Just for kicks and giggles, I decided to see how many different types of journals I could come up with that a person could keep. There is a lot of benefit to be had from keeping a journal – the regular type. I’d imagine that you could get a lot of benefit from many of these. This is my complete list. Do you have any additions? If so, feel free to add them in the comments.
- Time capsule
- Dream journal
- Exercise journal
- Response to specific event (i.e., birth, marriage, disaster)
- Meditation or spiritual
- Thematic (i.e., on a theme such as values, topics you’re studying, et cetera)
The holidays are here, whether we are ready or not. It seems like the year just started, but it is almost over. The holidays, while they can be wonderful, are tremendously stressful. Don’t let them be – there are things that you can do to put the joy back in the holidays and keep your sanity.
NOTE: I also want to say at the outset that if you suffer from depression, please talk to someone – a friend, a family member, a coworker, or anyone that you trust.
- Eat healthy meals before going to parties.
- Moderate your caffeine and alcohol intake – too much of either will leave you feeling bad later, and also dehydrate you.
- Get enough sleep. Go to bed earlier than normal at least once a week.
- Evaluate any “obligations” that you are facing. Just because you have done something in the past doesn’t mean you have to continue.
- Family can be stressful. It is important to spend time with people that you ENJOY, family or not. Also, recognize that old patterns reappear under stress, so be aware of that in interactions with family.
- Say “No” – and mean it. Remember that NO can be a complete sentence – you don’t have to explain.
- Take short breaks to fit in a walk or other forms of exercise. Not only will it help with possible weight gain over the holiday, it is an excellent stress reliever.
- Watch how much you spend, to avoid making the start of the new year a more stressful one.
- Make sure your routine stays the same, or as close as possible. Keeping a regular routine makes rest/sleep easier, and also helps keep you in balance.
- If you have stress management techniques that you use in other circumstances, pull them out and use them. Find what works for you and stick with it!
- Prioritize. Look at your activities and do what is most important to you. Don’t worry if less important things don’t get done.
- Take a time out for yourself – away from noise, stimulation, and things that need to be done. They will still be there in five, ten, fifteen minutes.
- Relax and be present in the moment – not worrying about the future, not worrying about what happened in the past. Enjoy the family around you. Enjoy the smells of the holiday. Enjoy the sounds of the holiday.
- Simplify. Cut your to-do list in half. Send fewer cards. Exchange fewer gifts. Say NO to a few occasions.
- Stay flexible; things can change at the drop of a hat so be ready to change.
- If you have too much to do, delegate. Ask for help from those around you. You do the best you can; remember that.
- Don’t bake six types of cookies if two will do!
- Laugh. Hang on to your sense of humor and take care of it. Look for the funny in life – there is plenty of it out there. Find some funny websites and look at them first thing in the morning, or any time you need a giggle.
- Let go of the “ideal” Christmas and enjoy the one around you.
- Do non-materialistic things with friends and family.
- Be aware of your breaking point and step back before you reach it. Step away and take a break. Avoid those things that push you close to your breaking point, even if it is family. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Chose your battles; ask yourself, “Is this worth a fight?”
- Keep expectations realistic. Don’t look for a Brady Bunch Christmas if your family tends to be more boisterous.
If you get stressed, stop and ask yourself, “Is it worth this? Am I doing this to myself? Is there something that I can do to make this fun again?”
Falling temperatures and falling leaves
Crisp evenings and wrapping up in soft blankets
Hot coffee on cool mornings
Sweet children cute winter clothes
Pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin spice donuts
Toasty blankets on the bed and no heat to dry out my skin
Walking through crunchy leaves
Gathering with family and friends to be grateful for all that we have and those around us
Football and walks
Apples and pears (oh you have to try Honeycrisp apples!)
Fall carnivals and hot apple cider
Halloween kiddies and lots of candy
School and school activities
Soups and stews and hot, fresh bread
Pumpkin patches and hayrides
Scarves and jackets, drives to look at leaves
Burning candles and holding hands
Chili and cornbread
Crackling fires and toasted marshmallows
Life is stressful and complicated – I am fairly certain that we can all agree on that. Many families either have two parents working or are single-parent homes. Add to that schedules for children that require families to be in multiple places at the same time and you find stress – how to feed the family, be involved with both children, work, get laundry done, and so on. Other stresses for people with or without children include travel for work, long work hours, having to work holidays, not being able to make ends meet, committing to too many things, not having enough time, eating poorly, inability to accept things as they are, and failure to take time to relax. Of course, those just scratch the surface. I am a mother of two, one of whom has a chronic illness that she will never grow out of, a lifelong situation that has changed her life and those of me and the rest of the family. We face the stresses of changes in her condition, hospital stays, lots and lots of doctor visits of various types, and the fact that even simple things like having her teeth examined by a dentist are complicated. That doesn’t even begin to describe the stress of trying to make sure that our son, who doesn’t have health issues, doesn’t feel neglected. Stressors abound.
In view of all this, I have been trying to find ways to de-stress, lessen my anxiety, and take care of myself. I want to be a better worker (I work part time), better spouse, and better mother. I have found that to be impossible as long as I am stressed to the max, anxious alm0st all time time, and beginning to see physical side effects of stress. Here are a list of things that I have tried and found help me. Some or all of them may appeal to you. I hope that at least some of them will help you as well.
