2014 did not end quietly and 2015 felt like it started at full tilt.
Revisiting old medical issues, discovering new ones, painful anniversaries, and discovering that my storage unit has mold issues and is not as weather proof as I thought. So, no easing into the New Year as I had hoped.
I had big plans, I wanted to start working on my focus words for the year, exploring my creative side more, getting outside more, simplifying a few things and finding time for real rest. January was more of a race, working hard just to keep my head above water.
This past weekend and especially the last couple of days my body said, you are done, either you stop or I will stop for you. I could see the signs, I knew it was coming and that it was a race against the clock to get through my list of had to do’s before I could start to slow down.
It was not totally unexpected, the last couple of weeks of December I could see what January was shaping up to be like. It was going to be a hard 4 weeks and would be filled with travel, late nights and probably working most weekends just to keep up. We all have these days, weeks, months where things just go crazy, despite our best efforts.
I’ve written about the importance of hitting the pause button. To create time to stop, whether we feel like we can (or even should) or not. But it is important! So just so you know, I will keep writing about different ideas on how to hit that pause button until both you and I learn it, remember it and act upon it.
Stress is a part of life, there is no avoiding it. Finding ways to manage that stress is even more important when we feel overworked and like we can’t stop. Thankfully there are simple, small things we can do to start managing stress.
1) Pray: Prayer makes a difference. The act of praying can be calming and is known to reduce stress. I know that God is listening and waiting for me to come to Him for help and direction. But, if you are like me – sitting still with my eyes closed to pray is an invitation to fall asleep, so I journal my prayers to help keep me awake. I really like to use the CH@T pattern which I read about on RachelWojo.com. CH@T helps remind me to not have the entire prayer time focused on me.
2) Cat Naps/Power Naps: Naps and I have never gotten along. My Mom says I stopped taking them when I was about 2. Long naps leave me feeling sick. The older I get though I have found that short 15-20 minute naps don’t have that effect on me and in fact many times I wake up refreshed and ready to get moving again. Look at this! Even WebMD agrees with me 🙂
3) Art: I can’t draw a stick figure to save my live but I can doodle, Zentangle, and color my heart out. I’m not expecting great works of art or anything, but it does help me focus and calm me down when I am feeling wired. I really do love to color. This set of coloring books by Joanne Fink and these with visual illusions, are my favorites. Writing, drawing, or coloring helps you slow down your brain, it changes your focus to just one activity and that can do wonders to distract you from the stressed out racing thoughts.
4) Gratitude Journal: When stress levels are high and it feels like nothing is going right, creating a habit of writing a short list of things you are grateful for can help put things back into proper perspective. It may take a while for it to sink in but you will start to see little things during the day that you are thankful for, you might even start looking for them.
There are times when you have to just stop. Stop doing. Stop researching. Stop reading. Stop worrying. Stop thinking. Stop rushing. And give yourself permission to just be.
I hope these quick tips give you a few ideas for helping you manage your stress. What other tips can you think of?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.