Do you ever set goals, only to find that life gets in the way?
My life has been like that recently. It wasn’t like anything major happened, just a lot of little things adding up to make me feel stressed, rushed, and out of control. And when I can’t control stress, things unravel fast!
As a mom or a dad, life can get like that, can’t it? Being a parent is SO HARD and being a good one is even more difficult!
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Add to that all the other things. Like work responsibilities, after-school activities, homework, volunteer work, and housework, by the end of each day, you are COMPLETELY drained! At least that’s the way I get.
And The Stress Keeps Piling Up
Most weeks, when Friday night rolls around, I’m almost in a zombie-like state, and that’s in a normal week. This week, I also had to help my daughter with a scholarship application, teach karate classes, and teach a youth class at church.
My husband has been working super long days this week, so he’s exhausted too, and that has left me with more of the farm work than normal. None of these activities is a problem, and I do enjoy them, but having them piled into one week was almost too much.
I could feel myself panicking as soon as I realized everything I had to do for the week! Yes, I know it’s dumb, but when I see a super-packed schedule, my anxiety skyrockets! I start dreading the week ahead, which is no way to go through life.
Looking back on the week, what were some ways I was able to control my stress? Also, what were some strategies that I SHOULD have been using to reduce my stress, but didn’t? Since it’s now the weekend, and I’ve been able to take a breath, I decided to make a list of five guaranteed ways to help you control stress…
1. Talk About It
Everyone needs a sounding board, someone to talk to about your stress. Sometimes you just need to vent. But at other times you need someone to listen and offer helpful advice.
My colleagues are great resources for venting and for good advice. They have dealt with the same struggles, and are wonderful to have when you just need someone to say, “I hear ya!”
Or maybe they’ve had success handling difficult situations in ways I’ve never even thought of before. I am so thankful for all of my work friends. They are there to listen and to help whenever I need them!
Family and Friends Can Help
My family members are also excellent listeners when I feel stressed. They are very good at listening while I vent, and they are also invaluable when I need advice. One great thing about my family (and probably yours too), they are not afraid to tell me something I don’t enjoy hearing.
My family knows me so well. They can tell when I’m starting to crack under pressure, and they call me out for it super fast! They can do this before I’ve even told them I’m stressed.
2. Focus on the Present
When I’m feeling overwhelmed I start to have a totally negative attitude! I start thinking about all I have to do and what will happen if I’m unsuccessful. Then I start worrying that I will forget something important.
I know I’m not alone in this cycle of worry. A simple search of quotes about worry turned up 55,400,000 results! OVER 55 MILLION! People are worrying so much, that they “worry” about being worried. That’s crazy, but I think it is true for many of us today.
One method I use to control my stress is to focus on the present. I block everything else out, breathe and focus on the task at hand. If I focus on the class I’m teaching at the moment, or the housework I’m doing right now, I can almost forget about ALL the other tasks on my to-do list.
With this method, I find it much easier to complete what I’m doing and then move on to the next step. Seeing too much into the future MAJORLY stresses me out! But taking each day, each hour, or even each task one at a time is the best way for me to manage my feelings of overwhelm.
3. Exercise to Control Stress
When your schedule is jam-packed, and you don’t have minutes, let alone hours, to spare, exercise can be the furthest thing from your mind. But, we’ve all heard the research that exercise will help you control stress.
You Gotta Sweat!
I know from personal experience that my body and my mind feel TONS better after a good workout! One of the many reasons my family has stuck with Martial Arts for 9 years is the euphoria we gain after a great sweat session!
For those extra-busy days, you may only have 5 minutes downtime sprinkled throughout the day. If you could use 3-4 of those spare moments for a brisk walk, some stretching, or a dance session to your favorite jams, then you’ve at least spent 15-20 minutes on exercise throughout the day. Your body and your mind will thank you later.
The struggle is real with this one. I’m HORRIBLE at delegating tasks to other people! I see a long list before me and try to do it all myself. Then I get overwhelmed when I realize there’s no way I can be in 3 places at once.
It’s not that I don’t want or know that I need help, it’s just that I forget to ask. My tunnel vision kicks in, I get to work, and my brain goes into autopilot. Checking off my tasks one by one, as my body and sanity slowly decline.
NEWS FLASH- nobody expects you to do everything!
You have so many people in your corner to help when times get tough. I was venting to my husband a few days ago, telling him how I had to teach another karate class and help our daughter finish her scholarship application the next day. I didn’t know how in the world I was going to do both, so I was beginning to panic.
Well, he interrupted mid-rant to let me know he would teach karate for me! Hearing that was such a relief because I could now focus on helping our daughter. I no longer felt pulled in 2 different directions. When you’re overwhelmed, ask for help!
5. Practice Self-Care
Those major feelings that come with being overwhelmed; stress, anxiety, and exhaustion, they are all signals that you need a break. Even when you’re extremely busy, you must take care of yourself. A little downtime and rest are essential for your mental and physical health!
This is another one that’s difficult for me to follow. I’m working on recognizing the signals and taking care of myself when needed. But I’m a work in progress in this area. (Aren’t we all?)
Some of the self-care strategies I practice are:
Rest- Winding down before bed, reading a good book, and going to sleep earlier all help me get better rest.
Prayer- I always feel better after I pray. Pouring my heart out to The One who cares the most makes my day go so much better.
Check out these prayer resources from The Daily Grace Co!
Breathing- My time in Martial Arts has taught me the importance of breathing for our mental and physical health. A few slow, deep breaths lower the heart-rate and calm the body. When time allows, a few minutes of controlled breathing exercises allow for even more benefits!
How Do You Control Stress?
Now that you’ve read the five strategies I use to control stress, I hope that you’ve found some of my tips useful to help you control your stress.
I’d love to hear what works for you. What are some techniques you use to control stress? Please message me or comment below. I’m always ready to learn more ways to manage the insanity we call life!