Today marks exactly one full month of blogging for me. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, so THANK YOU to everyone who’s subscribed to receive my posts via email, and for sticking around to see what else I have to say….I really and truly do appreciate that very, very much!
My first post went live on April 5th, and it was titled, “5 Things You Can Do To Feel Better Today! Today’s topic piggy-backs on that one, because, well considering that the past year and a half or so have been like no other I (or anyone of my generation and younger) have lived through, I think it’s very important to share some coping skills that work for me…..in the hopes that they’ll help you too!
I named this website Fiveish because my intention was (and still is) to post on the 5th (and any multiple of five) of each month, at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time (which is the time zone I’m in right now) and to share five pieces of advice, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, recommendations, reviews, etc.
But on April 5th at about 4:30 pm I realized I would not be making that first deadline of 5 pm that I had set for myself because I’m a dinosaur and learning my way around WordPress was taking me longer than I anticipated.
So I immediately felt that dreadful feeling of stress. And I let it take over my thoughts, but the I realized, “Hey wait a minute! NOBODY is expecting your post to launch at 5 pm EST. YOU are putting this pressure on your SELF!”
So I turned my thoughts around, refocused on the task at hand and launched my first post at 5 pm…..Pacific Standard Time.
I’d like to say at this point….we all experience different stressors in our lives. What might seem like a minor stressor to you or me is something very huge in someone else’ life. This isn’t a competition.
So let’s get into it…..Five Easy Ways to Reduce Everyday Stress…
- Express your gratitude. I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, you feel stressed, yet you need to be grateful? Yes, you do. You really, really do.
Research reveals gratitude can help you sleep better, it can improve your self-esteem, it can help you be more empathetic, it improves physical and psychological health and it can open the door to better relationships.
I mentioned this in my first post, April 5th, but it’s worth mentioning again. About a month and a half ago, I stumbled upon the “Presently” app, which I absolutely love.
Every night at 9 pm I get a reminder to make note in the app, of what I am grateful for “today”, and I really appreciate that reminder as I have a horrible memory.
This app, and the simple action of expressing my gratitude, makes me aware that I’m very fortunate and it reminds me (by default) to not take things for granted.
For instance, “I’m grateful to have woken up this morning” (many people are not so fortunate, especially now, with COVID dominating our lives). Or, as another example, “I had a fantastic lunch today” (some people don’t know where their next meal is coming from). Or perhaps “I had a shower today” (some people pray for such a luxury).
You can make the entry as long or short as you like and (so far) there are no ads. I highly recommend this (free) app.
2. Keep a journal. You don’t have to express your gratitude in an app, you can write it in a journal, along with any other thoughts or feelings you’re feeling.
I’m imagining that I’ve now lost some of you….”write”, what does that mean? haha I had this discussion with my older niece the other day….apparently, they don’t teach writing, like with pen and paper, anymore in school.
Ok, so if you don’t know how to write, you can use your mobile device to make notes, right? Use that as your journal.
Whether you keep a paper journal, or one on your mobile device, I feel it’s important to do so. It’s not healthy to keep our feelings, good or bad, bottled up.
Also, re-reading our journals years later, we realize that what we thought was “bad” was actually something that had to happen in that time, that it taught us a lesson, and made us who we are today.
3. Change your expectations. I know, easier said than done. This is something I have to keep reminding myself of too.
I’m the oldest child of immigrant parents, and an Aries, which is like a double whammy when it comes to expectations.
If you believe in birth order, typically the first born is responsible, confident, and conscientious. Great traits to have….but also stressful! I feel like if I do something irresponsible, or if I show lack of confidence, or I do something wrong, or if I’m simply just having an off day, that I’ll be judged.
Couple that with being an Aries…Aries women are typically “confident, fiery, bold, spontaneous and independent.”
Again, these sound like fine traits, but again, very stressful! Some days I don’t feel like being confident, fiery, bold, spontaneous or independent. Some days I just want to stay in bed and snuggle with my dog and cat.
So, I feel like I’ve inherited those expectations, add to that the expectations I have of myself and I could easily become overwhelmed. Truth be told, when I was younger, I often DID feel overwhelmed. But with age comes wisdom and I’ve learned that if I adjust my expectations, I feel less stressed. I can’t control other peoples’ expectations of me, but I can control my own expectations.
