A GUIDE TO MANAGE STRESS IN FIVE EASY WAYS FOR THOSE HECTIC WAYS

I really try to keep my life as stress free as possible but there are times when the amount of things on my to-do list can become unmanageable and then the stress begins to creep in. And it is during those moments that I really have to remind myself to remain calm and get through whatever the stressor is. But, easier said than done, right?!

We all know that stress has many negative implications but just as a reminder here are a few ways stress messes with us:

·         Body: Headaches, fatigue, insomnia

·         Mood: Anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability

·         Behavior: Social withdrawal, overeating (or undereating), outbursts

Stress can have some serious negative implications in three core areas of our lives which is why it is of the utmost importance that we know how to effectively manage our stressors. I think that living a stress free life is almost impossible because there will always be things that stress us out but I also think that there absolutely are ways we can minimize the amount of stress in our lives and in turn see less and less of it. But do I think we can get rid of all stress? No, I don’t think so. 

The following six ways are things I do to help me manage those crazy and stressful days:


Think about the good


This is probably my most used method of managing stress. I do my very best at always being aware of the good things and good people I have in my life. Keeping that top of mind really helps me drive home the fact that not everything will be easy and perfect all of the time and that sometimes we really do need to meet challenges along the ways in order for us to mentally grow and evolve as human beings. In other words – always look for the silver lining. It may not always be apparent but there always is one.


Turn up the music


Music definitely helps me get through stressful days. Pick a genre, an artist or a station that energizes you. I really like playing the Odesza station on Pandora when I need some energy and feel good music. With so much of the same music playing ALL THE TIME on the radio I really like to try to listen to music that I will not necessarily hear on mainstream radio in order to break things up a bit, but that’s just me. Turn up whatever floats your boat and puts a smile on your face.


Drink water


It’s amazing how much better I feel when I am well hydrated. It is such a simple thing to do that is so effective yet the thing that most people forget to do. Take a moment and enjoy a glass of refreshing water. It will instantly boost your mood and give you energy all at the same time. Not to mention all of the great benefits of drinking water.


Go outside


You know that saying, “The best things on life are free”? Well it’s very true and it is amazing what breathing in some fresh air can do to you. But I really mean breathing in the fresh air – you need to let it fill your lungs, exhale out and repeat as many times as you need. Breathing in fresh air will give you some clarity, a sense of calmness and will allow you to ground yourself in a way to realize that whatever is causing you stress will pass.


Tidy up


If ever I am stressed out AND my place is looking disorganized I make it a point to tidy up. On those crazy busy days I will set my timer on for 15-20 minutes put on some energizing music and get to it. I’ll put away any shoes and coats that have accumulated throughout the week at my doorstep or on my couch, I’ll take a walk through and wipe down any surfaces, if I hadn’t already made my bed I’ll also do that. Doing a quick clean up, even if it is just at the surface level really, really helps me reduce stress because a messy place has never helped anyone have a clear mindset.

How do you manage your stress? Please share any tips and tricks you have learned along the way! 

5 TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS AND TRICKS TO BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

I took a couple of days off of work and had an extra-long holiday weekend. It was a last minute decision and since I had no pressing deadlines at work I went for it and I loved every minute of it. While I really needed some time to de-compress from the craziness over the past couple of months I also knew going into this stay-cation that I wanted it to be productive AND relaxing. And yes, it is really possible. I had a to-do list of enhancements, if you will, I have been wanting to make to my living area and my bedroom, I have also been itching to get back in to the swing of things to make candles, I had a few to-do’s on the candle packaging front and I also wanted to binge on some Netflix (btw I watched the entire season of Stranger Things in a matter of two days!) and watch a movie or two.

In order to do the things I needed to do and squeeze in the things I wanted to do and not feel stressed out in the process I had to remind myself of some time management tips and tricks I turn to during times like these:

1 – prioritize your list

Write down all of the things you need to do and the things you want to do. Then go through and prioritize them. My list has two columns a “need to do” and a “want to do”. This helps me separate the two types of to do’s because at times I get stressed out over things I believe I need to do when in reality I don’t have to do them, I just want to – and that makes a huge difference.

2 – complete the most important ones first

Now that you have your prioritized things to do, you need to pick 2-3* that you want to accomplish that day. For the most part I try to tackle my “need to do” first but the change I made this time around is that for every three “need to do’s” on my list I included a want to do.

*This was the hardest part for me – picking 2-3 tasks a day is hard since I always feel like I want to tackle them all at once.

3 – check them off as you go

This may seem trivial but checking things off really helps seeing the progress you have made and will also give you that little boost you need to keep the momentum going.

4 – think of ways you can multi-task

There are instances when multi-tasking can actually be relaxing. For example, one of the things I really wanted to do was lay back and watch a movie with Nina (my four-legged best friend) by my side but I also had a couple of loads of laundry that needed to get done. So I watched the movie in 20-30 minute increments while the loads were either washing or drying.

5 – its okay to say no

This is one of those things that I always tell myself but when the time comes to implement I fold 95% of the time. But this weekend I did it! I was asked to help out with something this weekend and I just knew that I already had things lined up to do and I almost agreed but resisted and declined the invitation. And of course, I felt guilty but it was during this time that I was able to get a few things off of my “want to do” list and it felt great! At the end of the day I did not feel as bad for saying no (only a little bad) because they were able to figure it out without me.

