Tuesday’s Ten Tidbits: De-Stress the Day
I recently spent a gorgeous fall Monday at Rifle Mountain Park. One of my girlfriends and I had planned to climb all day, but we mostly just sat beneath the same two climbs talking. We’d take 15-minute breaks to do those same two routes (four times each), but then get back to trying to span out our lives. Our conversation focused on relationships (with some sobbing) and how difficult it has been to run the businesses that we each started last year (even more sobbing with this one). My friend relayed her daily routine to me: wake up, feel
stressed about work, jump out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, hit the Internet, stay online until the meetings started, have those business meetings, head to the office, deal with employees, stay up late at night doing more computer work, and then have sleepless nights worrying about the day. Listening to her, I clearly recalled running my first two (failed) businesses and how I fell into the same cycle of stress and depression. After more than a decade of that routine I decided to change course. I received advice and many suggestions from my Buddhist teachers, therapists, Western doctors I worked with, and even some self-help books. Here’s what I typically do in a day to decrease stress:
- I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is spend from 10 minutes to an hour either listening to a guided meditation (when I’m really distracted and can’t focus) or practicing on my cushion. This is my first opportunity to give myself space to just be and not do. Check out this website with podcasts of guided meditations with Gil Fronsdale. I love these!
- I drink a cup of tea (or fruit shake in the heat of the summer) and make myself a good breakfast. Then I sit and drink/eat it at my kitchen table, usually with the Economist in front of me.
- As a general rule, I don’t start working until 8:30 or 9.
- I take random breaks throughout the day, typically when I feel most triggered by a stressful situation. If it’s nice out, I take a quick walk. If not, I stop by the coffee shop for a cup of tea.
- I exercise most days. Sometimes this means three hours at the gym. On busy days I do a half-hour yoga session or bike to and from the office. Read this Mayo Clinic article on the relationship between exercise and reducing stress.
- I eat regular, healthy meals and/or have light snacks throughout the day. I try not to overeat as that usually upsets my stomach and subsequently causes me stress. I also eat foods that actually help reduce stress, such as almonds and broccoli. Read about more stress-reducing foods in this Marie Claire article.
- I drink plenty of water and/or decaffeinated tea throughout the day. Check out this DukeHealth.org article about the relationship between stress and caffeine (sorry coffee drinkers!).
- I connect with people—friends, family, or even just the cashier behind the grocery store counter—and ask them how they’re doing. This usually takes me out of my self-absorbed mind wanderings.
- I disconnect from the iPhone and my computer. I recently stopped texting and emailing in the car, even at stoplights when I surely have plenty of time! I recognized that I was just making myself frantic (and possibly being a dangerous driver). I put my phone on airplane mode when I’m doing things such as meditating, exercising, eating meals, or being with people. And, OMG, I actually returned my iPad after 2 weeks because I realized I was online even more than I had been before I bought it.
- I don’t stay up late working on the Internet, and I don’t turn on the TV before bed. Both of these things agitate my mind. I set myself a “Stop” time, and then I stop working. I make that time early enough so that I have downtime to be present with my life as it is. Here’s a great Daily Beast article about how too much time on the Internet might adversely affect you.
-Lizzy Scully, Stonewear Designs Editor