You know that one of my favorite quotes said by one of my favorite men is? ‘Simplify, simplify, simplify,’ Henry David Thoreau. Sounds pretty easy right, just like one of my other favorites, ‘Life is Fun’ (thanks to that genius bear Winnie the Pooh). If they were really that easy then we’d all this way wouldn’t we. No we have piles of stuff and mile long lists of things that ‘have’ to be done each day. Trust me on this one, I have spent the last year of my life simplifying and uncluttering (yes this is my notorious shed that I reside). I loved stuff, I loved clothes and fashion and so on, but the last year I’ve been making an effort to get rid of the clothes and unnecessary things that I don’t use, if it serves no purpose I’ve ditched it. It’s like Dr. Dyer says, with every item I give away its like clipping a string, so I have 3/4 of the strings that I used to. Do you know how much less pressure that is? How freeing that is? I don’t have to worry about taking care of stuff and I can just enjoy life, my backpack is there, there is no I ‘have’ to mentality and I can just go. I don’t have to worry about cleaning up, because that’s one thing about stuff you have to spend so much time taking care of it. What is the purpose of a living room that no one is allowed to sit in, but just for looks (this has always baffled me)? Of course I tend to be a bit of an extremist and I don’t expect everyone to start ditching their stuff and living like me, but taking steps to simplify can improve your stress levels. Start by nixing things off your to-do, consider what really has to be done and what you feel like you have to do. There’s also that saying: do more of what makes you happy. If the things on your to-do makes you happy then by all means keep them on there. Simple questioning: Will I die tomorrow if this doesn’t get accomplished? I’m guessing you’ll get a lot of no’s.
Use Pencil not pen
this I love, don’t make everything so definitive and black and white. Ease up, stiffness really isn’t attractive. Because one important stress buster is to try to stay as flexible as you can. Things change! So true, adapt.
Collaborate and Cooperate
There are lots of people out there with to-do lists that look very similar to yours. Why not let them do some of your tasks so that you all don’t have to do them? This is also true, and something I admit I struggle with sometimes. I honestly like to do things, but I know that I have limits too and even though I sometimes wish there were two of me, the truth is there are not. Regulate Brittany, regulate is what I have to repeat to myself.
Pretty easy I know, but how often do you honestly heartily laugh. I know how it feels to have a REAL genuine laugh. Finds things that entertain you. For me Will Ferrell, my nephews, my friends, tend to do the trick, although I have some ridiculously silly clients that make me laugh too. It’s OK to be friendly and happy, somberness really isn’t attractive either.You don’t need me to feed you a bunch of studies to prove this, you can experience it yourself. Use common sense here. Yes this is me and yes this is what my face looks like when I’m laughing. I figured it’d be good to make this post a little more personal.
This is even easier. How hard it is to smile? Aren’t they contagious? Just think of how it feels when someone truly smiles at you. It’s like a laugh, you have to join in. A real smile can light up your whole being and bring up your energy instantly. It’s one of those things that attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching mantras.
Exercise makes you feel good, duh. All those wonderful endorphins and feel-good hormones that are released. There is a fine line with exercise, though, and we’ll see tomorrow that you can have too much of a good thing.
I don’t say this to induce a guilt trip. No, no, no. Because guilt trips compound stress. What I mean here is a simple reminder that compared to other problems in our world today–abject poverty in Somalia or Cambodia–the things that we stress about are pretty minor. Put another way: Don’t sweat the small stuff, and most of it is small stuff.
Compare and Despair
The last thing you should do when you’re stressed is start looking around at other people’s package (job, family support, balanced brain) and pine for some of that. Comparing my insides to someone else’s outsides is a fruitless and dangerous game to play, which is all to easy this day with social networking sites and everyone posting there golden moments. We tend to post the best of ourselves, so feeling self-pity because our lives aren’t as grand as someone else’s seems’ to be is a waste of time. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, start feeling awesome.
Everything breaks down when you don’t sleep well. Any sleep disturbance will diminish mental performance. Stress affects sleep and vice versa. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine compared patients with insomnia to those without sleep disruptions and found that the insomniacs with the most severe sleep disturbances secreted the highest amount of cortisol. I follow my circadian rhythm and trust me sleep is your friend and it is restorative.
