Hello, Friend! This is Jen Stevenson.
Welcome back, and today we are talking about ways to feel like you’re in control of your life when you feel like everything is out of control.
So, we are going to talk about things that we need to do. We need to try to keep stress and anxiety low, change our mindset and take care of ourselves. And I’m going to share with you ideas and practices for you. I’ve got six of them here today and you can utilize those and please feel free to share those with other people who need them right now.
So, we’re going to start out with the first one being accepting change. That’s a hard one and I think for some people it’s easier. For some people even the slightest change can set their whole world spinning. And 2020 and the pandemic has definitely forced change on I think pretty much everyone. I’m not sure if there’s anyone who hasn’t been affected by this. And so, with that, some people might be getting better at it because they’ve been practicing it for a while now. But things do change from day to day, week to week, month to month. This is true throughout all of our life. And so, I want to have you practice something that seems simple but makes a big difference and that is to tell yourself and let yourself know you’re okay with change and say it out loud. “I’m okay with change. I’m okay with change.” It’s amazing how much our mind and body work together. So that in itself can make a difference. It can help you in times that feel like they’re spiraling if you pause to say that and say it out loud.
Also, another thing, to write it down. And it’s a really good thing to work our mindset with because again, everything is always changing. That’s the one constant is that everything changes. So, let’s work through it. And within that, it’s okay if this is hard for you. It’s not going to be easy. It’s okay if this is hard. It’s not a bad thing. And with that, feel free to seek support, whether you have a community you can go to, a friend, a counselor. You can join us here at Ready, Set, Jen because just remember, you’re not alone. Everybody is experiencing this and we’re here for you and we want to help.
The second part we’re going to focus on is not dwelling on your negatives when you’re already feeling challenged. I think we have a tendency to spiral into that when we feel negative. We seem to draw out and find everything else we don’t like about ourselves, about our lives, about our finances, about our husband, about our children. So instead of focusing on that, we’re going to try to change those negatives into a challenge. We need to remember; this is a moment in time. And again, our constant is that things are always changing. So, we don’t have to get stuck here. If for some reason your brain just won’t let those negatives out and won’t let you just be in this place right now, write those down. They might be things that you’ve been wanting to, like myself personally, I have a tendency to be kind of hard on myself about my body and for me it’s challenging to work out. And I always say, I have to not know I’m working out. So, if I’m playing some kind of sport or I’m playing basketball or I’m running around with the kids and I don’t know I’m getting exercise, that’s, like, my favorite kind of exercise. Then I have a tendency to all of a sudden think I need to fix that and then I’m really critical of my body, my routines, whether or not I worked out when I know I want to be working out.
So those things, I just need to set them aside. I know they’re always there, but I need to put them in my notebook and I’m going to focus on that when I have the energy to do that. But right now, if I’m in a place where things are harder than normal, that’s going to be something I’m going to focus on later because I need to be strong to get through today or tomorrow or this week. And then I can start creating those things into a habit, so they go alongside my life instead of being something so big and so unobtainable that I don’t want to do it.
So that’s a whole other area that coming back to the notebook and working on those things. What I do want to encourage you to do is to brainstorm how those things make you feel and how it would feel if you changed it and what it would take to change it. Sometimes when we feel like we’re not in control, those things can seem ten times bigger than they are. If we address them, even if we just put little notes next to them, we don’t have to do them today or tomorrow but letting ourselves know they’re obtainable.
My example, if I had in there “Working out,” I could put notes next to that, “working out for ten minutes daily.” It might be as simple as doing some squats, some pushups, maybe doing something to get my cardio up. Or I could put something in there about joining a club to play basketball. And knowing that there’s a solution helps the mindset be calm as well.
So, our third piece of it is we’re going to create lists and goals that are achievable for your new daily routine. So, we’re going to put some stuff together so that we can feel like we’re in control of something right now. That’s what we need, we need to feel like we’re in control of something right now if everything feels like it’s out of control. And so, we’re going to create these lists and goals and we’re going to make these part of our daily routines. And we’re going to list things that are achievable, or we can break those down and then what we want to do with that is to celebrate our wins so if we’re doing these things where we have our lists and we’re checking our lists off.
