Inner Peace: How to Stop Stress

Stop StressWhew!  This is sure a BUSY time of year, isn’t it? 

After writing an article last week about “Committing to Self-Care This Holiday Season” I proceeded to have a really intense week, filled to the brim and 1 am bedtimes became the norm.

Not really ideal, ya know?

I was going to write about how to stay in the flow when your schedule is busting at the seams, but then I got a better idea after the week’s commitments culminated into a wad of stress.  You know those moments, right?

It’s when you stop long enough to realize your chest is tight, you feel fatigued, your mind is racing, and you’re wondering how to “get it all done.”  The idea of inner peace in these moments is an elusive concept or not even entering your consciousness.

THIS is the point I want YOU to start paying more attention to.

Yes, you read that right.

When stress peaks to new heights and you feel uncomfortably stressed, it’s time to stop and get curious about this lovely pickle you’ve found yourself in.  Focus on this intense moment of stress and gently challenge yourself to find inner peace.  Make it a fun game.  Easy breathing and a calm center is your prize.

Let me show you exactly how I did this on Saturday.

How to stop stress?

On Saturday, I left John with the twins all day (his second FULL day all on his own!) and I flew to Northern California for a private meeting.  That morning, I noticed my body was particularly achy, like I was getting the beloved flu :-(.  

One of my dearest friends picked me up at the airport, and we visited over a quick breakfast before zipping off to my all-day meeting.

As I climbed into my seat on the airplane, I immediately became present with how exhausted I was from the intense week, only 5 hours of sleep and my still aching body.  Gosh, was I really getting the flu?  Ugh! 

Next came a flood of self-directed responsibilities into mind.  Can you say tidal wave?  Hiring a new nanny, Christmas shopping, website redesign, family photoshoot on Monday (coordinating 4 outfits takes some time), wardrobe shopping for my own photoshoot for the website (Lordy! The photo above is now 7 years old! Shhh!), plus I wanted to write this article, support a friend’s daughter in crisis, attend a birthday party with the family the following day, spend time with my babies and husband — and oh yeah, I was exhausted, my body was aching with chills, and I was seeing cross-eyed.

You get the picture.  Guessing you’ve had similar experiences with stress too, right?  Maybe just a different combo of commitments?

So, here’s exactly what I did to stop stress.

1.  BREATHING.stop stress - breathe

I immediately closed my eyes before take off and collected my energy. Breathing in. Breathing out. Ah, hello “center.”  Yes, there is A LOT to do, but in THIS moment there is nothing to do but breathe.  It took a few minutes to feel the calm, but soon I was reconnected with my heart. 

2.  Recalibrated Time.

I realized it all doesn’t have to get done today, this weekend or next week or next month.  Period. 

3.  Started Thinking in Terms of Projects and Priorities.

I pulled out my notepad, identified 10 “projects” and bulleted out specific “next tasks” for each category.  As I did, it was easy to see which were truly the most urgent.  Plus, it’s nice to get them out of mind and onto paper where they’re easier to view objectively.  Since then, I’ve completed 3 projects, crossed off 13 big to-do’s, and 9 tasks are in motion. 

4. Ordered a Glass of Wine. 

LOL!  I don’t typically drink on planes, but who am I to ignore inspired ideas? Special thanks to the guy sitting in the row ahead of me.   It certainly added to my overall relaxation.

5. Did A Perspective Check. 

As one of my clients likes to say, “I have white man’s problems.”  The bigger reality of all is NONE of the “to-do’s,” except for caring for my babies, are absolutely necessary. Nice to recognize I’m the one doing the choosing.  Perhaps even more important is remembering I don’t live in a third world country.   If you’re reading this, my guess is you, too, have ample food in your belly, you only see bombs on TV and have a computer, iPad or smartphone to read this article.   Perspective is everything. 

6.  Created a Self-care Plan.

Yep, I fell off the self-care wagon, but it only takes a minute to get back on it.  I committed to taking a homeopathic for flu (Oscillococcinum works wonders!) when I got home, drink plenty of water, and get to bed early.  I was asleep by 10 am, and got a restful 10 hours that night.  And I had a much-needed massage today. 

7.  Decided to Be Present with ONE Activity at a Time. 

This is honestly the biggest key to staying in the flow when there is A LOT going on in your life.  Over the past few days, when I’m with the babies, I’m WITH the babies.  When I was on the phone with the web designer, I was in that conversation.  When I was at the birthday party, I was fully there.  When my friend’s daughter came over two night’s ago, I was simply listening and being with her.  As I’m writing this article, I’m fully here.  You get the idea.  It’s like a horse with blinders on.

Mary Allen - Finding Inner Peace - Stop StressBy the time I landed, one hour and 10 minutes later, I had a clear and focused plan, was recommitted to self-care, and tucked my babies into bed with a smile on my face. 

The next day my flu-like symptoms were gone, turns out it was mastitis — and that was gratefully resolved in 24-48 hours. 

Life is still busting at the seams for me this week, but I’m present to each activity and can honestly saying I’m enjoying this short period of intensity. AND, it’s NOT the way I prefer to live consistently.

I am looking forward to taking some downtime over the next few weeks.  My last coaching appointment for the year was yesterday, and I’ll resume the second week of January.  To help me balance out of the busyness of the last two weeks, I’ll also resume article writing on January 7th. 

Until then, from my family to yours, have a blessed and joyous holiday season and remember to keep re-committing to self-care this holiday season.

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