Prince Charming and I, adventurers that we are, created a perfect storm of stress by following this recipe:
Take 5 of the unofficial list of the top 10 most stressful life events you can undergo:
- Having a baby.
- Leaving a job.
- Moving to a new continent.
- Writing a book while launching a separate product.
- Moving back in with the parents as an adult.
Stir. Then bake under an oven set at 350 degrees of jet lag and reverse culture shock.
My pulse is racing just listing out this recipe for stress.
So what's the recipe for serenity?
I've had an extra push of creativity these past few months, probably because I'm anticipating being completely and happily lost in baby-la-la land for a while once the little elf gets here sometime in early December. Stress stifles creativity, so it's important for me to keep those stress levels as low as possible. (Oh, and that's right, it's good for the baby too.)
These tips might help you even if you aren't pregnant, but just going through a stressful time, as all of us normal human beings tend to do from time to time.
Here are some things that have worked for me to keep stress levels at bay so I can stay creative and keep working on the latest book and finish the 30-Day Map to Get Rid of Your Crap. I'd be lying if I said the following keep me in a state of queenly serenity 100% of the time, but they do keep me royally calm at least 3% of the time. Or maybe I just do them 3% of the time and it would help if I...
Do These Things More
1. Marrying well.
Well, this is actually not a habit I do regularly, but something I did once, and did well, even if I do say so myself. He recently asked me "what do you want for lunch, baby?" And I said, "Hmmm... I think Shrimp. Lime Cilantro Shrimp." This exchange happened in front of my mom, and she immediately laughed and said something like "If you can give that answer, you know you married well."
Besides keeping me well-fed, Prince Charming is incredibly supportive about all my creative endeavors. And even my eccentric pregnancy plans, like studying hypnosis for a more comfortable birth.
Somehow it feels like cheating to call it yoga, because it's mostly stretching and deep breathing for me since I don't know the names of any of the poses. (Except for shivasana, my favorite.) I've taken a lot of yoga classes, so I just do a lot of yogic stretching of any part that is soar or tight. It feels great and seems to help everything in life.
3. Sleeping a lot and taking naps.
I have always slept a lot, and of course now I'm sleeping for two, so I take as much horizontal time as my body wants. For a while in Palestine my sleep pattern was bimodal. According to Wikipedia, "Along with a nap (siesta) in the day, it has been argued that this is the natural pattern of human sleep. A case has been made that maintaining such a sleep pattern may be important in regulating stress."
My body naturally started bifurcating my sleep when I was worried about our friends in Gaza during the ethnic cleansing massacres there this summer, worried about Prince Charming working in Gaza, and anxious about where and how I would bring our baby into the world. Now that I'm back in the US and feeling that my family is safer, I've been sleeping through the night and not needing naps so much.
4. Ability to work on the floor of a closet.
I'm writing this while squatting in front of my computer on the floor of a large walk-in closet. I love it. All I need to write is a private space, even if it's small.
5. Writing every single appointment down in Google Calendar.
I love Google Calendar. It did take me a while to get used to checking it and adding everything to it. But now that it's habit, it helps so much because otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep track of appointments, travel plans, and birthdays. Even if I'm not in a particularly busy phase of life, I rely on Google Calendar and tend to forget things when I don't use it.
6. Eating tons of fruit and vegetables.
I have our nugget to thank for this, because the little monkey loves bananas and other fruit. I wake up craving a big fruit smoothie that I often add greens to like spinach and kale. I still eat plenty of pizza, I just try to load up on fresh produce as well. I polished off a watermelon this morning.
This one is so hard for me to do regularly. I skip days all the time. But if I can sit down in a quiet place for even 10 minutes, it seems to help. I don't really follow a particular technique. Sometimes I sit and breath and clear my mind. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I meditate on things I'm grateful for, or do a forgiveness meditation. I just got an email from Charming's mom about this free meditation series. Maybe I'll do it.
8. Just doing it. (The creative work.)
Have you heard that the concept of will power is a myth? People who are able to stop procrastinating have learned skills to get the work done. I sometimes think of those skills as tricking myself, or turning things into a game. I don't sit down to write books because I have more will power than all the other people who want to write books, but don't. I sit down to write, probably because I told myself there might be chocolate involved, or that maybe after writing I'd get to belt out "Let it Go" with Elsa from Frozen one more time. (I don't even have a kid I can blame that on yet.) Or, like right now, that I'll just START this blog post and it will be just a few words then I'll get up. And here I am at the bottom of the post. Ha ha, Genevieve. Tricked ya again!
What do you do in stressful times to stay serene? Please share in the comments so everyone on the internet can learn from your experience.