And I’m talking about simple stuff here. This can be just the daily schedule of getting up, getting ready, working, getting the kids to school, eating a salad for lunch. Just simple stuff but then we’re going to celebrate those wins. I’m going to talk a little bit more about taking care of your health in section 6 so that can be stuff that goes onto your list as well. Again, we’re just looking for things that are obtainable and that we can celebrate our wins. And as we are winning and we’re good to ourselves and we’re positive, we can feel stronger and then that’s going to help us be able to tackle the bigger challenges and accept the changes when they come. Because we’re going to be stronger and what we know we’re capable of and we’re going to be feeling better and we’re going to be okay when those things come about.
So that leads into number 4, which is mindset. I want to focus on gratefulness. Gratefulness is something that’s going to change your perspective in life and make us overall happier. And it’s a great practice and it’s a great practice to teach people around us, to teach our children. And so, when I’m talking about gratefulness, I’m talking about the things we have, like family, a warm home, food to eat, a job, a supportive husband, crazy dogs that make you laugh. We’re talking about those things that we are grateful for that we overlook, that we take for granted sometimes. When you really stop to break that down and think about it, oh my goodness. Like, I am cold all the time, I just run cold so I can’t imagine just not having a warm home. I can’t imagine not having my family. So, things that I’m grateful for could be completely different to the things that you’re grateful for.
And again, this is a place we want to stay positive. So, we don’t want to run in to that place again where we’re dwelling on our negatives or things we don’t have. The whole purpose of the gratefulness mindset is to be grateful for what we do have, small or large: blankets, shoes, if we have a speaker that plays amazing music that makes us really happy, a really fuzzy soft cat to snuggle with. All of those things are things we can be grateful for.
Along with gratefulness comes positivity. And again, positivity is one of those pieces that’s going to overall create more happiness. And it’s going to be a reflection of how you cope with the challenges in the future, how you cope with your challenges right now. And so, we can make a choice and it is our choice. We can react to things.
Let’s look at our morning because we all do this. And sometimes things just start piling on top of each other and before you get to your car, your coffeepot overflows and then you have the whole can’t find your keys for at least seven minutes. All my A.D.D. friends know what this one’s like. When you go to make your lunch, your lettuce is moldy so you can’t make your sandwich. By the time you get in the car, you’re just, like, done. You’re over it. Like, you feel like you’ve already done all the energy you can handle in one day.
This goes back to the gratefulness along with the positivity. This is when I’m driving into work and I go, hey, at least I have a car to drive to work. Thank goodness we have coffee at work. And you know what, I like the creamer there better. So it’s seeing the positive in things and not dwelling on the negatives because, again, life happens. They’re going to happen. So, the odds of the coffeepot overflowing again sometime in your life is really good. The odds of not being able to find your keys again are really good. But those are those things we just have to stay positive about and then go into our gratefulness mode, again, of celebrating the fact that we have a car to drive to work, we have a job to go to. And coffee is like an awesome bonus so if we can have coffee, hey, we have coffee in our lives. So, stay positive and practice that mindset. That was just one example but follow us and we’ll teach you more of those ideas and ways to do that.
Another thing you can do is try a new activity that makes you happy. So, remember we’re in that mindset category right now. And sometimes we just need something to stimulate us, get us out of kind of this, like, lull we’re in or just to make us happy. Like, I look back and I used to love things like rollerblading, scrapbooking, all these things are things I loved at some point in time. As life changed or technology changed or timing changed, I mean, it’s all kinds of different things that went on. But those things, I would probably still enjoy them, but I don’t enjoy them like I like other things. Sometimes I feel like we get so wrapped up in life and then we kind of forget about the stuff that makes us happy. Or we get to a place where we’re like, well, I used to like scrapbooking, but I don’t dig it all anymore. Like, it’s not my thing, which is fine. But we just need to find new activities that do make us happy and explore those and put yourself in a place that’s not as comfortable. Try something new because until you do it, you never know.
