Surviving the Stress of Today

By Jenny Steadman February 10, 2017

2016 proved to be a very stressful year and 2017 is quickly following suit. 

No matter what your politics, the world is more stressful today than it has ever been in my lifetime. As I found myself deep in the pit of despair (Princess Bride, anyone?) over the weekend, I had the realization that it is time to bring the focus inward. I made a list of things to make me feel good and these are what I am choosing to focus on. I am taking control of what I absorb as opposed to letting Facebook or the news dictate what I take in. Taking these steps will help the whole family. 

1. Sleep. Yes, this is very high up on my list. Recently our 6.5-year-old has decided she prefers my pillow over hers. And that pillow has to be in my bed... with my head on it. See the problem? Needless to say, I have not been sleeping well. It's time to get her to stay in her bed and for me to get to sleep at a reasonable hour (which is between 10-10:30pm for me).

2. Movement. When I don't move, my mood goes south. Like on-vacation-to-the-beach-without-me-south. What does movement mean for me? I need to take a long walk, go for a run or do some Pilates. Movement improves our mood because it creates adrenaline and dopamine which are feel-good hormones. It gets our blood flowing which is good for our heart and brain, helps with detoxification, and we end up making better food and sleep choices.

3. Hugs. The healing powers of touch is no joke. I hug my kids. I hug my husband. I hug my friends and co-workers. Hugs are an instant upper. Do not overlook them. 

4. Food choices. It is true that food can control our mood. When I take control of my food, then I get to be in more control of my mood. Bonus! When I stay clear of processed foods and added sugars, I have better concentration, more energy and am in a better mood. Try it for yourself. 

5. Picking my battles. I have come to terms with the fact that I can't be involved in everything. I have picked three organizations/efforts that I want to be a part of and even amongst them have set priorities. One of them I have taken an active role in while the others are more passive/help-when-I-can roles. 

6. Limit social media and news. I have taken Facebook off of my phone (gasp!) and only browse it briefly on my computer. I read a hard copy of the newspaper and that's it. I am informed yet not overwhelmed. It's the freest I have felt in a year. 

7. Family and friends. Above all else, stay close to family and friends. Being around people you love, who love you, and who are like-minded brings community, support, and understanding. No matter where you are in life, this is always a must. Grab your village and don't let go.