How I Like to Manage Stress

How I Like To Manage Stress

Stress never goes away. Every single one of us will encounter stress on a regular basis. Since we can’t completely exterminate it, we have to learn to embrace and manage stress instead.

For me, the first four months of this year have been a little more stressful than normal. Surprisingly, I have felt happier than ever though!  It could be that most of my stress is from good things. But even more than that, I feel happy because of my attitude and priorities.

I made a commitment to enjoy and savor every moment of my wedding planning process (or as much as I can).

I made a commitment to put managing stress as top priority.

I think the first commitment is pretty self explanatory. Everyone wants to remember the little things leading up to their big day, as well as the day itself. I also wanted to celebrate with my fiancé on a regular basis. We had already made a commitment to each other by staying in the relationship for so long (going on 7 years), but are solidifying it by getting married. And it has been SO COOL to see how excited we both have been throughout these past several months.

The second commitment is a little more of a challenge. I think stress reduction and management tips are so individualized. What works for me may not work for you. And believe me, I have tried several things I thought would work because it worked for a health guru, but it left me feeling more stressed. Go figure! So, even though I am sharing a few tips that work for me I encourage you to experiment. Find what works best for you!

You can always try a class at the gym or maybe go for a walk solo. Sometimes your health insurance will even help you get going.For example, Oscar Health Insurance in New York and New Jersey gives their members free Misfit activity bands for tracking their steps and also offers reimbursements for gym and yoga studio memberships. I was asked by Oscar Health Insurance how I manage stress and after I responded I kept thinking… this would make a great blog post! So my props goes to them for this post.

Another thing I want to note before I get to my list is that trying to be perfect with stress management can backfire. Did you read that? It can cause more stress. I once set a goal to meditate every day for 15 minutes per day. I also had a misguided perception that this meant the 15 minutes had to be me in a dark room sitting cross-legged with light music and a candle. I had to focus on my breath and keep my mind calm. That didn’t last long for me. It wasn’t until I realized that meditation can be done in SO MANY WAYS that I could experiment and find different ways to meditate and kick my stupid goal to the curb. That was a goal that I ended up more stressed out over because I found myself not always wanting to sit in a dark room. Sometimes I wanted to get outside and move a little. Well strike the harp… moving meditation works! And is way more me.

Let’s get to it… here is my list of stress management techniques that work for me:

  1. Moving Meditation. Some days this looks like a 20 minute yoga session at home (usually with Yoga with Adriene or Tara Stiles with Strala Yoga.) Other days this looks like a 30-50 minute walk outdoors. When I walk outdoors, I always use my Ipod. I LOVE MUSIC! And you know what? Music can ease stress too.
  2. Putting the phone down before bed and reading a book or magazine. Oh man oh man, if I had a dime for every time I thought I could look at my phone before bed and sleep well I would be rich. I know the lesson, but don’t always follow it. However, when I do follow it I sleep like a baby. Not looking at the phone before bed is a game changer for stress reduction and improved sleep! No lie. So here’s to finding more books to read (as long as it isn’t a page turner that keeps me up too late). J
  3. Listening to a guided meditation. I have tried a few different guided meditations and I always turn to the ones from Deepak and Oprah. I love them! I have two: Desire and Destiny and then Perfect Health. I love listening to these every so often (~3 days per week) while on one of my outdoor walks. It is a 21 day guided meditation, but I don’t follow the days. I press shuffle!
  4. Bubble Bath, Tea, or Hot Tub. What do all of these have in common? HEAT! I love hot things… I know, that may sound weird, but I am in Texas after all. Plus, heat really does calm the body and ease the mind. I tend to grab a cup of hot tea, hot water with lemon, or a café misto during the day. If I really need to relax at the end of the day I will take a bubble bath. We also recently got a hot tub so sometimes I will choose that. Both are so soothing!

Now it is your turn, what works best for you?

Let Music Move You!

running playlist

I haven’t ran a single mile in over a week and half.   But, yet I am “training for a half marathon.”  Feeling kinda guilty, I decided today was the day to get back with the program.

My excuse was the flu and cold weather.  I let the flu run its course and then only did indoor workouts with this nappy weather, leaving running by the wayside.  And I NEVER run on  treadmill… can’t stand it.  My number 1 rule to physical activity is don’t do something you hate.  If you hate it, you won’t keep it up.  Find activities you actually like.

Today was the day to get back on my training program.  My training program consists of running 3 times per week.  This week’s schedule is 2 days of 5 milers and 1 day of a  7 miler.  THAT alone was frightening me.  I feared the pavement this morning, thinking that there was no way I was going to be able to do 5 miles after not running for a week and half.  Isn’t it funny how crazy our minds can blow things out of proportion?  I mean, some people rarely run and can go for 10 miles.  But, not this girl.

I needed to get my motivation up.  I needed to start turning my fear around and think positively.  I decided I would give my run 30 minutes.  If I wanted to keep going after 30 minutes, I could.  If I didn’t, no worries.  And I got a kick-butt playlist.  I am all about good music!  And of course, “good” is subjective.  You may or may not like my taste, but some of the songs that got me moving today are in the picture up top.

I left for my run and went 43 minutes.  Look at me go!  I did 4 miles.. and you know what?  I feel great about it.  The fear of starting up again is gone.  This weekend I can tackle a longer run with no qualms and GREAT music.  Whenever you fear the unknown or just need extra motivation, let the music move you.  And turn any negative feelings around.  Stay positive. It works!