When I was in college I was diagnosed with a thyroid disease called, Graves’. Most people have no idea all the thyroid controls until it isn’t working correctly. DING DING DING, that was me! It affected my sleeping habits, weight, anxiety, hair, temperature control of my body, memory, heart rhythm and the list goes on. As a twenty-one-year-old, my world was rocked completely. Fortunately, I had always been a very health conscious person and had a great team of doctors who were able to identify the issue and then get me to my “new normal” relatively quickly. This being said, I have to take medicine for the rest of my life and continually monitor my health with a new set of parameters. One factor that negatively affects my body’s response to the medicine is stress. There is no way to control certain external circumstances that may bring stress but, I can control the way I prepare myself for those situations and how I respond. I have incorporated several habits into my daily life that help me better manage stress.
1. Wake up with an attitude of gratitude
Mornings are the most hectic time of the day for most people. You are trying to get to work or get the kids to school or both. I get that. I get up at least two hours before I head into work so that by the time I arrive I am ready to be present and alert. I know a lot of you are thinking, good gracious what a luxury. IF ONLY! Regardless of whether you have two hours or two minutes in your schedule, you have the choice to wake up with an attitude of gratitude. The first thing I do when I wake up is think of three things that I am thankful for and say them out loud in a prayer. It is one thing to think them but the action of saying them or writing them in a journal just makes it sink in more. Actively choosing the mindset of appreciation is a great way to remind myself whatever the day holds, I have a lot for which to be thankful.
Every day I set aside at least 20 minutes to do some sort of physical activity. There are all sorts of studies that show all of the beneficial endorphins that exercise releases. I can speak from experience, it is the best way for me to manage stress. I work out with a trainer four mornings a week and typically go for a 2ish mile walk after work. My walk gives me the opportunity to transition my mind from work to home. Most days I walk with John and it’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up and decompress. If the weather is nasty, I love doing a yoga video at home. There is no right or wrong time to get active! Here are my favorite walking shoes and my yoga mat.
3. Relaxing Bath
One of my nightly rituals is an Epson salt bath with essential oils. I have always been a bath person because it releases my muscles and relaxes me. When we were planning the renovations of our house I literally moved walls so we could fit a big six foot soaking tub. Boy was that effort worth it! I set aside 20 minutes at night and give myself freedom to enjoy my oasis. I love to light candles and enjoy a book. Once I got into this bath ritual, my body started recognizing the wind down time and I started falling asleep faster. There are tons and tons of health benefits from taking Epson salt baths. You can find out more info about them here, its really remarkable. You can buy my favorite lavender scented epson salt here – it's under $5.
I think that the common theme here is routine. There are just certain parts of my day where I know I have carved out time to recover and restore order. What are ways that you relax and manage stress?