It’s been a crazy few weeks.
DH has been busy with end-of-term meetings, presentations and the like. I’ve been in charge of scheduling contractors for lingering punch-list items including a sink replacement — it is SO much fun to have your children visiting when you can’t use the kitchen sink –, replacing two window blinds that had arrived damaged, painter touch-ups, fixing the garage door, etc. Plus finding someone to clean the windows, finding someone to cut the grass, and everything else we have to squeeze in before we leave for the summer.
I don’t do well with stress. (Does anyone?) So I try to remind myself to do these simple things:
- Walk whenever possible. We now live about a quarter mile from the supermarket so, instead of driving over when I need a few things, I take the rolling grocery cart or a couple of shopping bags and walk there. It takes longer but is weirdly relaxing.
- Buy flowers. They smell lovely, look pretty, feel indulgent, and improve air quality.
- Spend time alone. Go for a stroll, take a bath, exercise, give yourself a facial… whatever clears your head (literally or otherwise).
- Read or watch something funny. Laughter is the ultimate stress buster.
- Do something creative. It doesn’t have to be award winning or museum quality: Bake, garden, rearrange your closet — anything that fuels your imagination.
- De-clutter. If there’s no time for a full reorg, even neat piles on my desk help me feel more in control.
- Simplify entertaining when you’re short on time. Unless you find it relaxing to make a fancy dessert or bake bread, don’t bother. Your friends want to spend time with you, not admire your gourmet prowess.
- Do the dishes tomorrow. Guests stayed late? Put the food away and let the dishes soak overnight.
- Don’t overschedule. This usually happens because I (and you, too?) want to make everyone happy, often at our own expense. Be realistic about how much you can fit into a given day. If you have to cancel, do so as early as possible to minimize other people’s inconvenience or disappointment. And try not to feel guilty.
- Remember to breathe. Inhaling lavender helps.
Special shout-out to MSW blog for more thoughts on this topic.
A University of Minnesota study conducted over a 10-year period found that cat owners lowered their risk of heart attack by nearly 30%. Meowza!
Other research supports these findings, and lists even more benefits:
- Reduced risk of heart disease is similar to going on a low-salt diet
- Boosts your immune system
- Helps children avoid developing allergies
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Reduces the risk of stroke
- Heals bones and muscles
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves mood
- Lessens feelings of loneliness and depression
Here’s the full article I found, complete with adorable photos.
You feel it in your gut when things are going well. And it’s equally gut wrenching when they aren’t. We’re often told that happiness is a choice, which can seem banal at best and downright condescending at worst. Who are these Pollyannas prattling on about looking on the bright side? Makes you want to swat them upside the head!
But although there will be times in our lives when stress, loss or illness make it understandably difficult to stay positive, some daily habits can either cause us to be miserable or reinforce our sense of gratitude, accomplishment, laughter and love.
1. CLINGING TO TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS
While it’s easy to ignore many people we truly can’t stand – an obnoxious co-worker, for instance – it’s often harder to walk away from a friend, romantic partner or family member.
Relationships should be a two-way street based on mutual respect and the recognition that compromise is necessary when you each have different needs or desires. If you sense that some of your relationships are unbalanced, and you feel that you consistently give more than you get or that most encounters leave you feeling drained, it’s probably time to re-evaluate.
A frank conversation may put things back on track, or you may find that a time out leads to a lasting sense of relief when they’re not around to push your buttons.
2. TAKING EVERYTHING PERSONALLY
The bitter truth: Not everything is about you. If someone is rude it could be because they’re having a crappy day. The waiter didn’t screw up your order to punish you. When an opportunity falls through it’s not because you “always” have bad luck. Habitually casting ourselves as a victim inevitably makes us unhappy.
3. SECOND GUESSING
It’s a fact of life that not everyone will agree with your every decision. Take an honest look at your actions. When you do your best and act honorably you can feel secure in your choices, even if you don’t do or say what somebody else wants to hear.
4. BELIEVING IN “MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY”
You may the hero of your own story, but inflexibility won’t do you any favors. While it’s great to be confident, feeling overly entitled is sure to bite you in the ass at some point.