All in all, it was a productive and relaxing weekend. Even though I did not get though everything on my list I made a significant progress and it feels sooo good. On that note, one of the things I really want to do is re-upholster a DIY headboard I made a couple of years back – I’m thinking of documenting that process and making a blog post out of it :) .

How do you manage your to do list? Share your own tips and tricks below!

HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR WILLPOWER TO STICK TO YOUR GOALS

Life gets busy and crazy and before you know it all of the good habits you have worked on for so long have been thrown to the curb. This was my realization a couple of weeks ago. This summer has been incredibly busy in all areas of my life, between getting a new job, working on getting the final touches ready for the candle line, health issues with Nina (my dog, for those of you who don’t know), and trying to be the best aunt I can be to my niece and nephew on top of the regular day to day things we all want to spend time on – like – I don’t know, laundry, grocery shopping, family events - it’s been very, very busy to say the least. But I may be preaching to choir here because I know that we are all stretched very thin with so many daily demands. I’ve been feeling like I am stretched very thin. Maybe the stress has been showcasing itself because even my mom asked me if everything is ok with me! Which I am, there is just so much going on. It is at times like these when I really feel the need to exercise and meal plan and getting back to the good habits I know I’ve gotten the hang of before. Because adding more to my plate will definite help J.

So, while I know what I need to do I am having a hard time doing it. For example, lately, I have been having a hard time making time for exercise and preparing lunch. Lately, by the time 10pm rolls around I am so exhausted that all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep. And because I have not been preparing lunch I have resorted to buying lunch which is not only expensive, but usually not that great. And as far as workouts go, while I do still work out from time to time, I have not gotten myself back into a schedule where I target a specific area for each workout. On my good streaks, I am good about taking some time on a Sunday or a Monday to I write out what workout I will do each day of the week (usually a Tone It Up or Blogilates routine). About 90% of the time I stick to the workouts I have pre-planned – I think that’s a pretty successful outcome.

This is why I have decided that I need to give myself a reality check and a dose of will power and self-discipline. After much thought I decided that it is really about getting back to the basics and the reasons for creating those good habits – whatever those may be for you. And the one thing that will get me going again is:


Remembering how good it feels to accomplish something


Personally, I have been thinking back to how I would feel after a workout. Aside from being sore and barely being able to walk I would feel energized and look forward to more workouts. The times that I would be very strict with myself and worked out at least 5 times a week I would actually begin to feel a difference in body. My legs would feel stronger, I wouldn’t tire as easily while going up stairs, and I would even get out of bed faster in the morning!

And the times that I have stuck to preparing my own foods I feel better about what I eat for the sole reason that I know EXACTLY what is in it, I use fresh ingredients and it is always cooked to my personal perfection. And as an added bonus, it saves me A LOT of money.

My point is that when we all decide we need to stick to something it is usually because we know some good will come of it. We get so far down the path of have motivational conversations in our own heads (which is really the biggest hurdle for most) that getting it done and sticking to it won’t be as bad as it may seem.  

So, how do you keep your will power and discipline strong? What have you challenged yourself to stick to? Do share below!

THREE MONTHLY EXPENSES I’VE GOTTEN RID OF (AND I DON’T EVEN MISS THEM!)

It is OHH so easy to rack up expenses that overtime take a toll on your monthly budget but making the decision to cut ties with those expenses can be hard to do.  On a general note, I recommend everyone to be very aware of where their hard earned money goes each month. This means you need to list out every single payment you have, even if it’s just .99 cents a month. Doing that will be a crucial step in having a clear picture and begin making decisions about where you can trim your budget.

Another fundamental thing to note is that you should have a goal you want to achieve, it can be buying a car, paying off debt, saving money for the trip of your dreams or saving up for a down payment of a house. Having a goal to strive towards will absolutely make trimming your expenses so much easier. The one word I can use to describe the feeling of getting rid of those unnecessary expenses is: LIBERATING!


Nix box subscriptions


It is hard to resist the temptation of signing up for unnecessary subscriptions and have then renewed on a monthly basis. I remember signing up for GlossyBox and BirchBox soon after getting hired for my first full time job I started racking up unnecessary expenses. While I do not regret those subscriptions because it introduced me to an array of products that I otherwise would probably not come across. At the same time, I was not using up all of the products and ended up with piles of un-opened and un-used products. I am still to this day testing products I received during my GlossyBox and BirchBox days!


Canceled gym membership


Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be a member of a gym to get fit or stay in shape. I went through gym memberships from $10 a month to a whopping $100 a month! Yes. I do not know what possessed me to spend $1,200 a year on a gym membership. But alas, I finally came to my senses and canceled that membership. Instead of the gym I know follow at home workout programs like Tone It up and Blogilates. They have a ton of great (and FREE) resources on their websites and awesome videos on youtube. Another hidden benefit to this is the amount of time and money you’ll save in getting to and from the gym and our house and/or work.


Got rid of cable


I was paying $175 a month for a cable subscription that I never used. I finally got the courage to cut that expense and stick with the streaming services I was already paying for, like Netflix, Hulu and HBO. I also got an antenna with a good range so that I could still have access to local channels - it was secretly just for The Voice :).

Have you trimmed your budget recently? If so, what have you gotten rid of? Do share below!