Another Monday is here, and another gorgeous weekend in the books. I sometimes think that Spring has an unfair advantage over all the other months for being the one that brings the sweetest relief to the depths of winter (clearly, I don’t love the cold). I’ve been pretty under the weather the last little while, still mostly trying to chug along, and I’m looking forward to being fully on the mend with some sweet spring air change fully what’s in the air.
Recently, despite even being down of the count, the stress in the air has been palpable all around. End of the 1st Quarter means anyone on a (fiscal) business cycle is feeling the pressure. The varying schedules for spring break brings travel, uprooting, and re-settling to the surface for folks all around, usually impacting schedules of the whole collective to piece together what would be normal life and timing. In all things small business (in my life), the coordination of all the little pieces, all the schedules (human and otherwise) and all of the competing timelines that need to somehow magically merge together have brought some anxieties to an all time high. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of not only my own life, but of those around me and the collective whole — and then I think to myself, ‘Frankie say RELAX.’ Because sometimes, you’ve just got to take a pause from all the noise to figure out what’s really a priority — and reset on what sanity means to you.
I came across this article about Second Hand Stress and it couldn’t be more spot on. Stress always has a snowball effect; whether it’s taking on other peoples stress, building more of our own, or just feeling the avalanche of ‘ALL THE THINGS’ at once, sometimes it’s most important to pump the breaks and get back to our own baseline. I’ve found that the more you do, and the more you have going on, the more frequently you’ll find yourself in a second-hand struggle, and you’ve got to have your own coping/recovery methods for getting through it. I’ve got some what I’d call, first and second level stress recovery tactics that have gotten me through some of the worst energy vortexes I’ve ever known:
First Level Stress Recovery [immediate options for the small bumps]:
1. Stand up from wherever you’re sitting. Log off of all social media. Turn on music. and dance. Seriously, just dance. Increasing the volume will directly increase the effectiveness (of decreasing anxiety).
2. Play with a dog. If you have a dog, play with it, walk it, do something that brings you freedom (mind and distance) from your stress. If you don’t have a dog, borrow someones or walk one at the SPCA (there are a lot of them there just wishing someone would show them love too).
3. Workout. Go somewhere and sweat. If you’re really in a stress bubble, go for a long run, a walk, or do yoga. Find a place where you can escape into your solitary mind with minimal intensity and lots of movement freedoms (maybe check out Yogavibes.com and get in a little at-home class). If you’re needing to really sweat it out, maybe do something like MAD, and rather than finding the solitary moment, find some comfort in community and the folks that just won’t let you get out of there without a conversation and some laughter — that works too.
Second Degree Stress Recovery [when it feels less like a weight on your shoulders, and more like a sword through your brain]:
1. Move furniture. Literally re-arrange your life via your living space. It’s cathartic, fun, and will allow for a pretty quick sense of accomplishment. You can ask my college roommates — this was a pretty frequent tactic for dealing with my multi-level life at the time.
2. Take a day off and go off the grid. Maybe you take a long weekend and go visit your best friend, maybe you need to just go for a ride. Whatever the distance is that you need, take it, and don’t apologize. Sometimes physical distance is necessary to create the space to let go.
3. Cook all the food. Go to the grocery store to stock up on some healthy staples, and then come home and cook some meals for the week (or a big awesome dinner for friends? your call). Sometimes the process of chopping and prepping is what I need in order to work through whatever is going on, and sometimes it’s the actual organization of packing up prepped and cooked food into a million different containers that helps me feel like there is some order in the world. If you’re not looking for a marathon cook-fest, just go to the grocery store because just having food can sometimes be relief in itself.
4. Stop spinning all your wheels, and get organized. This is my most frequent struggle when things start moving faster than I feel like I can respond, and that’s a sure sign to me that there is a breakdown somewhere in my organizational systems, or I need to do some high level re-structuring. I’ve been a long-time user of Evernote, but just converted over to OneNote at work and at home, so I’m heavily reliant on having one place to go where I can keep everything organized and accessible.
Those are some of my key strategies to get myself back on point, and honestly, even if there’s nothing particularly troubling in the air, and no second hand stress to be had, these are all pretty cathartic as every day practices to keep things positive and constantly refreshed. In fact, turning them into more of a practice may actually be the key to avoiding life’s little potholes or getting caught up in the external noise. So, if you’re up for it, welcome spring with open arms, a little release and re-org, and just coast straight on into summer.