I live a pretty stressful life.
Some of the factors are just modern life, others are personal circumstances and that last group is the one I’m constantly working on – the choices.
As much as I try to simplify, plan ahead and ask for help – I accept that stress is a big part of my life so I’ve developed some strategies for dealing with it. Here are eight.
1 The gym
Keeping your patience, holding your temper and remaining calm take incredible willpower and involve squashing your inner rage. With me, the result is a lot of pent up energy. On Sunday I was on the treadmill at 8.45am. I don’t say this to impress you – I was up at 5 and I needed to GET OUT THE HOUSE before I exploded. A flat out run and a one-on-one with the punchbag sorted me right out. Plus I wore my new leggings.
No really. Rod came back from a “work trip” to the race track with a cute wee keyring tube containing earplugs. One particularly screamy morning I reached for it and was astonished how quickly my blood pressure dipped. It just takes the edge off.
OK, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I read a lot about art therapy for an article once and it fucking works. I used to mindlessly colour in Johanna Basford’s creations – a few weeks back I started making greetings cards with the kids’ abandoned art supplies. It’s a moment of calm, the use of a different part of my brain and the pride of creating something pretty in the general chaos – not to mention the money saved.
4 Wine, beer and rum
Occasionally it crosses my mind that I may be overindulging, but I can go days without it so I don’t think I’m an alcoholic…. A wee beer while I make dinner, or my husband appearing with a dewy Cuba Libre when he finally gets the kids to sleep are just magic. I’ve also started popping round to fellow harrassed mums’ houses with a bottle (or demanding one) in the evenings and it’s very pleasant indeed.
5 Netflix and chill
There’s something nice about eschewing the TV schedule and suiting yourself….and bloody binging on three episodes of Orange is the New Black (where life is infinitely worse) should the mood take you.
6 Disney Emoji Blitz
This wee app has honestly saved my sanity more times than I care to mention. It’s a bit like Candy Crush but with Disney characters – and you get extra emojis with every level. It’s probably in that crafting cringe category, but it zones me out and my texts are a bit more colourful.
My best girls are all over the world and yet they’re right there in my pocket, especially when I’m losing my shit. From Chicago, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Fife and Dunblane, they’re ready and waiting to support me, reassure me and tell me to wind that neck right in.
8 My imaginary golden network
OK, now you’re really going to think I’m nuts. When I’m trapped in the toddler’s room, in the dark, waiting for the deep breathing that signals I can make my escape, I imagine ornate bars above my head. They’re the network of parents through the centuries who’ve struggled to get their kids to sleep, through illness and war and countless horrendous things, whose strength I can tap into. I imagine reaching up and holding the bars, feeling them glow and knowing I’m one tiny person in this enormous world. It gives me an almost tangible perspective and comforts me.
I could do with a few more – if you’d care to share?!