Lately, life has been both busier and a whole lot more stressful. Years ago, I would’ve been miserable until everything magically turned out OK.
I would’ve held my breath until everything was beautiful.
Today, I’m trying to find ease amid the stress, amid the uncertainty.
I’m standing in the rain holding an umbrella, instead of wishing away the storm, as water pours on my head. Sometimes, it’s a small umbrella. And, sometimes, it’s a newspaper.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
But it’s about doing the best we can.
Here’s how I’m finding ease when stress strikes:
- Working out most days. Exercise helps to boost my mood and calms my busy brain. Plus, because I take group classes at the gym, I get the opportunity to chat and laugh with my friends. This is vital, because when I’m stressed, I tend to isolate myself.
- Listening to a guided meditation before bed. Every night. I started listening to a guided CD (which I transferred to my iPhone) about a month ago. It also helps to quiet my mind. Many nights my thoughts still keep swirling, but the meditation helps to redirect them. I also bought a sleep mask, which acts like a kind of cocoon. When I sleep, I need both complete darkness and complete silence.
- Eating regularly, and savoring nutrient-rich foods. When I’m stressed, my appetite dips. But not eating enough just leads to more anxiety and a foul mood (and it’s simply unhealthy). So I make sure to eat every few hours. I love fruits, so I regularly eat bananas, cherries and apples — and watermelon, my favorite! I also try to eat some protein and carbs for most of my meals. I recently interviewed registered dietitians for another article, and they stressed the importance of having carbs and protein at every meal. Apparently, this balances out blood sugars, and helps with mood and anxiety.
- Listening to my body. Sometimes, this means taking a short nap in the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes, this means sleeping in. Sometimes, it means missing a workout or engaging in one. Sometimes, it’s having a bowl of pasta with cheese. Sometimes, it’s savoring a bowl of ice cream. Sometimes, it’s taking the day off. Sometimes, it’s working on the weekends.
- Taking deep breaths throughout the day. It’s simple and fast-acting. Taking several slow, deep breaths also is soothing, like a wave of calm washing over me.
- Participating in small projects. I haven’t had much time or energy, honestly, to do “extracurricular” stuff. For instance, instead of keeping up with Susannah’s August Break on my personal blog, I’ve been participating almost daily on Instagram. It’s a nice break and is like a shot of creativity. Recently, I spent an hour drawing and doodling in my new sketchbook. I’ve also journaled once a week.
- Watching my favorite shows. I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV, “The Big Bang Theory,” and other shows that make me laugh. Reality TV — hello Bravo — may or may not be part of my routine, as well! These all act as healthy distractions for me.
Stress can deplete our days. It can ruin our well-thought-out routines and plans. It can strain our relationships, especially the one with ourselves.
But it doesn’t have to. At least not entirely.
Practicing the above habits is how I’m finding ease in the stresses of my current everyday.
What about you? How do you find ease in your everyday, especially when stress strikes?