time out

Self Improvement Thursday: Stress Less

Today on Self Improvement Thursday we're taking a little bit of time out to de-stress.  Still keeping it positive, just slowing the pace and looking for ways to chill a little.

At our house there's a sense that, midway through September and at the end of the third school term energy levels are a little low and blood pressure is a little high.  The man of the house has been working long hours and the parent at home (that would be me) has been doing the lion's share of the parenting.  I pride myself on being the calm voice of reason at our place but the cracks are starting to show and Mummy is getting a.little.bit.cranky.

I was in this cranky state yesterday when I read about some research that said that, rather than big and unfortunate life events causing mental health issues, it is often an accumulation of daily stresses that tips us over the edge - you know the kind of thing, running late for appointments, traffic, bills, listening to small people say, 'Muuuum' hundreds of times a day.

I'm a long way from a serious mental health issue - I think - but it was a timely reminder that if I stay strung out I won't do myself or the people who rely on me any good, particularly if we do happen to run into a real crisis.  If we're already stressed our ability to bounce back from additional stress is seriously compromised.

So in the interests of maintaining my resilience and knowing that daily life is inescapable most of the time, I had a think about - and put into action - my five top tips for de-stressing.  

Here they are:

  1. Rituals.  Engaging in little rituals that you associate with relaxation and time out can give your tired brain and emotional state a mini recharge.  For me it's a coffee around 11am and maybe - okay regularly - a glass of wine some time after 6pm.  It's not about what I'm drinking but about the ritual - taking a few minutes out for a bit of 'me' time, going through the same steps each time and letting everything calm down, just for a minute or two, before getting stuck back into the chaos. 
  2. Music. Last night, after herding one child through a swimming lesson and stopping the other from throwing everything he could get his hands on into the pool, I dragged us all into the car and switched the radio on to the opening chords of Let's Go Crazy by Prince.  Well didn't that turn my frown upside down.   Mid-80s electro rock may not be your bag but music is a well trodden (and researched) path to improving your mood. Switch it on. Turn it up.
  3. Sleep. Always easier said than done but it really is the best way to recharge, physically and emotionally.  We need good sleep to recover from the day, repair cells and improve immunity, process our memories and experience and give us the energy to get through the next day.  I take my sleep seriously (Hubby says I could sleep for Australia) and try to get eight hours a night but seven and a half hours is recommended for most adults.
  4. Socialise.  Make a phone call, have a text exchange, Skype or best yet, get out and chat with friends who make you feel good.
  5. Move on. Some days I just give myself permission to let everything slide.  So what if the kids had hot dogs for dinner again? In the words of Queen Elsa. let it go.  Tomorrow is another day.

What do you do for a mini recharge?