Just say no
If you haven’t yet learned how to politely decline offers to head the next school fundraiser, it’s time you stand in front of a mirror and practice. Repeat after me: “Mr. X, I am so flattered by the invitation to serve on your committee. But I just simply can’t do it at this time.”
Learn how to Recharge
Know your rechargers and do them routinely. For me this is reading or writing. I have another blog that is a journal of sorts that help me put my thoughts and struggles to paper. Once I’ve cleared my head and gotten it out into the open, I instantly feel relieved.
Take a Hike
Nature is therapeutic, refer back to post on hiking and what they call ‘forest bathing’, where as little as 5 minutes in the sun can boost mood. Also there are those that abdicate that we are lacking in Vitamin N (nature), and I have to say I agree. Hiking helps me recenter my thoughts and where I feel most like myself. This is from my trip two weekends ago to Brown County
This is something I feel is a necessity. Not a family vacation or itinerary packed trip, but a retreat. A spa, a camping adventure. Anyone that knows me, knows I love to just take off for a couple of days with my backpack, tent, sleeping bag and five-fingers. Personal: it’s a way to reconnect with yourself, to disentangle yourself from the influence of others. To realize just what it is that you believe and to realize what is most important in life. To just be. I feel free and alive when I’m gone in a world where no one knows me and I have no one to impress. These pictures are from my last little retreat to the Indiana Dunes last weekend.Sex
This is pretty straight-forward, although in most of the studies I’ve read feelings are important here (you know that the four letter word-Love) and going to promote the most benefits.
Another obvious thing, you can practice anywhere it’s great. I practice mindfulness when I’m walking, when I’m in the car with my friends, anywhere. It can be quick, you can meditate for long periods, just do it though.
Do Something for Someone Else
It feels good. In March (and especially after I got my tax check) I challenged myself to my own ‘Compassion Project’, of doing something for someone else each day. But the key is to give without wanting anything in return. Some of them were small gestures, some were grander presents, but all of them were done with the utmost love and what I got in return (thanks and love) where more than I could have ever wanted. They’ve done studies, too, that just watching an act of altruism can give an immunity and mood boost. You can give a smile, a helping hand, a little note, I love to mail cards (yes I’m 24 and of this technology generation but I love the nostalgia of mailing/receiving REAL mail) that are handwritten and personal, the options are endless (I find the more personal it is and the more specific it is to the person the more rewarding it is to give it to them). Make someone’s day! A compliment is a pretty easy and cheap thing to give.
I read this book called Three Deep Breathes: here’s a radical thought, just breathe. Relax, let the tension seep from you. Practice at stop lights, while your boss is lecturing you. Just like mindfulness you can practice breathing anytime and its cheap.
When I’m feeling a little down or thinking of what’s missing then I switch my thoughts and think of all the things I have in my life. I’m usually overwhelmed to see what I already have in my life. So live in a state of gratitude for all that you have and the people you have in it. The last time me and Dad had a tift, instead of holding on, I let go and thought of all the reasons why I love my father and how thankful I am to have him in my life. This also lets me live in a state of love and without regret (I don’t leave a situation mad but always apologize no matter what, because it’s truly not about being right or wrong).
Ah back to Winnie the Pooh. Do something that is fun to you. Be silly. Dance, feel the music, don’t mind the steps, just do what your body feels. It may be cheesy but dance in the rain, have you actually done it? don’t knock it til you try it. Sing at the top of your lungs. I may not be Celine Dion, but I love to sing. See me in my car and I’m probably belting out a tune at the top of my lungs, hands flailing to help me really take on my inner rock star persona. Do I care who’s looking, how I sound or if it sounds ‘good’? Hell no I’m just enjoying myself. Sports, games, play an instrument, gardening, riding horses, whatever the activity bring fun into it. When I was hiking at Turkey Run earlier this year with my fluorescent head band and heart-shaped glasses I was hiking along side of this father and his daughter’s, ‘I like your glasses you look like you’re ready for a good time.’ ‘Yes, yes I am, Life is fun,’ was my response. Bring fun to your work and everything you do. It’s an attitude and state of mind. Another wonderfully dorky picture of me belting at the top of my lungs.