It’s only natural to find yourself down in the dumps or over-stressed sometimes. I’ve definitely been there. Maybe life has gotten you down or you’ve had a series of hardships, one after the other. Often times, stress can creep in from various areas of our life and then it feels like trouble is coming at us from all angles, which only stresses us out more…it’s a vicious cycle.
While there is no one-size fits all cure to combat these times of hardship, I have found several methods that have helped me over the years that I wanted to share with you today. My sincere hope is that one or more of these methods work for you so that you can get back to living that Zippy Life of yours.
Focus On What You Can Control
It sounds so silly, but we seriously need a reminder of this sometimes. Many of us have a natural “take it all on” attitude, but in truth, you cannot take it all on. You cannot fix everything. There are things out of your control, and these are not the things that you should be focusing your time or energy into. When you feel overwhelmed and like you just can’t get ahead, take a few minutes to really think about what YOU can do about a situation to move things forward in the right direction. You can’t control what others have done, said, or …vice versa, what they didn’t do, or didn’t say! If necessary, make a list, with two columns – one of which are things you can control and the other you can’t. This should help put some perspective on the situation, and empower you by seeing where you can take action. Choose to make a conscious effort going forward to expel your time and energy on things you can control – worrying about what others have done or said (while easier said than done) is not conducive to reducing your stress.
Remember to Engage In Self-Care
You know how flight attendants give the instructions to place your own oxygen mask on before assisting others with theirs? Use this same analogy for life! If you are so focused on taking care of everyone and everything else, you will quickly lose steam and wear yourself out. Trust me, I’ve been there. And I’ve learned that it’s alright to take on a lot, as long as you are making yourself a priority too. But if you’re stretched completely too thin, you’ll find that next to everything suffers: your patience and demeanor will change, your sleep patterns and quality of sleep will go out the window, you’ll probably eat less-than-desirable foods, and you’ll feel like your current existence is to simply…exist. I’ve personally even noticed that my immune system is lowered in times of high stress, and being sick when you’re already dealing with a lot doesn’t help anything either. So remember to take care of yourself, putting a high emphasis on things that help you feel fulfilled and given a chance to relax, whether that’s a hot bubble bath, a glass of wine and a good book, a massage, a coffee date with a friend, a date night with your spouse, or a day trip somewhere new.
Bust Out of Your Comfort Zone
Do something new and daring to get yourself out of a rut! If you’ve been feeling ho-drum about life, a refreshing new activity is a good way to get things back on track. Sign up for that painting class or skydiving lesson, or take a drive to a new town to explore. Visit that bookstore you’ve always wanted to go, or take up a new hobby. One of my friends used to laugh at me because whenever life got too monotonous, I would make a comment about how I was waiting for something amazing to happen to shake things up. “Silly!” She told me, “You’re the one who has to make the amazing thing happen!”
Write a Letter
Got relational issues on the brain? Conflicts with others are normal and happen to the best of us. One of the best and most therapeutic things you can do is to get your thoughts out on paper. You don’t even have to send it – just writing the letter to the person you’d like to express your feelings to can help tremendously. It allows you the chance to organize your thoughts and feelings in a non-confrontational way, and getting it out of your head and your heart and onto paper might be enough to help you feel better about the situation. I’ve done this several times in my life and have always felt better after.
Count Your Blessings
Cliché, but true. When you feel like nothing is going right, look towards the things in your life that are – perhaps you’re having trouble at work but you have a great support system at home. Whatever the case may be, there are some good things to be thankful for, so anytime you need a reminder of the good things you’ve got going for you, review that list in your mind, hug your loved ones and remember that these hard times will pass.
Fake it til you make it, baby! Turn on a silly comedy movie that’s sure to get you laughing, blast some music and have a dance party in your living room, or play a hilarious game (Apples to Apples is always a fave!) with some friends to get your belly jiggling with some laughter.
Re-Evaluate your To-Do List
When you’ve got an overloaded plate to begin with, take a big ole’ chef’s knife to your to-do list and start cutting out the unimportant. If it doesn’t have to be done, cross it off. If it’s a nice to have, get rid of it. If someone else can do it, delegate, or raise your hand and ask for help! Reduce your to-do list to the must have, must do, super critical items that are non-negotiable. Just seeing your smaller priority list will help you feel like you’ve accomplished something, and then you can make a big plan of attack to start working on these remaining items that are actually important.
Do Good Things for Your Body
Exercise, beat the heck out of a punching bag, drink more water and try to get good quality sleep. Taking charge of your own well-being is an empowering feeling and will help you feel more in control of your life.