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 bath. 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?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!