#CalmTip: Know Your Stress Signals

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Stress (and worry and overwhelm and anxiety) manifests itself in different ways in each of us. When you become aware of your signals, you’ll be better able to handle your stressors when they come and be proactive instead of reactive to stressful situations.

Since I’ve begun to notice what my signs of stress are, I’m able to do something to combat the stress before it gets out of control.

Some of the signals are:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Feeling really tired/exhaustion
  • Frustration
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Racing mind/difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced productivity
  • Shoulders hunched/tense
  • Clenched jaw

Read more signs here.

To recognize your own signals more easily, regularly check in with yourself, and pay attention to what you’re doing and how you’re feeling — mentally and physically.

“When you release stress, you come home to yourself.” – Donna Eden

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/Michael Simons

#CalmTip: Take Care of You

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As women with lots of responsibilities, it’s easy to put ourselves on the backburner and forget about what we need. But we have to remember that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we ultimately burn ourselves out, become resentful, and are not be able to do what we need to. When you take care of you, you feel less stress and tension and have more peace and joy.

With that said, here are three ways you can start making sure you’re taken care of:

  1. Exercise. Working out relieves stress, and, of course, keeps your body and mind healthy and strong. You don’t have to do a one or two hour workout at the gym daily (unless that’s your thing). Fifteen to 30 minutes a day is beneficial as well. Just find what works for you, and get moving.
  2. Eat well, and stay hydrated. A couple of ways to improve your diet: 1. Meal plan (Determining what you and/or your family will eat for the week helps you incorporate healthier foods and can save you time); and 2. Gradually increase your fruit and/or veggie intake, and replace what you usually eat. For example, instead of grabbing a bag of chips for your afternoon snack, try veggie chips or carrot sticks. And to up your water intake, try a water tracker app or buy a bottle that lets you know how much you’ve drank. (by the way, you can find out how much you should be drinking here).
  3. Take time for yourself. Whether it’s five or 15 minutes, take time to just be with yourself (by yourself) daily. You can meditate, read, pray, visualize, whatever. I like to do this in the morning to prepare myself for the day ahead and again at night to decompress. Figure out what works best for you, then do that.
  4. Make sure you’re good emotionally and mentally. Regularly check in with how you’re feeling by literally asking yourself, ‘How do I feel right now?’ and checking in with your body, which can let you know if you’re feeling tense (like if your shoulders are hunched or jaw is clenched). You can also journal on a regular basis as a way of releasing any emotions you don’t want and figuring out how you can feel better.

“‘Taking care of yourself’ is not an extra thing to add to your to do list. It is the foundation of life.” – Sarah Yost

How do you make sure you’re taken care of? Share below by leaving a comment. : )

P.S. — Need help with this area of your life? Let’s work together one-on-one!

#CalmTip: Sleep

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Sleep. We all need it, but most of us don’t get nearly enough it. I know a lot of people love to post the whole ‘they sleep, we grind’ trope on social media, but let me tell you, I’m not ’bout that life. I love my sleep.

And while I do believe there are days when you have to sacrifice your sleep to get things done, it should not be a regular occurrence. #sorrynotsorry You cannot sustain a successful business/life with no rest!

Getting enough sleep can:

  • Reduce stress and improve your mood
  • Help you think more clearly
  • Keep you from getting sick as much
  • Lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes

Trust me, I know how difficult it can be to get more sleep, especially when you have small children. But for what it’s worth, here are a few tips to try:

  1. Take a nap (if possible). Since I work from home — with my daughter here most days — it can be difficult to get everything done that I need to when she’s awake. I often end up working at night, after she goes to sleep, which means I usually don’t get as much as I’d like. So, some days when she takes her nap, I take one, too. It does wonders for my mood and productivity.
  2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other chemicals that may hinder sleep for four to six hours before bedtime.
  3. Create a bedtime routine. You can read more on that here.
  4. Keep your internal clock set with a consistent sleep schedule. When you go to bed and wake up the same time daily, you set your body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time each night. Also, try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends; that way, you’ll fend off a Monday morning sleep hangover.

Need more tips for sleep? Get them here.

“Sleep is the best meditation.” – The Dalai Lama

#CalmTip: Mindfulness Meditation

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, renowned mindfulness meditation instructor, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It can be practiced anywhere, any time, and you can even do it while you’re walking, eating, or cleaning.

To practice mindfulness meditation while sitting is simple:

  1. Focus on your breath, the inhalations and exhalations.
  2. When thoughts come to you, don’t try to force them out; instead, observe them in a friendly, nonjudgmental manner.
  3. Then, return your focus back to your breath.