I stinking love laser tag. Like, we did it as a family for Christmas last year and I couldn’t get enough. Like, I wanted to go back in, back in. And look out because I do get a little competitive. It’s super fun. So, I never knew I loved laser tag but I freaking love laser tag.
So, our next one in our mindset category is to laugh. Okay, I laugh a lot and I kind of have an obnoxious laugh. Like, people know when I’m in the building. I don’t mean to, I guess I just always had it. So always be laughing whether it’s at yourself because you’ve got to do that too. Like, you’ve got to laugh at yourself. When you trip up the stairs, as long as you don’t get hurt, I mean, that’s a great laugh. So, don’t be so serious in life. Don’t worry about who’s watching you, what’s going on. Like, keep it light and laugh. If you need an extra little pinch to get you there, pull up some comedians online or YouTube and find somebody that’s your style that makes you laugh. Like, a good hearty belly laugh is good for everybody. Laugh at your kids, your husband, your best friend, the crazy stuff your dog does. Whatever it takes, find a way to laugh and then make other people laugh.
And then the last part of our mindset section, keep in mind that everything has a solution. So, this has been the biggest thing I’ve been working with on my kiddo. She’s 11 and she has A.D.D. and she has the strong emotional piece of it, and it makes it hard. Everything, it’s very real to her. Like, she’s sensitive to stuff and things bother her. Things can, like, stop her whole world. And something that’s been really great for her, everything has a solution. And if you really think about that, it is so true. So, when things are really challenging or you’re just feeling really defeated, keep in mind that everything has a solution. You might need to take a break from the moment to find that solution. You may need to do some journaling, you may have to reach out to some people. But keep in mind, everything has a solution.
So, moving on to number 5 in controlling our lives when we feel like everything is out of control. Avoid things that make you worry or anything that cerates negativity. So, for myself personally, I avoid the news. I know it sounds crazy. My mom always says, “How do you do that? You’ve got to know what’s going on in the world.” This is where I go back to, okay, I’m a hairstylist. If there’s something I need to know, somebody in my chair will tell me. So that’s just me, but I mean, honestly, if there’s something that big, somebody is going to tell me. And I always say, it’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I care too much. And so therefore, I take everything in, and I internalize and I worry. If you enjoy the news or it’s part of your routine and something you want to be part of, then just take a break here and there, especially when you’re feeling more worried or things feel negative.
The other thing is, stop scrolling through Facebook or skip over the negative. You don’t need to read the conversations. A lot of times people like to get into debates about things and go deeper into it and I feel like sometimes that right there can just drag me down. It’s hard sometimes If you have a tendency to, like, not only feel passionate about the subject but then you feel passionate about the person who’s commenting, or you can’t understand why they would go that way with things. And so, it just creates a lot of extra emotions that you really don’t need.
And then the other thing is, join some positive pages. Watch some of your favorite things on Instagram. I know for me, I feel like Instagram is a lot of my positive things. It’s all the stuff I love. Like, I have, like, a place where flowers are, so just an abundance of flowers. So beautiful flowers, it makes me so happy.
And then the other thing that I love, like, I have Cabo San Lucas, the resort that we stayed at a couple years ago. And I love seeing what they’re posting, seeing the beach, seeing happy people. So, I just put a lot of my favorite happy things in there.
I really enjoy looking at other stylists’ work. So, I’ll go in and watch kind of some videos or their before and afters and just positive energy, positive things. So again, whether you like photography, hunting, decorating, there are so many great things on Instagram that you can focus on. The likes and the positives really help your mindset if you still feel like you need to be in that social media realm.
Another thing with that is, don’t compare yourself to anybody on social media. That again goes into that whole positivity and negativity and dwelling on the negatives. I feel like we fall back into that dragging ourselves down because we’re looking at everyone else and for some reason, we want to be that way or we’re adding it to the I’m-not-good-enough bucket. Nope. We’re not going to do that. So, keep that in mind when you’re looking at social media.
