The Busy Girl's Guide to Stress Management {Simple Self-Care Part 5}

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The Busy Girl's Guide to Stress Management {Simple Self-Care Part 5}

We're all busy these days. Stop someone in the hallway at work, at church, or in the peanut butter aisle of the grocery store to ask them how they're doing, and there's about an 80% chance they'll tell you they're "busy."

But busy and self-care don't go together well. Neither do busy and rest. Or busy and presence. Do you know what busy does go along with? Stress.

And I don't know about you, but I want my life to be characterized more by self-care, rest, and presence than by busyness and stress. There's more than enough busyness in this world already; there's not enough presence or rest.

 

DIAGNOSING THE BUSYNESS BUG

The first step to managing our stress is recognizing where it's coming from-- our obsession with being busy. 

Now, you might think you don't want to be busy, that you are out of necessity because there simply isn't enough time in the day to get everything on your to-do list done. But may I gently push you toward a different perspective?

You and I are busy because we choose to be. Yes, there are some elements of our lives and busy schedules that are not entirely within (or at all within) our control, like the weather or traffic or the actions of others. However, generally speaking, the things on our schedules are things of our own choosing.

We chose our jobs and businesses. We decided how to spend our lunch breaks. We set our own alarms. We said "yes" to going to the art exhibit we didn't really want to see. We agreed to join the volleyball team even though we don't like volleyball. We slept in, knowing it would mean a more frazzled morning once we got up. We left the mess for later, the project for another date, and put off the appointment because we didn't want to deal with it right now, but we're still thinking about them.

We make countless decisions about how we're going to spend our time, and we fill our schedules to the brim because we continually say "yes." We like having full calendars because it makes us feel productive and useful. After all, that's what everyone else is doing, right?

What if I gave you permission to stop glorifying busyness? What if I told you that it's perfectly okay (and even desirable) to do less, but better?

 

PRIORITIZING

Because we all have limited time in our days, we're presented with the challenge of deciding what stays and what goes when we're staring at overstuffed, busy schedules.

What matters most to you? Is that reflected in your schedule? If you're like most people, your calendar is probably packed with things that aren't the most important to you, simply because they appeared urgent or necessary or because you were asked.

May I be the first to tell you that you don't have to say "yes" to every opportunity you're given? Whether it's a family obligation, an invitation from an old friend, a business opportunity, an invitation to attend a conference, or a simple coffee date, you do not have to say "yes."

It's wonderful to be given opportunities, but you only have so much time and energy to give! And you get to choose where you're going to invest them-- scattering your time and energy resources wide but not deep, or planting them deep and investing them in just a few key places.

Stress arises when we try to do too many things at once and feel overwhelmed. If we were to list out our priorities and schedule our lives accordingly, we would find greater peace in our lives and souls.

 

ELIMINATE SOMETHING

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes the easiest way to reduce our stress is to take something off our plates, at least for this season.

Whether we remove it by deciding it's not important enough to be addressed at all right now, or by delegating it to someone else, or by automating a process to streamline our approach, reducing our workload is one of the most efficient ways to reduce our stress levels.

Once you have declared your priorities, you can determine what projects, plans, and activities are going to stay on your plate and which aren't going to make the cut for right now. The beautiful thing is that you can change your mind later if you need to.

Need ideas for what you could eliminate? Allow me to suggest some that may or may not apply to you personally but could get your wheels turning:

  • making your food from scratch
  • getting to work fifteen minutes early
  • that pointless weekly meeting that an email could accomplish
  • running reports
  • that new social media platform (you're probably on enough already)
  • late night movies
  • your neighbor's cousin's graduation party
  • your magazine subscription
  • doing your own accounting (there are people who do that for a living)
  • manually posting all your social media content (there are apps for that)
  • answering all your own emails (there are virtual assistants for that)
  • planning fancy parties (or parties in general)
  • being in book club
  • running errands every day of the week (batch, girl, batch!)
  • meal planning
  • that new podcast everyone's listening to
  • keeping up with all the shows you want to watch
  • summer sports (coaching or playing)
  • lengthy summer bucket lists with too ambitious goals

 

TAKING BREAKS

Even when our lives are full of good things that matter to us, it can get to be too much sometimes (hello, fellow introverts!). 

