The rush of the first weeks of back-to-school has been replaced with frenectism and STRESS. There.is.so.much.to.do. As a result, I have moved into a waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night phase, wide awake at 3 AM, worrying about things—everything. Work. Soccer practice. Cub Scouts. My son’s birthday. Doctors’ appointments. Dance lessons. Piano lessons. And more. Other nights, I can’t fall asleep; instead, I make to do lists and review, in my mind, my calendar for the next day. It’s making me miserable.
So, in an effort to get my stress under control, on my 45-minute commute home from work today, I made a list of the stress management techniques that help me get the worrying in check. Since giving up sleep to get everything done isn’t a sustainable option (I’ve thought about it), I need more strategies and fewer wrinkles between my eyes. With some brainstorming, I came up with five stress management techniques for busy people—moms, dads, and everyone else:
- Exercise – No surprise here, right? But this one always trips me up. I make getting exercise A BIG DEAL. I make it COMPLICATED. I always imagine it includes a cute outfit, a great spot in yoga class, and lots of time. I’ve learned the past few weeks that it doesn’t have to be any of those things. I’ve started the Couch to the 5K app—it paces you on a run, moving you from sitting on the couch to running in a 5k in just a few weeks, and I have learned that 30 minutes a day can change everything! I put on my woefully ugly running shorts and beat-up sneakers, and I’m off. And, I feel really good when I’m done.
- Music – I’ve discovered an all 80s channel on the radio, and it has changed my mornings. On the drive to work, I belt out Billy Idol, the Bangles, and Michael Jackson in the privacy of my own car. I am sure I look like a fool to the people driving by me, but I am having a wonderful time. You cannot sing along to “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” and not laugh. Or at least not remember yourself at 14 singing that song, all braces and bad perm, and laugh. Or so I have heard.
- Reading – When I don’t read before bed, I cannot easily fall asleep. I have learned that the hard way. No matter what, I make time for 20 minutes of calm reading. It signals to my never-stop-moving mind that it’s time to let go. Alas, 20 minutes isn’t enough when the book is addictive (like Outlander, the book I just started that I will return to as soon as this blog post is finished).
- Baking – This is the one stress management technique that’s fattening. I love to bake. I like to try new muffin recipes, make cookies to hide in my kids’ lunches, and create treats for my husband to sneak before bed (so you see why exercise was #1, right?). Baking is so satisfying; I love following the steps and the promise of something yummy at the end. The key is to not eat the batter, of course.
- Redecorating – When I can’t fall asleep, I redecorate, in my mind, homes I have visited. Mine, my mom’s, friends. Likely every house I have ever been to (except one). There’s something relaxing about imagining new paint colors and furnishings, and, since I know how expensive such endeavors can be in real life, I’m free, in those minutes before sleep does appear, to be creative. Blue ceilings, violet bathrooms, and new bathroom tile. My house has been through the most extensive renovation in my head. Now, if only I can talk my husband into some of those late-night ideas…
Just writing this post makes me feel better. Perhaps that’s #6: writing.
What about you? What’s your go-to stress management tip?