Ok, so I know many people who know me think I’m a super relaxed person who doesn’t stress out much. But I have my days!
The week when my girls went back to school after the summer hols was a case in point. I had to order and label materials, continue doing my freelance work and housework, attend meetings, wash and iron specific clothes for school, sew buttons on the school uniform, organize snacks, etc.
With this never-ending to-do list, I felt not only overwhelmed but also stressed. So, what I did was I implemented some of my favourite anti-stress strategies:
1. Thinking outside the box
This is quite a new one for me because I’m quite a fixed plan person, but I’ve recently learnt that when I get anxious about something, it works to think around things.
So, for instance, when my eldest’s teacher asked the parents to buy a certain type of pencil case at the beginning of the year, and it didn’t arrive on time, my first reaction was to stress out.
But then I thought “What’s the problem? She’ll just use the other one she has in the meantime and when the other comes we’ll replace it.”
The same happened with the labels I had ordered to put on her school stationary and books. I had ordered them a few weeks before but they also didn’t arrive on time, so I had to write her name on the stationary and then when the labels arrived I just stuck them on top.
2 – Writing things down
This strategy has been an absolute godsend. I discovered that writing my tasks, schedules, thoughts and feelings really helps me process all the stuff going round in my mind.
The reason this helps me destress is that the moment I have things written, I either let go of them in my mind or they simply become more clear and organized and I feel like a weight has been lifted off me.
3- Getting things done efficiently
By this I mean I write checklists and schedules, and then I try to go through them methodically, focusing on one task at a time. This helps me not to get flustered by trying to do ten things at once.
Now there are certain things that I might combine to save time (for example, listening to voice notes on WhatsApp while I’m cleaning) but there’s a fine line between combining things my mind can deal with, and trying to do two things at once and doing neither well. So, I try to do most things one at a time.
4- Getting enough sleep
This is ironic because I have more difficulty sleeping when I’m under stress, but I have found that the less sleep I have, the more stressed I get.
So what I do is that I plan to go to bed at a reasonable hour and then I do things that help me switch off before bed, like reading and writing things down.
5 – Turning off my phone
This really does work wonders for me. The more I’m switched on to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, etc. the more I feel overwhelmed by the information overload. I need time to process everything!
So, I switch off my phone and computer for set periods of time during the day. Another thing I do is I switch off technology at least half an hour before bed and I keep it turned off for the first two or three hours when I’m awake in the morning.
6 – Being in nature
The thing about being stressed is not just that I have a lot to do, it’s more that I have too much going round in my mind. When I take a few minutes to rest, switch off and tune into nature, I notice that I start thinking more clearly and efficiently.
When I say being in nature, I mean being mindful and really observing it, not sitting on a bench answering messages and emails!
So what I do to implement this is that I take my children to our local park and I go without my phone. But I do sometimes take my notebook and pen so I can jot down ideas or anything else that might come to mind.
I’ve always loved books, and it’s always been one of my favourite ways to unwind and decompress. As a young mum, I didn’t read as much as I would have liked because I just didn’t have the time or the mental capacity.
But now, as a mum to two pre-schoolers and a seven-year-old, I read a lot more. My current reading routine is to read for about 25 minutes in bed before turning the lights out, and in the morning I read my devotionals and the Bible for the same amount of time.
I also listen to audio books while cooking and cleaning.
So these are the strategies that have been working for me! What strategies do you use to help you destress? Let me know in the comments. 🙂