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It’s official: we are stressed, people. stressed-woman

In my office, in my inbox, and all over the web, the resounding message is the same: we are feeling overwhelmed, with too much to do and people to please and not enough time or energy to do it; underproductive, with unmet goals and our best efforts just not cutting it; and uncertain, not sure if we are enough for all the tasks at hand.

Even if it’s localized to work or our finances, this stress permeates throughout our days, impacting our interactions with others, our patience with our kids, and our intimacy with our spouse.  And then those negatively impacted relationships become another source of stress.

So this week’s Weekend Challenge is simple.  Take care of you.

Free up some space in your head. 

Whenever you feel a spiral of stressful thoughts creeping into your mind, take 10 deep breaths.  In line at the grocery store with screaming kids, attempting to balance your checkbook, or tackling the 4th load of laundry – stop and breathe.  This will help counteract the fight or flight system that is activated by stress, and keeping your physical reaction to stress in check helps to reduce the emotional reaction.

Be kind to yourself.

Turn your awareness inward and watch out for those creeping negative thoughts that reiterate your stress or less-than-ness.  Whenever you catch one, stop it, and reframe it into something less negative and more supportive.  Practice the same kindness and understanding with yourself that you would with a friend or your kids.

Take some time.

Schedule some alone time just for you to do something just for you.  A workout, a nap, a mani/pedi, or a long bath.  It will likely take some careful arranging and a little rescheduling, but this needs to be just as much of a priority as a doctor’s appointment or getting your kids to school on time.  If you are married, you can exchange parent-duty with your spouse so you can each get your own time.  Ideally, schedule a full hour.  (If that’s just completely undoable – find 15 minutes of uninterrupted alone time and cherish each precious second.)

Marriage is hard.  Parenting is hard.  Life is hard.  Taking care of you makes it all a little less hard.