Live more. Stress Less.

27 Jan

What’s important to you? Take a look at my home environment and you would be spot on for believing that apple pie order is a priority for me.  Yeah, I’m a clean freak and my hubby is a neat freak. Match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. If you visited our house, you would no doubt leave wondering how we manage to keep it looking so spotless and uncluttered, particularly with young kids running round. The dishes are always done, beds made, bathroom disinfected, toys stored in colour-coded boxes and the toilet paper folded into a pretty triangle after every use!  Well, almost.  

It takes a certain level of commitment on a daily basis to live that way but it is high on my list of essentials because it makes me feel calm, collected and like I have my sh*t sorted!  It’s not something I feel compelled to do in order to regain a sense of control in what can sometimes be a very chaotic state of being. Or is it?

Excessive drinking, smoking, shopping, and yes, even cleaning, can be distractions.  They take our focus from one area and move it to another place that offers temporary respite.  These habits are often the things we do unconsciously to fill a gap or get a rush of feel-good endorphins when panic threatens to overwhelm.  Is this a surprise in a modern society that generally values the busiest and seemingly most productive members?  Moreover, am I the only one with kids who feels like daily life is sometimes a battle of epic proportions??  Having one child, let alone three before the age of 30 can be a bit of a challenge.  Just ask my husband!  There are times when you find yourself running around in a blur of ‘doing’ -feeding, bathing, calming, cleaning, playing and screaming. It gets ugly sometimes people!      

Obviously I am far from immune to such distractions, but I’m getting way better at identifying my survival mode and squashing it.  How can I tell when I’m in survival mode? My actions start getting more frantic.  I try and do more in less time and I try and do it all at once.   The stress levels rise, jaw-clenching begins and eventually I get to a point where I am no longer able to think clearly. Sound familiar?

For me, the antidote is a mix of prevention and learning to refocus on the present moment.  It’s the age old saying about having a fence at the top of the cliff, rather than an ambulance waiting at the bottom for someone to fall.  Making time to read, exercise and relax regularly may seem like lofty ideals when you have a family, work and social life to contend with.  However, I have learnt the hard way that they really do help to prevent my stress levels from rising to a furor.  I like to refer to them as my ‘preventative activities’ or things that I choose to do on a regular basis to stop my mean girl coming out. Nuff said.

Learning or attempting something new, with a certain degree of difficulty can also be hugely beneficial.  Doing difficult things helps foster personal confidence and strength. Over time, these challenges lead to a sense of personal mastery and accomplishment that can boost our limits of endurance.  Maybe it’s tackling a foreign language, learning to play an instrument or revisiting a sport that you last played when you were ten. Initially it can be a little uncomfortable and frustrating.  But with time and determination, a little bit of progress can be made each day. In a year or two, your learning and performance in this area will have improved profoundly.  Additionally, you will reap the residual effects of learned persistence.  The activity in question is going to be different for everyone.  Figure out what is meaningful or just plain fun to you and pursue it.  Not half assed but whole-heartedly!

 Choosing to remain in the present moment is another proven stress buster for me.  It’s a habit that I am still practicing but I’m telling you, it works.  Learning to shake off life’s’ inevitable annoyances is not always easy, but it is possible. You can get irritated when your four year old chats loudly and incessantly, wiping yoghurt on her freshly changed top and demanding you watch her every dance move when you are trying to get some work done.  Similarly it can be disconcerting just how slowly small kids walk when you are already running 10 minutes late for school and have a meeting to get to. In situations like this, I try and remind myself that I can choose to react in an irritated manner or I can take a breath, give a little laugh and just go with it.  Ok, maybe not a laugh, but at least a half hearted sigh.  Either way, we can always choose our response and attitude in any potentially stressful situation and make it work for us.

 I’m not saying I have it all down-pat. Far from it (just ask my husband!).  There are times when I fall back into that stressed out survival mode but I try to remain aware of it and take a moment to refocus myself in the present.  Sometimes it just takes a few quiet deep breaths or a second where I can look into the eyes of my girls and experience that deep sense of connection. Other times, I crank up the stereo when I’m driving and sing loudly and unapologetically, while sucking up some of our beautiful Queensland sunshine.  Immediately I am brought back to the present and able to identify with that core that is free and adventurous.   Boo yah – I’m back in the moment and feeling fine!

The point is – this is your life. Design it the way you want to live it.  You can choose to survive (something so easy to fall into when you have little people to look after), or you can choose to LIVE.   You can get by on those to-do lists and endless obligations, struggling to keep up with the Joneses and buying more stuff which frankly, you do not need. Or, you can dwell in the land of small pleasures, powerful intentions and boundless opportunities.  

Live more. Stress less.  That’s what I’m doing today.

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5 Responses to “Live more. Stress Less.”

  1. Ria Galvin February 17, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Hi Kirri, I am so proud of you. How cool is your blog. Encouraging others supporting others and taking them to other levels. Like what you did with me. I will never forget what you have done for me. God bless you heaps. Everything is looking so professional and neat. You are the best coach in the world. Warmest regards from Ria Galvin

    • Kirri White February 19, 2011 at 6:27 am #

      It was my pleasure Ria. Thanks for looking me up!

  2. Terry February 19, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    I love the way you admit fallibility and yet you clearly succeed. You are inspirational young lady.

    Admittedly, 3 adorable little girls help…who’d have thought that as a career woman a few short years ago??

    Looking forward to your next insight.

  3. Renee February 22, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    Great read.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Release your stress – Part 1 « Happy Mums at Home - June 29, 2011

    […] This is why I’ve decided to do a series of posts on minimising and releasing stress. […]

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