I’ve discovered that February is a month of settling. I forget about this feeling every year, forget that the lingering sweetness of holiday and family fades at January’s end. Reality creeps to the doorstep to pause on the stoop, head cocked, debating whether to be biting or grim or hopeful. February is the realization that the much-anticipated yearly ‘renewal-of-self’ is, well, tough. Truth, marigolds: it’s kind of hard to change, to loosen, to step forward. To envision. To wade against the current of habit.
With reality comes stress. It is stressful to realize that working a less-than-dream job is not healthy for the soul. It is stressful to discover college does not prepare one for the onset of monotony and dream-stomping that occurs on the other side of school. Stressful to realize that if I want to keep my mind and my body and my dreams sharp, it’s all on me.
But I’m pulling out all the stops this February. Reality is a hopeful cloud on my 2013 doorstep, and I’m de-stressing my distress with surprising accuracy.
Please, marigolds. Join me on this one.
- 1. Surprise Your Loved One With a Meal
Leftover pizza was on the agenda for Tuesday night until I received a text from Tim detailing his stressful day. My day hadn’t been that great either. (C’mon, Tuesday!) I decided pizza could wait and, reverting to whirlwind mode, set about collecting our lives and arranging the house to taste. Cleaned the kitchen, lit a candle, cooked some comfort food. Mac n’ cheese. Making dinner and cleaning called me away from a bad, and it was definitely gratifying when Tim came home to a “weekend-like” atmosphere. De-stressing at its best.
- 2. Lavender Incense
- 3. Goals Summit (aka Plan of Attack)
Sit down with your partner and write out the vision of your life. Include short term goals (Find somewhere new to hike every month), long term goals (Be able to pay for future children’s college education) and personal goals (Eat slower, Learn Spanish). They can be silly goals (Learn to Joggle), or serious goals (Move back to the Midwest after Tim’s Ph.D). Having a goals summit give you a sense of purpose and a path to start walking, even if you decide to branch off somewhere down the line. Know that the stress you feel now can — and will– change and abate as you work towards your goals.
- 4. Read a Book from Your Childhood
Reading books from your childhood will take you to a time when stress was worrying whether Mom was going to let your brother lick out the frosting bowl instead of you. Other childhood tomes of de-stress: Bridge to Terabithia, The Horse and His Boy, and Crown Duel.
- 5. Garden
- 6. Sweat Often
Sweat is the defeat of stress. Or, at least, of stress symptoms. Yoga, weight lifting, walking – it doesn’t matter as long as you are refusing to sprawl on the floor wrapped in a blanket of stress. I prefer to run. To me, running is the dwelling on, chasing down, and devouring of stress. I’ve really kicked out the miles this month, about 23 a week right now. (Up by about 50%… not saying too much) At this point, running still feels awful the first mile, but the benefits throughout the day are unbelievable.
- 7. Call Your Mom
Tell her ‘hi’ from me!
- 8. Eat Like a Human
When you eat from the earth, you feel and act and react like a creature of the earth. When you eat processed foods and sugars, you feel like a creature made of toxins and apathy. (Hello, ice cream and wine last night. Feel like a monster.) Ultimately, eating right will prevent the additional stress of worrying about health, weight, and –let’s be honest here — grocery bills. Fruits and Veggies = Pre De-Stress
What is your best tactic for managing stress?
How does your stress manifest itself?
– Sadness and snacking!