Life is already stressful enough, stop putting undue pressure on yourself, it’s not doing you any good!
4. Get outside. We’re under yet another lock down here in Ontario, so we’re limited to where we can go, but we CAN go outside.
I love starting my day with a “sniffy walk” with my dog, Tia. I let her sniff anywhere her little nose desires, I don’t rush her, I go at her pace. When it’s raining (Tia’s a Chihuahua, and they don’t “do” rain), and especially when we have several days back-to-back of rain, I can feel my stress level increasing.
I try to go for a walk almost every day. I RARELY see other people. Which boggles my mind!! I live in a residential suburb so where is everyone?? Ok, maybe in the morning, you might think people are not awake yet, or they’re working, but even in the evening time, after dinner when I take Tia for another walk around the block, still, rarely do I see other people out walking.
Walking is SO good for us, it’s free, it’s easy, and you can do it anywhere!
A few benefits of going for a walk outdoors:
- it will improve your mood
- you’ll look healthier, which in turn will make you FEEL healthier
- you’ll increase your Vitamin D levels
- you’ll improve your concentration
- your stress level will drop
For a “real walk”, I like to go for a two-hour walk. I actually suffer from having plantar fasciitis, but I refuse to let that slow me down. If I take Tia with me on these longer walks, I pay attention to when she starts showing signs of fatigue and then I carry her.
I love feeling the fresh air fill my lungs. I love feeling the wind in my hair. I love hearing the various bird songs. I love spotting wild animals (this past winter, my favorite wild animal spotting was fox….I saw three different foxes on three different walks)….of course, I respect that they’re wild and I keep my distance and I don’t provoke them.
Our bodies weren’t made to be as sedentary as we’ve become, generally speaking, as a society. Our bodies were designed to move. And walking is something that almost everyone can do. If you’re not used to it, sure, it can be challenging, but that can be said for everything. Start slow and easy.
If you’ve got health issues, of course you should speak with your family doctor.
I’m not a medical professional, I’m just a middle-aged woman who is GRATEFUL that I have two legs that can carry me on a two-hour walk. I’m GRATEFUL for having a pair of strong lungs that keep oxygen pumping through my body. I’m GRATEFUL to have eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, all that Mother Nature has to offer to me.
If possible, go for a walk in nature. It’s very hard to be stressed when you’re surrounded by nature.
5. Sleep. Maybe this seems like an avoidance tactic, rather than dealing with stress, but it’s not. Our lives are so stressful, we can easily let ourselves become engulfed in the stresses of everyday living and feel like we HAVE to give our 100% every single day. We in fact do not. Give yourself a break! Have a really, really good sleep!
Having a good sleep is SO important. Did you know that our bodies do a detox when we sleep? Sleep detox is the removal of waste and toxins from the body.
By removing these waste products, your brain functions more clearly and without the “fogginess” you may experience when you’re tired.
By flushing out these toxins, you are allowing the free flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to parts of the body that need them.
As you sleep, another detox activity is hormone release. Hormones released during sleep lead to slow breathing and muscle relaxation resulting in reduced inflammation. Lack of sleep raises levels of inflammation and makes it harder for the body to detox.
Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep every night will help you function more effectively the next day and will allow your body to detox its way to optimal health behind the scenes.
Another important change that you might need to make, in order to get a really good sleep, is to eliminate electronics from the bedroom. That means no TV. No computer. No handheld devices.
Blue light is harmful to our eyes. The blue light emitted by a cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm). This makes it even more difficult to fall asleep and wake up the next day.
This is even more important if you have children because using screens can affect how quickly your child falls asleep and how long your child sleeps. This happens for a couple of reasons: screen use in the hour before bed can stimulate your child and blue light from televisions, computer screens, phones and tablets might suppress melatonin levels and delay sleepiness.
If you use your phone alarm to wake you up, simply place your phone face-down, at least three feet (one meter) away from your bed.
And there you have it…..five ways to deal with everyday stress. Why not give them a try? What have you got to lose? It can’t hurt, right?
We are all dealing with stress and all have different coping strategies. I’m not saying my advice is the be-all and end-all, it certainly isn’t, but my intention here is to help someone if I at all can.
Thank you so much for giving me fiveish minutes of your day today!
I sincerely hope you’ve found some value in this!
Feel free to share your coping strategies in the Comments area!
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