Tuesday, 27 November 2012

What not to do: 10 ways to de-stress your life

One of the unexpected blessings about becoming a mother is the social network you get inducted into. It seems the community blossoms once you're a parent, and all of these unknown places and wonderful people reveal themselves - from parenting websites bursting with advice and ideas, to local coffee groups, to community-based playcentres, to a host of child-friendly venues teeming with happy families.

One such place I visit frequently is Mouths of Mums, an online community of mums asking and sharing advice for women just like me. It really has been like another friend to me, and I've found solace there time after time.

So, you can imagine my excitement when the opportunity popped up to be one of their blogger contributors. Here's the first article from little ol' Latte Mum (copied below too), and I hope there will be many more. Looking forward to seeing you there and introducing you to my dear friend.

The grass isn't always greener - time to love the life you live, and de-stress!
What not to do: 10 ways to de-stress your life

The world is different to me now. Forever changed for the better, because of this new little person in my life. He has no idea that he has done this to me, but that’s what makes it all the more beautiful.

I feel like I’ve led a stressful life. I’ve been through a lot and haven’t been as kind to my body and mind as I should have over the years. Consequently, I’ve experienced my fair share of heart palpitations, anxiety headaches and borderline OCD urges (anyone else unable to sleep unless all the wardrobe doors and drawers are completely closed?!).

My pregnancy was no exception. I endured the typical 12 hour days in the office (in heels, I might add), a couple of pregnancy exercise classes each week, dinners out with friends, a passionate Rugby World Cup campaign (which ended in an overnight stint in hospital due to contractions at 29 weeks – no joke), and still found time to iron the cot sheets in preparation for baby (what was I thinking?!). I think I managed some sleep here and there, but not 100% sure.

‘If I’m stressed now, think how it will be when the baby’s here’ – I thought.

It didn’t matter how many times my [very stable, rational, calm and loving] husband, parents, sisters, friends or colleagues called for calm, I had to find that peace from within. And that’s what happened, quite literally and unexpectedly, in the form of an innocent and contented child who grew inside me for 9 months and then changed my life forever.

If having a baby seems too drastic a step for minimising stress in your life, you can just learn from my mistakes instead!

What not to do: As I discovered, you’ll be stressed if you live by these rules…
1. Prioritise external influences: work is definitely more important than family

2. Prioritise the housework above all else: the vacuuming is more important than that hot drink you’ve just made

3. Spend, spend, spend on everything and anything: nothing beats a how-are-we-going-to-pay-the-electricity-bill argument

4. Calorie count: cakes and chips are definitely out, water and celery sticks are in

5. Over analyse: if that woman in your office said you look good in black, surely she means you’ve put on weight and need a colour that’s slimming, right?!

6. Obsess about the Joneses: specifically, what they drive, the size of their house, the politeness of their children…

7. Yearn for more: specifically, upgrading your car, adding an extension to your home, getting more “thank-you’s” from your children…

8. Immerse yourself in chaos: if there’s a crowd or traffic jam, you need to be in it

9. Crank up the background noise: turn up the TV, music, YouTube, children to ensure you can’t hear yourself think…

10. Do a status update every minute: your virtual friends in the virtual world need to know when you’re on the toilet or going to sleep

Instead, why not feel heart flutters instead of heart attacks and de-stress your life by doing the following…

1. Family first: always; they’re what makes your world go round

2. Take some time for yourself each day: your soul deserves a hot latte and a Kardashian update when you have 5 minutes to spare – the vacuuming can wait

3. Live within your means: write a budget and stick to it if you have to; you don’t need that extra pair of shoes or three-tiered toy storage solution you saw on Mumgo to be happy

4. Enjoy everything in moderation: a caramel slice and glass of red wine never hurt anyone, particularly when you balance it out with a walk in the sunshine the next day

5. Graciously accept compliments: assume that everything’s said in kindness and sincerity, and if it isn’t, it’s not your problem to worry about anyway

6. Don’t worry about the neighbours: there will always be someone richer, smarter, prettier and more charming than you – so just deal with it and move on

7. Be happy and satisfied with the positives in your life: don’t focus on the trivial things you don’t have, but rather celebrate all the joys in your life

8. Reconnect with nature: escape the crowds every now and then by retreating to a quiet park to read a book

9. Turn it off: I love Gossip Girl as much as the next person, but sometimes you just need to turn the TV off and bask in the silence

10. Make real connections: minimise your time in the virtual world; surprise surprise, it’s your friends and family in the real world that give you a hug when your status update is “exhausted”, not your 413 Twitter followers

What else do you do to minimise stress in your life?

*First posted on Mouths of Mums.

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