There are TEN DAYS until Christmas!!! T. E. N. While I am thoroughly excited about THE BIG DAY, there’s a lot to be done before then. And the fact that there is an ever widening Black Hole in our bank account makes me stress more than a little bit. We are down to the final week of school which means both kids are all mine from Monday through Wednesday afternoon which wouldn’t be a big issue if I didn’t have to squeeze in a full day of work next Tuesday, thankfully from home. There are presents to wrap, presents to buy, presents to create. We have family in the US who will be lucky if they get anything this year as there are only TEN DAYS until Christmas and I highly doubt I’m going to get anything there in time! In addition to the usual Christmas kerfuffle, our oven won’t heat, our dishwasher is thoroughly broken and we’re now waiting to see what else joins the appliance graveyard known as our house. STOP THE INSANITY!
This morning I have been stressed. This morning I have wanted to shout (at no one in particular). This morning I have wanted to dive back under the duvet, close the blinds and have a really long nap. This morning I have wanted a friend to pat my hand and make it all better. This morning I have wondered about the choices I have made. This morning I have had my faith in Embrace Happy tested. And then I stopped. I took stock. Things could be SO very much worse. My life is not miserable. My life is actually very good with bits and bobs of not-so-good sprinkled in just to keep me on my toes.
Two years ago a blogging friend of mine and of the rest of the UK blogging community, died. She had suffered a brain aneurysm in the late summer of 2012 and was semi-comatose as a result. She rallied a bit but ultimately lost her battle due to complications as a result of her condition. She died on December 14, 2012. Kerry Farrow was 30 years old. She had 3 children, 1 set of twins and another boy. Kerry was an amazing lady, wife and mother who never let the smile fade from her face. She was a friend to everyone and when she died, tragically, suddenly and far too soon, the whole of the blogging community wept. Although Kerry was not a close friend, I knew her, laughed with her at blogging events and admired her positive nature and energy for her children. When Kerry died, leaving behind a bereft husband and 3 children who would very possibly struggle to remember her due to their young age, I realised that it was time for a change. Kerry’s blog had become a time capsule for her children. They would be able to read it and know how much their Mummy adored them and what fun they experienced in their too-few years together. That was the first step I took in making a change toward embracing happy. I was determined to make our lives memorable, positive and happy. Kerry taught me that lesson and I am eternally grateful for it.
With Kerry in mind and Embrace Happy in my heart, I slapped myself around inside my head and set to shaking off the stress. I finished putting up the last remaining baubles and Christmas decorations, I helped Sammy set up his dinosaurs in his sensory table, I brewed a cup of tea and poured out some Lego Duplo blocks to create a festive decoration. I reached out on Facebook for a bit of encouragement, shared a fun photo on Instagram and generally put my stress into perspective. This is how to cope with stress, in my case. Here are some suggestions for you if you are stressing and struggling at this time (or for that matter, any time) of year.
- Is there anything constructive that can be done about your stress? Would it help you to write out a list, prioritising the BIGGEST tasks first? Putting a lovely TICK BOX next to each line item later allows you to properly TICK that item off when it is accomplished which can be very satisfying. Another idea is to break tasks down into MUST DO, WOULD LIKE TO DO, NOT OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE. Is there anyone who can assist you with your jobs? Delegating would be brilliant and if it can be done, don’t be afraid to ask for help. What’s that phrase about a problem shared???
- Lower your expectations! This may sound a bit funny on a site that promotes positivity but sometimes we need to scale back our plans to be more realistic. You may not be able to create a Heston Blumenthal-esque Christmas Dinner! Making your own paper from scratch and attempting to replicate a Pinterest pin about decorating your own wrapping paper may not be the best idea you’ve ever had! Stop, sit and think…how can you REALISTICALLY achieve what you are hoping to achieve. Make your life a teeny bit easier by lowering your expectations a bit and you’ll be amazed with how much better you feel. Set yourself up to SUCCEED not FAIL.
- RELAX!!! As daft as it may sound when you’re under the gun and have too many things to do, stopping everything and indulging yourself in a bit of relaxation will help immensely. If you can, turn off social media, mute the phone and lock the door. Put on some of your favourite music or one of your favourite movies/telly shows. Put your feet up, brew a cuppa (or pour a glass of something, depending on the time of day), have a bit of chocolate or a lovely, warming lunch or snack. Grab a magazine, book or notebook and take 20-30 minutes to just lose yourself. For me, writing is very therapeutic. I can almost feel things falling back into place as I type. If that works for you, do it. Take a bath, light a candle, practise a bit of guided meditation. Quieting yourself and your mind can help you put things into perspective again and make the mountain far easier to climb.
- Count your blessings. Practise your #3goodthings exercise. Think about your day and dig to find the good in your day so far. Maybe you can only find ONE thing but hang onto that ONE thing. You are succeeding and you will get through your day. Make a list of ALL of the good things in your life. This could include people, things, happenings, animals. Write down each and every one, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. When you’re done, thoroughly read through the list and just soak in how much you have to be grateful for in your life. And if you’re really feeling grateful, why not ring up one of the people on your list and tell them all about it?! Happiness shared is happiness multiplied!
- LAUGH! Next to sunshine, there’s no better medicine for what ails you than laughter. If you have to, fake it until you make it! If there’s a favourite YouTube video that makes you chuckly, put it on a loop and exercise your stomach muscles. Maybe there’s a Christmas movie that makes you cry with laughter (Elf is one of my recommendations!)? Put it on and laugh like no one is listening! Take that “Resting Bitch Face” off and replace it with a SMILE. A smile, mind you that makes the corners of your mouth turn up and your eyes twinkle. If you have small children at your disposal, start a tickle fight and see how much better you feel! Maybe you need to have a go on the swings, a bounce on the trampoline or a roll down a hill? Whatever makes you chuckle…DO IT and then REPEAT! STAT!
Feeling any better? I hope so! What are your favourite ways to cope with stress? I’d love to know what works for you. And always remember, not every day is good but there is good in every day.