Mary did a wonderful post entitled "Hug a Kid Today"and that is so true. But while we're at it let's give ourselves a "Hug", too! I have been reading articles on stress reduction and the main theme running through them is taking some "me" time.
How would you describe yourselves? As women, most of us would say caregiver or something along that line. We take care of family...children, grown children, grandchildren and even parents. We take care of the home, the pets , the bills, and our job. We feel responsible for all of these things. No one else can do what we do...do it as well. And there in lies the stress factor!
One of my dearest friends was told a few years back that she needed to de-stress her life. She replied it would be easy if she could "divorce her husband, adopt her kids out, and quit her job!" I think that would work for the most of us. Less drastic measures can be taken however according to Tena Tessina Phd and author of "The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty".
Her first suggestion is to enlist the troops. Make a list of chores and let each family member pick two to do each week, then post the list. Even the busiest member to the smallest child can help. That brings up the but it's not done right argument. Don't sweat the small stuff! Given practice and praise and a lessening of standards it will be fine. Actually, the choree will develop a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of being more a part of the family and team! Before you realize it you will discover you do have support.
Her second suggestion, ring in relaxation. She proposes setting an alarm twice a day to remind you to relax. Take a stroll even if it is just around the house or office. Meditate or say a mantra. Do yoga or try a deep breathing exercise. Five minutes, two times a day is enough to clear your head and raise your energy level.
Marion Somers PhD of Brookdale Centeron Aging offers advice on dealing with elderly parents. For many of us in the "sandwich" generation this is a considerably cause of stress. We should allow someone else to do at least three tasks a week. This can be another relative, a friend or even a paid helper. This allows more time spent directly interacting with the parent and more time for yourself. You will feel less guilty and less stress by knowing things are getting done while you have spent quality time with them.
She also recommends setting more attainable goals. Instead of thinking I need to get the garden cleaned up from fall, say I could clean one bed today after lunch. I need to get this house organized could be I will tackle a cabinet a day.
Another of her ideas is to start with calm. Set the tone for the day by taking fifteen minutes each morning for me time. Read a book, take a walk, enjoy the birds or again, meditate. If we can devote twelve hours a day to others, we can enjoy fifteen minutes for ourselves.
Anne Coscarelli PhD director of the Ted Mann Family Resource Center at ULCA offers several tips. Tip one is to reframe stress. If you have a harrowing commute turn it into a time of rejuvenation. Listen to a book you haven't had time to read. You can rent most anything in audio form. I have done this on long trips and it is amazing how many I could hear that I just couldn't get to any other time. While waiting for appointments take along a book or the mail, or even your knitting. Ten or fifteen minute blocks of time are long enough to accomplish many tasks.
Embracing No is probably the hardest of her suggestions. The old saying, if you want something done...give it to a busy person, is for many of us our maxim. We say yes to any and everything that comes our way whether it is work or family or community. Is this something I really want or need to take on? I have used the" will it matter in ten minutes, a week, or next month" method. By saying no more (and the task will be done by someone!) we free up time to do what we really want, to enjoy the people that matter to us, and to give us more me time.
So if it takes an alarm clock or inking in places on our calendars for me, we need to carve out time to nurture ourselves. In the long run, our family, loved ones, work and ourselves will benefit.
Now just do it!