Managing Fall Stress
I love Fall. It’s my favorite time of year. But it also tends to be the season where I take on WAYYYY more than I should. Maybe the excitement of the cooler weather and pumpkin flavored everything just gets to my head and I begin to think I am some sort of super hero. But like clockwork, right around Thanksgiving, between mid-terms, my Pinterest monkey bread aspirations, and family visiting, I lose it. I realize I’m not excited about these things that I’ve been looking forward to all year. I’m worn out, wrung dry, and very irritable.
So, I’ve compiled a list of things that help keep me sane in busy seasons. I realize my list may be very different from yours, but I hope the takeaway is that everyone needs a list of go-to’s, preferably before you reach the stage that involves breathing into a paper bag or threatening to murder the next person who talks to you.
Plug into the Source
I will be the first to tell you that I am not a nice person by nature. Add a little stress to that mix and you’ve got yourself one cranky mama. When I wake up, I dedicate those first few minutes while Cyrus is still asleep to journal, read my Bible, and pray. There’s no formula or correct order. Just me plugging into my Source, getting my head on straight, and asking God for grace to make the most of the day ahead.
On any given day, I am a wife, mom, friend, student, photographer, volunteer, and blogger, which means my to-do lists are substantial. Matt and I decided to write out all of our weekly tasks, and from there, build a schedule that would work for both of us. We have this schedule printed on our fridge to help hold us accountable. I can look and see that right now, Matt is watching Cyrus while I work on school and/or blog. We even blocked time out for morning runs, date nights, sabbath, and personal time. According to Global Web Index, the average person spends over two hours per day on social media. Sometimes all it takes is getting organized to find those pockets of time that always seem to get sucked into a vortex.
Stop. Breathe. Stand Up. Walk Away.
Don’t think, just open the front door. Sit on the porch. Go for a walk or run. Run a bath with essential oils (before you change your mind). Break out your journal and write as fast as your fingers can scribble. Take a deep breathe. Put on some worship music. Do what you need to do to talk yourself off that cliff. Whatever it is you are stressing over, I promise five minutes or even an hour will not cause the world to explode.
Ask For Help
I’m really bad at this one, too. I HATE putting people out. It’s probably some deeply rooted insecurity that would take years of therapy to fully address. I realize often times, people genuinely want to help. My mom watches Cyrus two afternoons a week while I’m in class, and I have to constantly remind myself that she doesn’t see it as a burden, but a blessing to spend time with her only grandson. Vulnerability is the bond that makes relationships go deeper. Ask for help. Even when you think you can handle it on your own. We were not created to live lives of solitude.
It seems counterproductive to add more to your plate when you are already running on empty, but I couldn't leave this one out. We are often so busy focussing on our own goals and needs and to-do lists that we stop seeing other people who are struggling, too. Have someone over for coffee, pray for a stranger, make selfless acts a regular part of your day. Sometimes all it takes is removing the focus from yourself long enough for your own problems to no longer seem very consequential.
Count your Blessings, Literally
When I’m discouraged or anxious or overwhelmed, I make a thankful list. As many things as I can think of, I write them down: family, sunshine, my bed, cooler weather, central heat…the list is nearly endless, even in tougher seasons. It helps me shift my focus from the first world problems that so often consume my mind.
Focus on Being Present
I had this ugly realization one morning that so much of my time with Cyrus has been wasted stressing over the things I wasn’t currently able to do because I was watching him (horrible I know). What I have failed to realize is that those completely "unproductive" moments with him are the most important ones of the day. They are what carry me through the mundane, difficult, and un-fun stuff. Being present in the moment is a mental discipline that will absolutely change your outlook on life.
So, what are some of your go-to's for managing stress?