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Healthy Ways To Handle Seasons of Stress


Are you going through a stressful season? Are you coping with the stress in not-so-healthy ways? You probably need to read this!

By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer

Are you in a busy or even difficult season of life? Are you looking for healthy ways to survive (and even thrive) during these days? Look no further for help!

Maybe, in full disclosure, I should first list all the unhealthy ways of dealing with stress. Because trust me, people, I’ve thoroughly experimented with these, too. These may include (but are not limited to) taking it out on your husband and kids, eating potato chips and snickerdoodles way into the night, and becoming an anxious wreck. Again, trust me. None of these help.

So what do you do during stressful seasons?

Right now I’m nursing a newborn, homeschooling a kindergartener, making virtually all our meals from scratch because of my son’s severe food allergies, and it’s my husband’s busy season of work, so many days it’s sunup to sundown with just me and the three kids. Of course, Christmas is approaching, and much as we try to keep it Jesus-centered, it’s still an extra load of teaching, cleaning, entertaining, special events, and buying a few gifts that mean something and aren’t a waste of money.

On paper, I realize these stresses are basically good things, and just life. I know many of you (and me, too) have faced struggles much more exhausting and stressful than these.

A few things do help. They may seem cliche or obvious, but think about each item as you read it. Are you doing it? Would it be helpful?

Here are a few thing that help me:

  • Understand your personality, and find small ways to meet your own needs. I’m interested (okay, maybe a tad obsessed) with the Myers-Briggs personality tests. I’m an ESTJ, and I’ve realized when I’m stressed, I need two things: people and structure. A very practical way this manifests itself is that during a busy season, I make time to see my friends, and I need to make some lists. That feeds me. What is your most basic need? Can you think of a small way to meet that need today?
  • Take a calming detox bath. After my emotional miscarriage, my mom had me take a lavender epsom salt bathHealthy Ways To Handle Seasons of Stress. It was amazing, and I took a few recently during my post-partum recovery.
  • Think of a quote that motivates you, and put it on your fridge. I recently shared the quote that’s keeping me motivated these days. Sometimes during chaotic seasons my fridge becomes littered with little snippets of inspiration.
  • Practice deep yoga breathing. I know, I know…how cliche can I get here?? But seriously, in moments when my toddlers are poking me, the house is a mess, I’m worried about my son’s health, etc. etc., taking ten slow deep breaths does calm me.
  • Use music in the home. My two favorite Pandora stations are Audrey Assad and “Lullaby Radio.”
  • Along these lines, if you play music or sing, do that. I have an old upright piano in the living room that unfortunately has been relegated to decorative uses more than function. Well, the other day I sat down and played a few hymns. It was amazing how the whole house calmed down. Drag out the old guitar, violin, etc, and play.
  • Enjoy a comforting food or drink. I’m not encouraging crazy unhealthy eating, but I think there is some value in “comfort foods.” There is truly scientific evidence of the positive way some foods impact the body. Bluntly put, stressful times may not be the time to embark on a rigorous diet. You may need to give yourself some temporary “nutritional grace,” if that’s such a thing.
  • Get outside.  Last night we had a record low in NC of 15 degrees. But guess what? The kids were still bundled up in the morning to enjoy a little sun.
  • Decide to let some responsibilities slide, and don’t beat yourself up with guilt over the rest. In this current busy season, here is what I do: breastfeed and care for a baby, home school my kids, and make homemade meals (I’ve started planning a whole month of real-food dinners at a time). Here is what I’ve let slide: working out, housekeeping, a rigorous schedule for my blog, and my appearance. As a good Southern girl, this one is killing me). But it’s just a season.

I’d love to hear from you. What helps you when you’re going through a stressful season?

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  1. I do a lot of the things on this list when I get stressed! Making a list of things that are priorities vs. things that aren’t is key for me during a busy season. I have an “I want to do it all” mentality, and during busy seasons, you have to just let some things go.

  2. A long hot shower, a cup of tea and a good biscuit always helps me. I am nursing a baby at the moment to and my little one goes to Kindy at the beginning of next year. Your doing a great job doing homeschooling, that’s hard work even when you are a teacher. I couldn’t do it. Well done.
    Julie (visiting from http://www.julieinthemaking.com

  3. I completely agree about learning to let things go. Although my youngest is 17, I remember the days of nursing a baby, taking care of an older child while still getting meals on the table and keeping the house sort of clean. These days I am just as busy (my 17 y/o has autism) and I have homeschool, karate, piano, transportation as well as part time work and the home to care for. Several things I’ve instituted is getting to bed a little earlier, taking a bath each night to unwind and getting up a tad earlier to read the Bible while having a relaxing mug of coffee.

  4. Great tips, Jessica! I think I need these all the time–not just during the holidays! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I love hearing how someone else is letting things go. I am also nursing a newborn, who is colicky so we get very little sleep, homeschooling a first grader and preschooler, and also making most meals from scratch. For some reason though I still have to fight the guilt each day that I am not doing enough. I constantly live in a “fight or flight” stress mode waiting for my three month old to start crying, and I have placed scriptures all over my house to remind me of God’s truths, which is probably my best stress reliever.

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