by Allison DeStefano, M.Ed, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Whether subtle or blaringly obvious, stress permeates into our lives all of the time. It can present itself in the form of a headache, or as a complete breakdown of the system. Sometimes we are too busy to even notice the small stresses creeping into our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to make the small changes that will impact us in the long run. Although there are many sources of stress, the one that everyone can relate to the most is the kind directly related to our daily grind.
If you’re like me, you spend your busy days daydreaming of a low-key, relaxed evening. In reality, you stumble blurry eyed to bed, mentally calculating all that you have left to do, and wake up the next day determined to tackle it all again. I used to be one of those people: the people that feel more successful if they are always busy and feel “me” time is wasted time and selfish. Previously, I would not hesitate to tout about how long of a workday I had during conversation with friends and brush off their surprise with an “all in a day’s work” shrug. Although beneath the surface I was mentally pulling my hair out, the next day I would wake up with the same “bring it on attitude” (for the most part), and absentmindedly sign up for another class, take another part-time job, and perpetuate the cycle. We don’t realize what we’ve done until we have one too many petty arguments with a loved one, fall asleep at our computer at 6:00 pm, or lie awake with a pounding heart and racing head in the wee hours of the morning. It’s then that we starting thinking, “Wow, what happened?”
So yes, what has happened? Why do we do this? Because we care. And because we care we constantly find ourselves in this pickle. We’re thinking about our families, our friends, our careers, our lives, and it is truly amazing the extent that we push ourselves every day. But when is enough enough? The truth is, it will never be enough; there will always be more ways to earn more money, more volunteer opportunities, or more extra-curricular activities to expand our repertoire of skills. By acknowledging this fact we can begin to put things in perspective and remember that what we have is already enough. We are doing ourselves a disservice by pushing ourselves over the edge.
So what do you do in a world where running on fumes is the norm? You put your foot down. You take a brief timeout and you start saying yes to yourself. It is very hard not to feel selfish for taking time for you, but by taking care of yourself you can be more present and open to others. You will begin to notice the change in how you feel when you wake up in the morning, the increased amount of patience you have with your children or spouse, the morning traffic, the amount of bills and paperwork you have littered across your counter. The best part is that the smallest acts of self-love can have a huge impact, so you can start this very moment.
Tomorrow is a new day, so begin there. Go to bed a little sooner, so you can have a few minutes of quiet time in the morning before the chaos begins. Enjoy a warm mug of tea and take some extra snuggle time with a pet. Turn off your electronics well before bed, and reflect on your day with a loved one. Soak in a hot bath for 10 minutes with your favorite gossip magazine. Even finding a quiet place to take some deep breaths for a couple of moments can do wonders. You are totally and completely worth it.
If you’re interested in more ways to naturally find your balance, register for my free class Alleviating Stress and Anxiety Naturally on Friday, February 26 from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm at the Tracy Memorial Library, New London, NH. Click here to register online.