No matter what things we're filling our calendars and our lives with, we as humans, can't run at high speed all day every day. We need rest. We need breaks.

When we try to work at our capacity twenty-four seven, we're not our best selves. That's when our stress kicks into overdrive because we're trying to do too many things at once.

To relieve our stress, we need to take breaks. While it would be nice to take a vacation every time we get stressed, that's not always feasible (and vacations can be plenty stressful in their own right!). 

What's more practical for our daily lives is to take small breaks throughout our day to rest and re-focus. 

When I'm feeling particularly stressed about a situation or problem, I'll bookmark it and walk away for a little bit, coming back to it when I've gotten the chance to clear my head, let off steam, think about something else, or consider a different perspective. 

Easy ways to take a little break in your day include (but by no means are limited to!):

 

CARVING OUT "ME" TIME

Whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, chances are, you need some time to yourself. 

It can be hard to manage, especially in the summer with all the parties and get-togethers, but solo time can help you rest and relax so you can be the best version of yourself for your people.

Because we can't control the actions or words of others, getting away from the noise and busyness can also be a form of self-care. When the voices of others (whether in real life or on the internet) get too loud and invasive, you can choose to take a break from them. You can excuse yourself to have a moment just to yourself.

The opinions and "shoulds" never stop, especially when it comes to social media. There's always someone saying something volatile, always someone else responding with just as much vitriol. And even when there are people saying good things, there's just too much to keep up with it all without experiencing some level of FOMO. 

But can I suggest a different way? What if we were to decide we're just unavailable to social media for a certain portion of our day or week? What if we chose to carve out time to quiet the external voices and tune into our own, to invest in deep soul care instead of curating our public persona?

I think we'd experience a greater level of peace because we're no longer competing with others. When we turn off the feeds and notifications, we just might find ourselves feeling less pressured to do things that weren't ours to do in the first place, and I think we'll even discover we're not missing anything at all.

In fact, I think we'll find something within ourselves that has been going unnoticed-- our own inner voice, our own passions and sense of purpose, and the soul space we need to relieve the stress of trying to do every single thing everyone else is doing.

 

EXPRESS GRATITUDE

Stress can steal our joy if we're not careful, and I think it's safe to say none of us want that for our lives.

The best way to combat that threat is to fight back with gratitude. It's incredibly difficult to feel stressed and resentful while giving thanks.

I'm not at all trying to diminish real struggles and challenges by saying you can escape them or overcome them simply by listing off things you're grateful for. But I am declaring that you can find greater joy in the midst of your difficult circumstances by reminding yourself that there are still good things in the world and in your life.

Giving thanks gives us perspective. It reminds us that we have indeed been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. And it helps us focus on the good instead of the bad-- and who couldn't use a little more of that?

To get you started on your own gratitude list, I thought I'd share some of mine:

  • more than enough food to eat
  • a car that gets me from Point A to Point B
  • air conditioning
  • electricity
  • Internet
  • ice packs
  • YouTube
  • sunshine
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • days at the lake
  • grace
  • forgiveness
  • mentors
  • best friends
  • tacos
  • cold water
  • community
  • my own bed
  • the stars
  • adorable kid laughter

And that's just from the last week. Some things are more serious and some are more trivial, but I'm grateful for them all! And taking a moment to write my list down forced me to think of all the positive things in my life, which is a great exercise if you haven't tried it yet!

How do YOU manage your stress? I'd love to hear if you have any tips or tricks, or if you found one of these particularly helpful! You can comment below, shoot me an email at jessie@notesfromjessie.com, or schedule a call to chat with me over the phone! I'd love to hear from you!

 

Later, lovely!Jessie (1).png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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