Avoiding mental stress isn’t so easy when you’re balancing preparing for a big adventure with being the Chief Butt Wiper, Short Order Cook and Homework Task Master in charge. Not to mention any other work obligations you might have.
Like you, my life moves at a rapid fire pace every single day. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. So I’ve had to make a real effort to chill out and let some stuff go.
Here’s a quick recap of things I’ve been doing to minimize mental stress so I can kick ass on my cycling adventure.
1. Know when to take short cuts—Like this blog post, for instance. It was supposed to be a well thought out list of ways to minimize stress. But who has time for that! So I dialed back the pressure and decided to keep it short and sweet. Figure out where you can afford to take short cuts and give yourself permission to do it.
2. Avoid draining conversations—Negative people are everywhere. They’re at work, in the car pool line and probably even in your Book Club. Do your best to stay away from these energy vampires. Or stick your fingers in your ears and go “La, la, la, la, la.” That works, too.
3. Breathe deeply—Breathing exercises are a simple and super effective way to reduce stress and tap into that inner zen. It’s immediate, easy, portable and free. My favorite technique is Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4:7:8 method – — 4 seconds to inhale, 7 seconds to hold, and 8 seconds to exhale. Repeat several times until you feel yourself settle down or you’re no longer envisioning shoving your mother-in-law face first into the oven.
4. Pick your battles—The next time your little one uses a Sharpie to scribble satanic messages all over late Great Grandmother’s treasured tea towels, resist the urge to go all Joan Crawford-y on her. Pick your battles, preferably ones you actually stand a chance of winning. Yell less, smile more and maybe stock up on some bleach.
5. Get enough zzz’s—I don’t know about you, but I need a solid eight hours to keep my bitch switch in the off position. So I’ve been making sure to get to bed by 10:30. But more importantly, I’ve perfected the art of pretending to be in a deep vegetative state whenever the two year old wakes up in the middle of the night or the thirteen year old dog vomits. Do what it takes to get enough rest even if it means throwing your partner under the bed bus.
6. Take time for you—Let’s be real, if you have little kids you can’t even change a tampon without an audience. You barely have time to brush your teeth or your hair. So it’s hard to imagine how you could possibly have time to fit in self care. But try to find a few free minutes each day for activities that restore your energy, such as walking, reading a book or taking a bath. Light a few dust-rimmed candles, grab a warm cup of tea and go for broke. With any luck at all, your bath will prove to be more relaxing than mine.
7. Plug the drain—A lot of us do things in life that drain us because it’s part of our routine. One of the biggest things that saps my energy is media. Listening to a newscast is enough to bring me to my knees. It just depresses the hell out of me. So I don’t do it. Try tuning into what’s draining you. Are you spending too much time sitting in front of a screen? Said no Blogger ever.
8. Put other people to work—We’re not meant to do it all alone! If you hate cleaning or doing laundry and you’re struggling to keep up with it all, hire someone to do it for you. If that’s not possible, get your partner or kids to help out, especially while your prepping for your own big adventure. Um, isn’t that why we have kids in the first place? Put those industrious little people to work. Get some of the stuff you don’t like doing off of your plate. Instead, free up your energy to focus on the things that you enjoy.
9. Find the funny in it—A good laugh lifts you up and boosts your body’s feel-good endorphins. Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who has a hilariously inappropriate sense of humor. I think I know just the person!
10. Don’t overschedule yourself—Bwahahahaha! (See how easy it was to laugh?) Telling a busy mom not to overschedule herself is like dangling a gigantic lollipop in front of a toddler’s face and telling her not to lick it. Ain’t gonna happen!
There’s no doubt, it can feel overwhelming to physically prepare for an adventure when you’re already slammed with other life obligations. But limiting your exposure to mental stressors can go a long way towards keeping you energized and ready for anything.
This is the fourth post in a six part humor series called 40 Ways To Get Back in the Saddle. Follow the madness and get inspired to chase your own dreams! To start from the beginning, go here. Or read the next post in the series.