...

oh i hear you on every single point!!!
I hope it works for you, and I am going to try and do likewise xxx

Nora said...

You are my twin, I feel EXACTLY like that! I follow Flylady and post on the facebook page which is great for encouragement and a laugh!

I eat organic, I attend Ballet and POinte (and try once a week to hit a date with Darcey Bussell and her Pilates DVD!) BUT, I work hard, procrastinate about housework (coz it all needs doing TODAY and today isn't long enough, so I worry about where to start and disable myself with stress!!) I spend too long on the computer (Pinterest mostly!! And reading blogs...oooops!) I want fresh air, laughs, a calm home, fun with my family......I'm with you!

Let's get to it!!!

Good wishes for change xxx

Unknown said...

Love this! I was actually thinking that I need to make a "Mother's Day Resolution" to do several of these things. Good for you, for putting it out there! :)