Remember the scene from I Love Lucy when Lucy and Ethel get a job at a chocolate factory? Their job is to pick up chocolates from a conveyor belt and wrap them in tissue. At first, they do just fine but then things speed up and they quickly realize there’s no way to keep up. And as they hear the bosses’ voice coming, they begin shoving chocolates in their uniforms, hats and even their mouths in order to hide the mess they find themselves in.
I think this scene describes some of our lives. We feel as if we’re at that Conveyor Belt of Life, handling life as it comes and goes but then life speeds up – we’re handed a diagnosis, an aging parent needs our attention, our employer begins layoffs – and we find ourselves getting behind, missing deadlines, forgetting summer camp signup, etc. You get the picture.
When helping people bring organization into their lives, I often stress that sometimes just a little change is needed to make a big impact. If you’re feeling a bit stressed, here are 8 simple things you can do to help yourself catch your breath a bit:
- Take a walk. As winter finally leaves us, take in the sights, sounds and smells of spring. A simple 20-minute walk will clear your mind and help you to appreciate the little things in everyday living. Other physical activities might include a bike ride or a 20 minute Pilates stretching routine.
- Cancel an activity. I recently opted out of going to a professional association meeting. Even though I am a past president, the world didn’t end. I don’t even think anyone missed me! Having margin in your life (and schedule) is absolutely necessary in having balance in your life.
- Meditate or pray. Research continues to support that individuals who spend time in meditation or prayer have lower stress levels.
- Review your calendar for the next 7 days. Take a look at your To Do List(s). Are you being realistic in everything you plan on accomplishing in the next week? If not, it’s time to make some adjustments.
- Plan out your meals for the next week and then go grocery shopping. Having a stocked frig and pantry as well as knowing what you’re going to be eating takes a lot of guess-work out of end-of-day when you’re tired and hungry.
- Buy yourself some fresh flowers. For less than $10 you can enjoy a colorful bouquet that is sure to brighten your day, especially if you’re anxiously waiting for spring to arrive.
- Visit your local farmer’s market or stop at a farm stand. Eating fresh vegetables is not only healthy for you, it helps to support local agriculture.
- Stop. Breathe. Slow down. Right now as you read this newsletter, close your eyes and inhale through your nose, counting to 7. Allow the air to go deep, so deep that your belly extends and not just your chest walls. Hold the breath for a count of 4, then exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of 8. Repeat several times.