I woke up at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, stomach in knots, and pretty anxiety-ridden. This upcoming week is a big one. Perhaps you can relate to a frenetic pace as work deadlines creep up, bills have to get paid, food has to make its way into your fridge, and laundry has to somehow magically get done. Perhaps you have a supportive partner who helps out. Perhaps you're doing it alone.
I actually tweeted about my anxious state yesterday morning, and someone told me to try taking pills. Well, I don't even take an Advil for a headache so that wouldn't go over well. I did however, do yoga, then push-ups, then dips, then 2-minute planks, then ate a great healthy breakfast, and by 9:30, I was seriously 90 percent better. No joke. And a light bulb went off in my brain, an "AHA moment"... we are so much in control of ourselves and our lives. We are in control of our health, our well-being, our mental state, our marriage, our children. Everything. It's up to us to give ourselves the best life possible. No one else can do it for us, and truth is, it's best when we can do it for ourselves. It was a powerful realization.
When you think about it, there are really four areas in our lives that get cluttered... our minds, our bodies, our homes, and our relationships. So today, my goal is to get your brains uncluttered. As we get back to routine, to mounting pressures, here are 21 things you can do TODAY to help calm your mind, body, physical space, and relationships. These are 21 things that I have done almost daily, for most of my life, and have helped keep me off any medication, have kept my weight in check, my relationships in order, and my house a comfortable place to live.
At the end, I'd love to hear what keeps your mind uncluttered and stress-free.
1. Start your day with a tall glass of lemon water. You'll notice a difference in your skin, your body and your insides will thank you.
2. Plan your entire week on Sundays, as well as your next day on the evening prior. This can even be done in bed, by glancing at your calendar. Waking up to a surprise TO-DO list with unexpected tasks you forgot about can be very unnerving. A simple 20 minutes to plan your next day or week has helped in every way. If I see my week is looking too full, I see what I can reschedule for a quieter time.
3. I make sure 85 percent of my commitments are necessary commitments. That means I have started eliminating unnecessary commitments from my schedule, and it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted. Practice the art of saying "no" to the things that don't bring you happiness and fulfillment. If you're at your human pretzel threshold, that won't serve you very well. Drop what's not absolutely necessary. You'll get over it, and maybe next "semester" will have the time.
4. Do a check in with those you love on a daily basis if possible -- if not, every second day. That means those relationships closest to you... partner, children, parents. I "check in" with my kids every single night before bed... is something bothering them that day, did anything great happen that they wanted to share, did they learn something new? I try and do the same with my husband... although he has a tendency to be less verbal than I!
5. Create a harmonious workspace. This means, at the end of EVERY day, take the time to clean up your office, your desk, so it greets your calmy the next morning.
6. Exercise -- walk, run, bike, cycle, hike, spin, yoga, pilates, strength train. Commit to being physically active at least three times a week, for one hour. If I only have a little bit of time to work out, I run for 30 minutes, do 20 push-ups, 20 dips, and five 2-minute plank intervals. That's all. It takes me about 48-52 minutes. I feel like a million bucks.
7. I prepare my snacks for the week on Sundays... I cut up vegetables in containers. I cut up fruit in containers. I make sure I have nuts, yogurt, hummus, cheese, peanut butter, everything accessible and cut up. This makes it easier when I'm hungry and want to grab junk snacks.
8. Which leads us to... dejunk your fridge and pantry. Just STOP buying crap for your house. I don't buy diet soda, I don't buy any chocolate, rarely buy ice cream. Yes, I buy a few of the "healthier" cookies and some chips, but overall, my house is healthy. I let cheats be out of the house; I don't let cheats be PART of the house.
9. Schedule time for your girlfriends. Once a month, commit to lunch, coffee, dinner with one friend or five. Your girlfriends are necessary parts of your existence -- make time for them and stop making excuses. It's like the gym; you don't think you have the time, but you're never sorry after you go.
