10 Easy Ways to Deal with Stress

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Last night I was feeling stressed to the max. 8O

Stacks of paper on the counter begged to be organized, sock fuzz littering the hallway demanded to be swept, piles of laundry pleaded to be washed – I’m sure you’re all too familiar. The fact that it was pitch black by 5:30pm tipped the scales in insanity’s favor, sending me straight into a stress-induced tizzy.

I do my best to put my nose to the grindstone everyday, but it’s inevitable that once in awhile my list of to-dos outweighs the time I have to do ‘em. When that happens it’s important to have productive, positive ways to deal with the situation. Here are 10 ways I deal with stress:

1. Ask for help. Ain’t no shame in asking your spouse/partner/family for assistance. I’ve found that it helps to explain that I’m feeling overwhelmed and need help, rather than just asking Ben “Can you empty the dishwasher?”

2. Make a list. Write down a list of all the things you have to do, with a starting and ending time associated with each item. Example: 7:30-7:45pm: pay bills, 7:45-8:15pm: sort and file mail, etc.

3. Prioritize. Identify the items that will not bring your world crashing down if they don’t get accomplished that day, and those that will. Tackle the most critical items first.

4. Walk away. Literally remove yourself from the situation and chill out for 10 minutes. Clear your head, then return.

5. Assist your future self. Sort mail as you receive it, dust/vacuum one room a day so you don’t have to clean the whole house at once, straighten up rooms when you leave them, prep meals on Sunday so cooking dinner doesn’t take as much time during busy weeknights.

6. Hug it out. Hugging for 20 seconds or more has been found to increase the happy hormone oxytocin, and decrease cortisol, a stress hormone. I heart hugs.

7. Work it out. Go for a walk, run or take 20 minutes to do a free yoga routine.

8. Look at the big picture. Step back and look at the big picture. I have a job, roof over my head, food on my table, and a family that loves me. Unfortunately many people around the world don’t. Thinking about that usually brings me back to reality real quick.

9. Laugh. I got this hilarious email from my sister-in-law last night which, while reading, totally took my mind off the mountain of to-dos I needed to get done!

****** 20 ADULT TRUTHS ******

  1. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
  3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
  4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
  5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
  7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  8. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind-of tired.
  9. Bad decisions make good stories.
  10. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
  11. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.
  12. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  13. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  14. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  15. I disagree with Kay Jewelers; I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.
  16. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  17. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?
  18. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
  19. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
  20. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

10. When all else fails…avoid. Laundry, bills and sock fuzz will still be there in the morning. Sometimes turning a blind eye to responsibility (if you can!) with an evening of trashy television, warm Apple Cinnamon Crisp with vanilla ice cream, and a cough 9pm bedtime cough, is just what the doctor ordered. :)

Although I usually choose avoidance as a last resort, last night’s less stress evening left me feeling better today, and in between scoops of ice cream and the ridiculous, never ending plotline of Blair & Prince Louie’s looming wedding, I outlined everything I need to accomplish today in a list. It’s long, my friends, but lists make me happy.

Hey, that would make a good t-shirt… ;)

The new 30 Minute Reverse Countdown Treadmill Routine I tried out at the gym today also helped:

Time Speed
0-1 4.0
1-2 6.5
2-3 6.6
3-4 6.7
4-5 6.8
5-6 6.9
6-7 7.0
7-8 7.1
8-9 7.2
9-10 7.3
10-11 7.4
11-12 7.5
12-13 7.6
13-14 7.7
14-15 7.8
15-16 7.9
17-31 Go down .1 mph every minute, starting with 7.9 and ending with 6.5.
31-32 4.0
Total: 3.75

A 1 minute warm up/cool down on either end took me right to 3.75 miles in under 33 minutes. Quick & dirty, yo! :)

Thankfully I also had enough sense last night to lay out the stuff I needed to make tonight’s dinner, so my Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad came together in pretty much a jiffy after the gym.

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Tender Israeli couscous mingles with salty feta cheese, chewy dried cranberries and sweet maple roasted butternut squash in this easy, toss together dinner salad.

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Seriously, it was so easy!

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Start by tossing cubed butternut squash with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and salt & pepper.

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Roast on high ’til it’s golden brown and crusty.

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Meanwhile, mix together red onion, walnuts, feta cheese and baby spinach.

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Toss with hot, cooked Israeli couscous.

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Ok, I lied – this is actually a blend of Israeli couscous I got form Trader Joe’s.

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It’s got the cous, baby garbanzo beans (didn’t even know those existed – whee!) and red quinoa. I cooked it in chicken broth so it’d have extra flavah.

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Toss in dried cranberries at the last minute before plating the salad up, and sprinkling a little more feta on top.

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Because, as you know, feta makes everything’s betta! ;)

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Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

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Serves 4

Slightly adapted from Closet Cooking

Ingredients:
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded & diced into 1/2″ cubes
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
2 cups Israeli couscous, farro, or other small pasta/grain cooked in chicken broth
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese + more for garnish
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss butternut squash with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and salt & pepper. Spread on a foil-lined, non-stick sprayed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Toss then roast for 12-15 more minutes, or until squash is golden brown.
  2. Combine hot, roasted squash with remaining ingredients, season with ore salt & pepper and serve.

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The textures and sweet, fall flavors in this dish were intense!

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Plus, Ben won’t touch this with a ten foot pole, so I get all the leftovers for lunch this week – score! ;) (He’s getting dinner at work tonight, icyww!)

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Ok, with a full belly and zen mind (ohm) I am off to tackle my to-dos. Wish me luck! ;)

~~~~~

What are the biggest causes of stress in your life? How do you deal with it?

PS Check out my Fiesta Cheese Dip on the Wisconsin Cheese Talk Blog. This might be my new favorite dip EVER. I made it for tailgating a few weeks ago and it was a HIT!

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