Restoring a Sense of Calm and Balance

Summertime, and the living is easy, right? Or so we’re told. But for many of us, this has been a more stressful time than usual. Tornadoes and wicked storms have been devastating many parts of the country, and watching scenes from Joplin last weekend made us all heartsick.  Tornadoes ripped through the town next to mine a few days ago, wreaking havoc on homes and businesses I visit all the time. Adding fears about how to protect your home and family from situations over which you have little control to an already high stress load can take a toll on your health. And while stress reduction is a theme we address often here, I think it makes sense to offer a few more tips for restoring a sense of calm and balance:

  1. Regain your sense of control. Some of the most common stressors are triggered by a sense that we’ve lost control of something. Beating yourself up over money worries, time management issues, poor eating habits, or work challenges can become habitual and contribute to poor self worth. Empower yourself by working on one challenge at a time, and forgive yourself for letting the other things slide. For example, if poor eating is an issue, write down what you plan to eat tomorrow (three healthy meals plus two snacks). Prep-make whatever you can the night before, and keep it simple. Tick off all the healthy things you’ve consumed as you move through your day, and praise yourself each time. Not having to think about food gives you a sense of freedom and the ability to focus on other tasks, and keeping your focus on one day at a time helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Claim at least 15 minutes for yourself every day. Schedule time on your calendar each day to do whatever you want – go for a walk, sit in a quiet spot to meditate, or grab a magazine and curl up in your favorite chair. Make sure everyone in the family knows you are “off the clock” for at least 15 minutes and expect no interruptions. Enjoying some daily “me time” is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself, and helps you get into the habit of making sure you get to be your number one priority at least once every day.
  3. Have sex! Way too many Americans who are married or in relationships don’t make time every day to reconnect with the person they love. Complaints of being too tired or too stressed out are common excuses people make – and then suddenly months and even years roll by without their having been intimate with their partners. This, of course, is not healthy and can add tension to a relationship. But couples who make regular sex a priority enjoy a host of health benefits – with stress reduction topping the list. Check out WebMD’s rundown of the top 10 health benefits here.

Remember that stress is something all of us have to live with. Learning how to manage stress instead of letting it manage you is key. Got great tips for managing stress? Share them with us by posting a comment!