10. Soak in a nightly bath and make a cup of herbal tea. After my kids go to bed, even before my husband gets my attention, I take 45 minutes to myself almost nightly. I take a nightly hot bath and finish with a warm, soothing cup of organic detox tea. It sets my mood for the evening and helps calm and sooth me. It's my daily must-do.
11. Stop procrastinating. No more excuses. BUDGET YOUR TIME. Use a calendar. Don't leave things until the last minute. Keep your inbox clean and updated. Stop letting things pile up. Commit to taking an afternoon in the next week and clean house.
12. Volunteer. Just volunteer. When you can. If you don't have a lot of free time, don't put a rigid schedule to it. Find something meaningful, such as meals on wheels, where you can call at the last minute and help out. Helping someone in need is absolutely rewarding and a wonderful way to unclutter yourself.
13. Get 30-45 minutes of fresh air outside, seven days a week, 365 days a year. No excuses. I walk outside in the winter. I sit on my deck and let the vitamin D soak on my skin. A person needs OUT. If you work in an office all day, keep those running shoes handy at lunchtime, and head out for a power walk.
14. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Part of what made my first business successful, and now my blog well-received, is because I never tried keeping up with anyone other than myself and my own personal best. I am simply always trying to do better than myself, not better than anyone else. That goes for your life. Just focus on your own journey. No one has everything, so stop comparing yourself to others. Please.
15. Plan outfits, lunches, meals the night before. My kids' lunches are made the night before. I even try and lay out their clothes the night before (a must if you have picky dressers). The frenetic mornings are much easier when all we have to do is get up, brush our teeth, eat breafast, and go to school. The boys get showered the night before. I grab their lunch from the fridge and we're out the door. Starting the day off at a hectic level, doing everything from scratch, doesn't set the tone for a calm day.
16. Romance. Make time. Reconnect with your partner. Call grandparents twice a year to take your children and have a staycation with your partner -- that means your vacation with your partner takes place at home! Make a yummy dinner by candlelight. Regroup. Sleep in. Pamper each other. Be good to each other. This costs nothing. It only costs the gas to deliver your kids to the neighbors, grandparents or friends. Do it. Trust me.
17. When guilt creeps up, shoe it away. You are a woman who deserves to feel healthy, fulfilled and happy. When we run from task to task, taking zero downtown to regroup, we burn out. This is a fact, and it happened to me in 2002. Find the happy medium between giving to those around you, and learning to be still within yourself. That means taking the necessary "me time" you need to regroup and not feeling guilty about it. You are entitled to thrive in all your roles, so taking time for yourself is both necessary and vital to your overall health and mental well-being.
18. Learn to love music. Save up for a docking station that lets you play your iPod loudly! Do the dishes to music, fold the laundry to music... any kind of music... the music that you love... calm soothing music, R&B, hip-hop, or heavy metal! I can give you a list from here to China about the physiological benefits of music and what it does for your serotonin levels and mood. Clean the house to music. Lie in bed and have sex to music. Music is part of my daily life and I would be dead without it.
19. Live in the moment. When you focus on the here and now I promise, you will feel calmer. It's a simple but powerful concept. My anxiety only sets in once my mind wanders to other moments beside the present. It takes practice, but it works.
20. Simplify. Everything. That means simplify things such as online banking. Instead of spending money on a dinner out, hire a cleaning lady to help you instead. Reduce your spending, therefore reducing any debt. Invest in ways to simplify your life. You will feel free and much less weighted down. Many of us thrive in chaos (bad, friends). Practice changing your ways; keep reminding yourself the word simplify. Simplification brings peace.
21. Read as often as you can. A book. A magazine. A newspaper. A romance novel. But just read. Commit to reading. On certain days, read something that educates you, on other days, read something that takes your mind away for an hour. But reading is life-changing.
I would love to hear how you have decluttered your mind, body, spirit, relationships and home.
Share your tips right here.
For more by Erica Diamond, click here.
For more on stress, click here.