5 Mindful Habits for a Calmer Week
I'm always looking for ways to cut down on stress in my life. I tend to be a worrier and there are times when my anxious thoughts get the best of me. By now, it's a known fact that stress suppresses the immune system which means it's easier for you to get sick. Basically, it's doctor's orders to be zen ;) Either way, it's no fun walking around with stress and worry. These habits below have either been a part of my weekly routine for a while or they are things that I am currently trying to make a habit of mine (ya'll can keep me accountable). I believe that small decisions, like below, can add up and make a big impact on your overall stress level and health. Read on and let me know if you agree!
- MEAL PLAN: I don't know how people wait till the night of to figure out what's for dinner. It would be so tempting to just go to the drive-thru every single night! The last thing I want to do after work is figure out what we want, then what we need, go to the store, and THEN cook. We would eat at 9pm if that was the case! Ever since I got married, I would plan out meals the weekend before and then do all of our grocery shopping on a Saturday or Sunday before the week starts. It became a bit of a ritual for Nic and I. Wake up on a Saturday, get some breakfast together, then head to the grocery store. Lately it's been Sundays after church. A mundane activity can be fun with the right person or perhaps that is a chance for you to get some alone time! It has saved us time and money because we only make one trip a week and only buy things on our list.
- UTILIZE LEFTOVERS: When you look at your schedule for the week, plan on cooking more than you need for the nights that you have to go from one thing to the next (see previous tip!). There are a couple nights a week where we get home from work and have about 30 minutes (sometimes less!) to cook and eat before we head to a bible study group or other event. Leftovers are life-savers on nights like these and take away unnecessary stress.
- CLEAR OFF SURFACES BEFORE BED: Clutter = Stress. It's incredible how much cleaner a home looks when countertops and tabletops are clear. Personally, clutter makes me feel overwhelmed and it's difficult for me to focus on anything else when things are out of place or sprawled out everywhere. I don't mean taking out a mop and bucket or deep cleaning the stove every night. Just clear off the coffee table, kitchen table, bathroom and kitchen counters. Sometimes I just place a pile in the closet to organize at another time if that's all I have time or energy for (no shame). When I make the conscious decision to tidy up before bedtime, I tend to wake up in the morning a little less stressed and a little more calm. When your day gets off to a great start, there's no stopping you!
- TURN OFF ELECTRONICS: I'm a homebody in every sense of the word so there's not much more that I love than to be at home with my husband and catch up on our favorite shows. But there does come a time when life can get a little "loud" and I just feel the need to turn off the noise, literally and figuratively. Turn off the tv, put your phone out of sight, and close the laptop. Open a book, go for a walk, work on that project you've been meaning to get started on (or finish), or bake something for a neighbor or friend (and then save a little for yourself). There's a chance you'll be more productive which means less is looming over your head. If anything, it's a chance for you to re-set and re-charge.
- HAVE DESIGNATED QUIET TIME: This piggy backs off the previous tip but it is a lot more consistent and intentional. There's something about waking up early before everyone else and having a quiet home with plenty of time to prepare for the day. I hate feeling rushed to get ready for work, eat breakfast, prepare lunch, etc. Because let's be honest, at least one of those things doesn't happen when I'm rushing around in the morning. If I set a consistent time to wake up early, I have plenty of time to read my bible or devotional book, do yoga, and even get a head-start on dinner for that night. When your day starts off slow and calm, the rest of your day is more likely to follow suit.
One final thought: Be easy on yourself. And by "yourself", I'm really talking to MYself because I need to be aware that these things aren't always going to be a reality based on the season of life I'm in. Life happens. You get sick or you forget about an event that was supposed to be your grocery-shopping time, or you're too tired to clean up before bed. Don't let that stress you out. Accept it and try again next time! Don't set yourself up for failure by holding unrealistic expectations for yourself or for your upcoming week.
I would love to hear ways that YOU make your week more easy-going and stress-free!