- Soak your feet in hot water and Epsom salts. I use about one cup of Epsom salts in a dishpan that I use specifically for soaking my feet (purchased on Amazon, but can probably be found at Wal-Mart or Target). I make the water fairly hot and soak for 10 minutes or so. Then put moisturizer on your feet and cover with stocks. I highly recommend this an hour or so before bed – it even helps me sleep.
- Solitude. Sometimes you just need a brief break – some quiet to either contemplate the situation or to not think about it at all. As I mentioned earlier, I have two delightful, wonderful children – one of whom is very chatty. Sometimes I just need a few minutes of quiet to gather my thoughts. In my experience, I have less stressful days when I can have 15-20 minutes of time to myself.
- Fifteen minutes to yourself when you get home. I highly recommend taking fifteen minutes or so when you get home to sit in a quiet place and unwind. Ask your children to give you a few minutes before asking you anything – or go in your room and shut the door. Let them know it will just be a short time. Read for a few minutes, rock in a rocking chair, crochet, write, or whatever else helps you relax. If just sitting helps, by all means sit and be still.
- Keep a journal. Write out the good things, as well as the bad. You can look back at the good memories on days you need something to perk you up. Also, seeing what you’ve overcome can help as well. In addition, sometimes writing out a problem can help you see things more clearly. Remember, there is no rule that says you have to keep any or all of your journal. If you feel better burning, shredding, or otherwise disposing of what you’ve written, then do so.
- Be sure to get enough sleep. At least once a week, go to bed at earlier than normal to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try getting more exercise. If that doesn’t work, talk to a doctor or look into other methods of getting help with sleep problems.
- Clear some clutter. Believe it or not, by organizing, you will make yourself feel better. Clutter is a source of stress. When you cannot find something, you get frustrated and worried, especially if it is something like car keys or cell phones. It results in time spent looking for things rather than being productive.
- Five things to give up:
- People pleasing
- Negative self-talk
- The need to be right
- Running from things you fear
- Exercise a little every day. There are some creative ways to work exercise into your day; do some research on Google. Even 20 minutes a day is a big help, and may help you sleep better too!
- Make a humor file – collect articles from magazines or newspapers, comic strips, pictures, etc. – anything that makes you laugh or smile. Pull it out on tough days.
- Read, read, read. Sometimes curling up with a good book, whether it is fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, book, magazine, or whatever, is a great escape for a while – long enough to relax and unwind a bit.
- Practice gratitude. If you are feeling stressed or depressed, sit down and make a list of five things that you are grateful for; it doesn’t matter what it is. Start small: a flower, the breeze, waking up this morning, the tree outside your window, the sunset.
- Cut back on junk food, caffeine, and sugar. Don’t overuse alcohol.
- When stressed, focus on what you can control – and stop worrying about the things that you can’t. Keep telling yourself to do that until it gets to be a habit. Worrying about things you cannot change won’t change things, won’t make them better – but it can make your stress worse and make you sick.
- Replace negative self-talk with positive. This can be something along the lines of using positive affirmations. Reframe the negative things you tell yourself. For example, if you think something like, “I can’t do this,” rephrase it to: “I’m not sure how to do this yet, but I will learn.”
- Cut back on electronics and media. Keeping up with world happenings is a good thing overall, but it is negative in general. Bad news sells papers. Cut back on the amount of time you spend on computer, playing games, reading the news, following the news stories. Spend more time with family, reading, exercising, or doing a hobby.
- Take up a hobby – speaking of hobbies! Learn something new or pick up something you’ve been doing already. Crochetcan be very relaxing – and yes, men crochet or knit too…
- On Being a Man Who Knits
- No Yarn: Charity Does Good With Stitch In Time
- Meet the Soldier Who Learned to Crochet In Afghanistan
- Try meditation. Start small – mediate for five minutes. Keep practicing – it takes time to build up but any amount should help your stress levels.
- Take an online course and stretch yourself.
- Do something nice for someone.
- Stop trying to be someone else, for someone else – or trying to live your life to please someone else. Be yourself – live your values and your interests and follow your dreams. You’ll find that relieves a LOT of stress.
- Sit on the back porch and enjoy your favorite beverage as the sun rises or sets. Enjoy the sounds of nature.
- Practice healthy breathing – many people don’t breathe correctly and stress can affect breathing as well.
- Learn to acknowledge all of your feelings – including the negative ones, like anger and jealousy. Recognize when you are feeling them, explore why you are feeling them, and acknowledge them. Then let them go.
- Cry – let it all out. Sometimes you just need to vent and let out some of your internal pressure. It is a way of releasing pressure and stress.
- Make a list of activities that you enjoy doing – and do one.
- Say no to something that you really don’t want to do, or say no if you don’t have enough energy to commit to something else. Forget what other people say or think – this is for your own well-being.
- Stop watching TV and read instead.
- Set your own goals and get away from living by someone else’s rules and goals for you.
- Determine your core values and make sure your job and your lifestyle are aligned with them. When they aren’t in agreement, there is a disconnect and it can be very stressful.
- Develop coping strategies. Sources of help include:
- Common Coping Responses for Stress
- Stress Management
- 101 Ways to Cope With Stress
Sources of information:
Clear Clutter Out of Your Life
Why Mess Causes Stress