5. SAYING YES WHEN YOU MEAN NO
Don’t let anyone “guilt” you into doing stuff you don’t want to do. You’ll resent every minute! Guilt is a major happiness time-suck.
6. PUTTING YOURSELF DOWN
While endlessly bragging about (or exaggerating) your achievements is rude and boring, it’s equally important not to beat up on yourself. Be your own best cheerleader, celebrate your successes, and forgive yourself for the legitimate mistakes you make.
7. REINFORCING THE NEGATIVE
Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes we’re irritated with our partners. Sometimes our kids drive us nuts. But although we may feel vindicated after an occasional bitch session, constant complaining is likely to leave us feeling angry and dissatisfied.
Instead of focusing on the negative, especially petty annoyances, seek out friends and partners who reinforce what’s going right, encourage your goals and are truly happy – not jealous – when life goes well for you.
And when you DO need to work through a troubling problem, try to envision a positive outcome rather than dwelling on what can go wrong.
8. ENDLESSLY WAITING
“I’ll move when I find the right job.” “I’ll travel when I have more money.” “I’ll dump him after (fill in the life event).” Putting things off until the “perfect” moment is b.s. Because, guess what, no such moment exists.
Start small. Read about that exotic destination or acquire a new skill. Put aside some money a little at a time. Whatever you can do to move forward today puts you one step closer than you were yesterday. Anything’s better than standing still, and…
9. GIVING IN TO FEAR
We may obsess over past failures, hold on to worries, or be terrified of change. But taking risks is part of life and rarely occurs without discomfort.
Don’t waste energy feeding your fears. Challenges help us learn, grow, and discover how strong and resilient we are.
Chances are, someone else is (smarter), (prettier), (richer), (more accomplished) than you are. After all, look at their perfect Instagrams.
Wait a second; those images are all highly curated! The truth is, comparisons only add value to your life when they inspire you. Envying a friend’s happy marriage? Start dating. Wish you had that guy’s career? Learn more about it.
One foolproof way to boost your HQ? Take time to appreciate the small stuff: your good hair day; that beautiful sunset; a hot bath; the fact that you still have (almost) all your own teeth.
And it never hurts to eat dessert first.
Allure magazine has recently reported that they’ll no longer use the term “anti-aging”. It’s about time.
Since we’ve only got two options — getting older or checking out — there’s not much point in fighting the inevitable. Instead, let’s embrace some of the positives and enjoy being our best selves.
1. YOUR DOUBLE CHIN DISAPPEARS. With the passing years, fat pads under our chins usually get smaller as our faces become less round. (Bonus: more visible cheekbones!) So if you’re considering a fat removal procedure in your 20’s or 30’s, you should probably wait.
2. YOU’RE HAPPIER. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, happiness steadily increases from your 20’s to your 90’s as anxiety, depression and stress levels tend to go down.
3. YOU CAN WAVE GOODBYE TO THE BAGS UNDER YOUR EYES. When we’re younger, these are often fatty deposits. In older women, they’re more likely caused by fluid retention, which decreases as we go about our day.
4. SEX IMPROVES. Caveat: The study they cite in the magazine contrasts higher levels of satisfaction for women in their 40’s and 50’s vs. women in their early 20’s. Older women know their bodies better, are more likely to ask for what they want, and may be more spontaneous. (Note: no mention of post-menopausal issues, though.)
5. YOUR SKIN IS GLOWIER. Again, they’re talking 30’s-50’s, when moisture levels are highest and problems such as acne tend to resolve themselves. Moisture levels drop as hormones and hydration decrease, so 60+ skin often needs extra help.
6. YOU’LL SAVE ON WAXING. As testosterone dips in your 40’s, body hair starts to be lighter and thinner. Post-menopause, skin becomes thinner and waxing may be more irritating than a gentler process such as sugaring. Or, fuhgeddaboudit.
7. YOU’RE MORE OPEN-MINDED. A University of Michigan study found that women in their 50’s were more empathetic than those who were younger. Mature people may have strong opinions but we’re also more likely to understand other points of view.
For more thoughts on aging, plus a delicious cocktail recipe, click here.