I’ve discussed my personal journey to achieving self-esteem and confidence in the past (here and here), but another topic I haven’t touched on that comes up in conversation with friends and readers quite often, is stress.
My own relationship with stress and anxiety started from a really young age. In elementary school, I remember not being able to sleep before the first day of school, anxious about what would happen in a new classroom, with a new teacher. Fast forward to my teen years and I was always anxious worrying about my body, what to wear and what everyone thought of me. Back in college, I would stress about an assignment until it was completed, even if it was just one paper- I would become consumed by wanting to just get it done, regardless of how much time I had to complete it.
After getting married, I worried about not having enough hours in the day to get everything done: cooking, cleaning, working out, having a social life, having enough time to myself and making time for my husband, the list went on. Now as a mom and entrepreneur, the amount of stress I carry around on any given day is really overwhelming.
Here are 3 things I do to keep my stress level at a minimum:
Weight Training | I’ve been talking a lot about getting and staying more active this year, and I’m excited to share my latest discovery! Weight training is something I never, ever thought I would be into, but wow is it amazing! Focusing on celebrating what my body can do vs. punishing it for what I ate has been my mantra since I started weight training a couple of months ago.
Making myself physically uncomfortable on purpose, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and one of the reasons I love weight training so much. Not only does it challenge me physically in terms of strength and endurance, but it forces me to push myself in a mental way I never imagined, focusing on the fact that I can do anything I put my mind to! And while high-intensity weight lifting is amazing cardio, it also reduces stress by releasing endorphins- chemicals produced in the brain during times of pain and stress, which improves your mood and decreases tension.
Getting my time in the gym to focus on challenging myself mentally and physically has been a great way to relieve stress.
Cooking | When I first got married and later became a mom, it was as if everything I liked to do was buried by responsibility. I no longer had time to curl up on the couch and watch my favorite shows every night, stay up late chatting with friends on the phone or binge-read magazines. Suddenly, I had no time for me. What I did discover though, was that I could find things I enjoyed that were also a part of the daily chores I liked to take on for my family, one of which is cooking.
Growing up in a household where fast food and dining out was a 5 night per week thing, I barely knew how to cook as a young adult, so learning became not only fun, but part of how I enjoyed taking care of my family. Now, cooking is one of my hobbies I use as a way to escape stress, redirecting my focus to a challenging recipe.
Audiobooks | As an English Literature major in college, I’ve had my fair share or reading, so with the little amount of spare time I do have, I can’t bring myself to read much. What I do love to do though, whether I have the time lounge on the couch and completely immerse myself in the story or listen while cleaning or doing laundry, is listen to audiobooks.
Being able to escape worrisome thoughts of what’s on my plate the next day and redirect my attention to something outside of what causes stress has allowed me to be more present and stay focused when it’s most important vs. becoming overwhelmed.
I’m currently listening to Anna Karenina read by Maggie Gyllenhaal, a classic story of doomed love, and I’m loving it so far! It’s one of Audible’s latest releases and I’m excited to partner with them to offer my readers a free 30 day trial of the service with download, for the book of your choice, here. I’ve tried several audiobook services and this one is by far my favorite- crisp, clear sound that brings you into the story as if it’s being told directly to you, and you alone!
Whether your stress relieving method is working out, relying on a hobby or mental escape, it’s important to make an effort to do things that keep your mind healthy and happy.
Thanks to Audible for sponsoring this post.