How to Get Through the Craziest Most Stressful Times

Last week was one for the record books in terms of busy-ness and stress. In addition to the regular work and family commitments, my husband was out of town, there were construction guys at our house, a big hunk of a neighbor’s tree fell on our fence, an out-of-town friend was staying with us, and I had a major role in a volunteer commitment that required me to be on live TV one day and emceeing the event for six hours the next day.

A fair amount of rejuvenation time is ideal and last week there was only a bare minimum of that. But it turned out OK and here’s why. You can do these things too when you have a week that’s probably even crazier than mine.  (My threshold for crazy might be lower than others.)

  1.  Never sacrifice sleep. A minimum of 7 hours each night. Lack of sleep leads to poor decisions, irritability, and over time, weight gain. Who wants that?! When we’re tired we can’t possibly give our best to our work or the people that matter to us. Inadequate rest is a lose lose proposition so go to bed no matter what. One night I left dirty dishes in the kitchen and as it turns out was not arrested for poor housekeeping.
  2. Meditation.  15 minutes every day without fail. Many people say they can’t sit in complete silence without their mind going bonkers.  I get that.  Put on soothing instrumental music or nature sounds which you can find — as well as guided meditations — on iTunes.  Try not to focus on doing it exactly right or you’ll just stress yourself out…more.
  3. Prepare and do the best you can. You can’t skimp on preparation but even when you prepare as much as you can, you still might not get it perfect. I was content knowing that I had prepared sufficiently and performed at the top of my ability.
  4. Be in the moment.  This is the most important and effective one of all.  Here’s an example. In trying to teach my son not to get too stressed about getting his flu vaccination. I asked him how long it actually hurts we he gets the shot.  We decided it’s less than five seconds. But if he spends all those days, hours and minutes worrying about how much it’s going to hurt, he’s just multiplied by a zillion the amount of time it will really impact him!

The logic works for life in general. When we worry about things that will happen in the future we just multiply our troubles. And because we weren’t living in the present when we had the chance, we also spend a fair amount of time lamenting not having our head in the game when we could have because we were too focused on the future.

Last week, the only thing I could control was what I was doing in any given instant. By focusing completely on the present, I didn’t have time to beat myself up about the past or worry about the future.  Even if the future was only 10 minutes away.

Crazy times are a given but they don’t have to make us crazy. Let me know if you use one or more of these ideas and how that has worked out for you.

Useful? There's more where that came from.

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