Benefits of mindfulness/mindfulness meditation include inducing the relaxation response, reducing anxiety, and encouraging positive thought patterns and attitudes.

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

#CalmTip: Declutter

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to zenhabits.net, here are some of the benefits of decluttering:

  • Less stressful. Clutter can be a lot of visual distraction and mental stress.
  • More efficient. Since there aren’t as many distractions, you’ll probably be able to focus better.
  • More peaceful. Your home will likely be more serene if it’s uncluttered.
  • Saves you time. If your home is cluttered, you’ll have to look for things, move things, store things, and take things out of storage. While decluttering takes time in the beginning, it’ll likely save you more time in the long run.

Since January is Get Organized Month, choose one of the strategies below and give it a try. If you find one too difficult, try another:

Start clearing a starting zone. Clear one area, which will be your no-clutter zone. Whether you start with the counter, your kitchen table, or the three-foot perimeter around your couch, make a rule: Nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything has to be put away. Once you have that clutter-free zone, keep it that way. And each day, slowly expand your no-clutter zone until it envelopes your entire house.

Schedule a decluttering weekend. You might not feel like doing a huge decluttering session at the moment, but if you schedule it for later this month, you can clear your schedule to make it happen. And if you have a family, get them involved. Have boxes and trash bags on hand, and plan a trip to a charity for items you’re donating. Although you may not declutter your entire house in one weekend, you’ll probably make a lot of progress.

Get more tips here.

“Organization isn’t about perfection, it’s about efficiency, reducing stress & clutter, saving time & money & improving your overall quality of life.” – Christina Scalise

 

 

#CalmTip: Decide What YOU Want

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

It’s almost 2016, so now is the perfect time to figure out (then write down) what you want to see happen next year. But when you do, make sure it’s what YOU want.

At times, we tend to want or do something because it’s what someone else wants for us. Pursuing a life our parents or society thinks we should have can leave us feeling frustrated and anxious because we know it’s not what we truly desire. Decide what you want for yourself so you can be fulfilled and live a life you love.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

#CalmTip: Let Go

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

We’re almost at the end of another month and another year, so this is a great time to let go of those things that no longer serve you. When we hold on to those things, we allow them to shape our actions and can even create serious health issues by us holding on to that stress. So whether it’s a person, a relationship, a situation, a belief, or a thought, if it’s not bringing any good to your life, let it go.

Here are a few tips for letting go from tinybuddha.com (read all of them here):

  • Change your perception.
  • Cry.
  • Use meditation or yoga to bring you into the present moment.
  • Focus all your energy on what you can control.
  • Replace your thoughts.

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” – Ajahn Chah

 

#CalmTip: Ask for Help

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As Black women, it can be difficult for us to ask for help. It’s been ingrained in most of us to be the “strong Black woman,” meaning we’re supposed to handle whatever life throws our way on our own; we’re not supposed to show signs of weakness, vulnerability, or needing help.

After I had Nailah, it was hard for me to ask for help even though I knew I needed it (and sometimes, admittedly, it still is. And I didn’t want to ask for a number of reasons: I felt like since I was her mother, I needed to be responsible enough to handle everything; if I admitted that I needed help, it would be a sign of weakness; and I felt guilty for needing help because I worked from home, so how hard could it be to do everything (and do it well?) /sarcasm. I finally realized we all need assistance sometimes, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. Needing help simply means we’re human  (welcome — there are, like, 7 billion of us). It’s important to remember that we can’t do everything on our own. So, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need; you totally deserve it.

“Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

#CalmTip: Practice Self-Care Daily

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Since I’ve become a mama, I’ve realized that when I make an effort to take care of myself, I’m much more at peace and am better able to handle the curve balls throughout the day. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of time to practice self-care every day. Even 10-15 minutes is beneficial . Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Read a novel.
  • Do nothing.
  • Catch up on one of your shows.
  • Spend time with a loved one.
  • Do yoga or exercise.

Get a free PDF with more ideas here.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day

#CalmTip: Do Less

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

If you’re like most of us, you have a lot going on and several responsibilities. So, you might be wondering why today’s tip is “do less.” Well, doing less can improve your focus (because when you do too much, you’re probably switching from task to task, constantly being distracted); you’ll have more time for the things you enjoy; and, of course, it helps you create calm because you’re not allowing yourself to be pulled in many different directions.

Here are tips for doing less (from Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net):

  1. Slowly cut back on non-essential commitments
  2. Single-task and focus
  3. Set limits on how many things you do daily
  4. Focus on what’s important first before you get distracted.

“Do less with more focus.”