Mindy writes in:
How do you deal with stress? I know that with three kids and managing The Simple Dollar and all the other stuff you have going on, you have to feel some serious stress at times. What do you do to manage it? I have twin babies at home and I also work from home as a freelance graphic designer. Some evenings I get so stressed out that I start crying.
I absolutely deal with serious stress at times. In the past, I would often attempt to de-stress by buying things and, on occasion, drinking. Today, I really don’t do either of these things. Instead, I have a repertoire of techniques that really help me with de-stressing.
Meditating and praying I spend twenty minutes a day meditating. I find this practice extremely helpful in minimizing stress in my life. It’s an opportunity for me to clear away all of the things in my mind that are stressing me out and just let go for a while. I find that after I’m done meditating, it is much easier for me to deal with the challenges in my day.
I wrote about meditation at length a couple of months ago on the site.
Taking time for stuff I truly enjoy I set aside specific periods of time to engage in the hobbies and activities that I personally find deeply enjoying. For example, Wednesday nights at our house are an ongoing gaming night which I set aside to just unwind and play board games with a few close friends. I set aside an hour each evening for reading for pleasure. I usually set aside a large chunk of my Saturday for some specific activity or another.
Sometimes, I share these activities with my children – sometimes, I don’t. A mix of the two also helps me to de-stress.
Exercising, particularly walking I strive to take an hourlong walk three days a week, during which I usually listen to a podcast and just let my feet guide me wherever. My mind usually wanders a bit during this, dancing over the words of the podcast or just drifting off into nothingness.
When I get back home, with some sweat on my shirt and a smile on my face, everything just feels much easier to deal with than before I left.
Eating asparagus, blueberries, and citrus fruits As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been on a plant-based diet for more than a month now. That diet has actually helped quite a bit. In the course of eating this diet, I’ve focused a lot on the impact different foods have on how I feel.
In terms of feeling calm and not stressed out, few things beat asparagus, blueberries, and especially citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits. I usually have a very low-stress day if I start off the day with a couple of oranges.
Making it easy to pick up abandoned tasks One big element of stress in my life is all of the projects left undone because I ran out of time or energy. The best method I’ve found for mitigating that stress factor is to make the project as easy as possible for me to pick up again at a later date – in effect, “finishing” it to a small extent.
For example, if I’m in the middle of writing an article or an email, I jot down quick notes on what I want to include in the rest of that article or email. If I’m making a meal, I leave out the ingredients for the rest of the meal along with a mark on the recipe indicating where I’m at.
Spending time with people who care about me The ongoing process of eliminating negative people from my life and keeping positive people in place has been a major positive influence in reducing stress.
I simply ask myself regularly if there are people in my life that are causing me to stress out because of their behavior (not because of my own worries reflected on them). If they are, then I strive to reduce the role that they have in my life, plain and simple.
Saying “no” sometimes When someone straight-up asks you for something, it’s much, much easier to say “yes” than say “no.” Yet, it’s those “yes”es that end up haunting you later on when you’re overwhelmed with things that need to be accomplished and you’re stressed in choosing between them and allocating your time and energy.
The best solution is to simply say, “No, I’m sorry, I just don’t have time to take that on properly.” Most people will respect that statement and move on from there. Careful use of that type of response can help you filter things that are really important to you away from the things that aren’t so important, leaving you with more efficient use of your time and energy, and less stress to boot.
Eliminating irritants For me, messy rooms are a big irritant. If I find that my office is messy, I usually become less productive than before. Thus, one effective way for me to de-stress and get more done is to simply take on that irritant and clean up my office (something which I need to do now, incidentally).
Seek out the irritants in your own life and do what you can to rub down those burrs so that they’re no longer bugging you. It’ll help you subtly with every moment that passes.
In the end, stress can be quite an obstacle for successful personal and financial living. Finding ways to minimize that stress can make all the difference in the world, and there are many effective ways of managing stress that don’t involve shelling out cash.