Life can get a little out of hand sometimes. I realized this past year that it’s not really about how much I have to do in a day that stresses me out – I have three kids, a job, and a busy personal life, but so do we all! – it’s the way our bodies compute it all that makes the difference on whether we’re stressed out or not.
It’s been two weeks since I’ve been able to work out. I recently fell on the ice and hurt my back badly and it’s impaired me from my daily activities and doing the things that help me relieve all that stress. I never take a minute to slow down and these past few weeks have forced me to take a step back, take a deep breath and find new ways to shift and recalibrate. The truth is, I’ve learned how to enjoy every moment (as much as possible), because life is always happening, and I’ve chosen to be present through it all rather than get caught up in the stress.
I wasn’t always this way. Between pick-ups and drop offs, running around, and work meetings, down time was a sliver allotted to me once the kids were tucked into bed. But, something shifted this past year, and as this month marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, I have taken some time to gain new perspective on my priorities. I’ve taken inventory of my life and all that I have to be grateful for and from there, the stress has started to lift. I tried to stop getting caught up in the little things and focus on what’s important. That’s really helped.
I can’t pretend I have all of the answers, but I do have a few mottos. I have some rules I live by that work for me to stay stress-free all day, every day. If you find that you get stressed out a lot and you can’t identify why, spend some time with a friend or some time alone to think about what doesn’t feel right in your life and how you can make a change. I did, and this is what I came up with:
1. Be present. Life isn’t going to wait until you’re done running an errand so that you can have a moment to smile. No. Life is always happening, so be present and soak up every ounce of goodness that you can. Sit back and relax, embrace the moment… every moment, even if you’re waiting in line at the post office or sitting at a doctor’s appointment. There is fun to be had everywhere!
2. Do what you love. Find a creative outlet and immerse yourself in it. I love music. I love to dance. Both of these things have amazing creative power and allow me to move my body, so it’s like doubling down. I think it’s so important to find something you love to do and dive into it as often as possible. Doodling, playing a board game, listening to music – no matter the activity, your mind turns off and you can just let yourself be taken away for a bit. For a second, nothing else exists.
3. Spend time with people you love. Family, friends, and of course, yourself. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and who give you that yes feeling. It’s so important to be around positive energy and obviously, to reciprocate and be the positive energy for those around you. By checking in with loved ones, you take a moment to recognize and acknowledge that you have love in your life. When you have love, what else matters?
4. Celebrate yourself! Take stock of the choices you’ve made and the goals you’ve set and then take a moment to celebrate your achievements. Big strides, small steps, they all count and they all move you closer to where you want to be.
5. Choose happiness. Happiness is a ultimately a choice. You can choose to stay stuck in the negativity and find a million reasons to support why you should feel sad or bad for yourself, but you can also flip that switch and find a million more reasons why something positive can be drawn from every experience. Sometimes it takes time and distance to get that perspective, but try to look beyond the immediate pain, because a little further down the road, something amazing is waiting for you.
Staying positive, happy, and stress-free is not as simple as I’m making it out to be. I get that. It’s taken me a lot of work to get to where I am and as most of you know, 2018 was a painful year for me and my family. I felt a tremendous amount of stress because I couldn’t cope with what life was throwing at me. I stayed focused, I stayed positive, and I stayed true to myself. I surrounded myself with people I love and who love me. And, I take a moment every day to say thank you for all life has given me and for the strength I’ve nurtured in myself. That’s what 2019 is going to be about. Cheers to that!
Photography by Patricia Brochu