And then another way to keep your worry and negativity down is you might have to keep a little bit of distance or take a break from certain friends or family members. If that’s not an option, then keep those conversations short. There are certain people in our lives that when we talk to them, we feel really drained. Or maybe you call them because you’re super excited to tell them something new and by the time you get done and you hang up the phone, you’re like, ugh. Like, you’re just back in this strange place. So those are some of your people that you just need to kind of put a barrier up or take a break from right now. And just do what you need to do for yourself and for your mental health right now. And it’s nothing against them. Maybe when you’re feeling stronger too it could be a conversation. If there’s somebody who continuously makes you feel that way, that if you feel like it’s appropriate that you can address and talk to them about. But if you need a break from them, it’s okay.
Lastly for this section for avoiding things that make you worry or create negativity, keep in mind that sometimes we are strong and then sometimes we’re just not. And if you don’t have the energy to help others, protect yourself so you can be strong from people depending on you and don’t stretch yourself too far. So, when I say the people depending on you, that person can be you and you just need that extra energy and that time for yourself or you just don’t have that energy to give to other people right now. It’s okay and it’s okay to recognize that and it’s okay to kind of put a bubble around yourself too if you need to protect, you know, your life, your work, your home. Because you need to put your energy right there right now. And then when you are strong again, go back and reach out to those people and help those people that you love helping. And if you can’t be there for them right now, be honest with them and just let them know. They’ll understand. And also, you can always help them have a different resource or a direction to help them with their situation so you don’t feel guilt behind protecting yourself and your family. So always keep that in a positive light but do do that. Put that boundary up. It’s okay to be real with people and you can let them know, “Hey, I’m struggling a little bit right now and because of that, I’m just kind of pulling away from things and allowing myself to focus on my health and my well-being.” Or “Right now my kids really need me. They are at home for school and they’re struggling with some of their reading or math and I just really need to use that extra time to be there for them.” It also helps people understand where you’re at. They can be supportive for you because it does feel good. Even if they’re having a hard time right now or needing some extra, you’d be surprised how it can make them feel better just being a support for you. So, don’t be shy about that.
And then last of all is taking care of your health. I think we have a tendency to push it aside when we’re busy. Sometimes even when things are good, we do this. We get going because things are good and we just are, like, riding this high of life or this raise at work or whatever it is. And so, we put so much energy and excitement into that that we forget to take care of our own health. And some of that is just as simple as drinking lots of water. I know we hear that all the time and I know a lot of people are like, ugh, water. I don’t like water. So, there’s creative ways to work around that. But water not only hydrates us, that’s what we always hear about, but you got to remember, it’s flushing toxins too. So, it’s getting a lot of stuff out of our body and so it’s amazing how good you can feel and it’s good for our brain too. Like, the rest of our body wants to be hydrated, our brain wants to be hydrated. So just make sure you drink lots of water and try to, you know, avoid sugary drinks and things like that and get that water in you or make it a balance. It’s not all or nothing.
And then exercising. Even if it’s only 5 or 15 minutes per day, try to do something fun like running in the yard with your dog or shooting some hoops with your kiddos, playing your favorite song and, like, dancing like a crazy person all over your house. You’d be surprised how good that feels and it gets your cardio up, it gets your exercise going. I try to do some squats, some pushups and working those muscles. But even if it’s just minimal, do something and try to make it daily.
The next thing I want to talk about is stretching. And I think this is one that we overlook all the time that’s going to keep us feeling good. It’s going to keep those aches and pains down and it’s going to get us started out really well for the day. It kind of gets, like, the oxygen flowing through the body. So always keep in mind, stretching and learn more about it so you know how long or what to stretch so you’re not hurting yourself. Try to make that a priority. Or even if it’s something that, again, kind of like the working out. if you think of it and you only have four minutes to do it, stretch some of those things that are going to open up the core, open up your lungs. Or if you have challenges with your back, like, do those things that are going to stretch your back. Or your hands. Like, doing hair for a living, you have to stretch your hands or you’re never going to make it. So, I’m always really aware and I do a lot of that in the car when I’m driving to work because I can use the steering wheel to kind of stretch on. So, I always try to do those so I’m stretched and ready for my day.
The next one we’re going to talk about is exploring natural medicine or supplements or things such as food in your diet. Some light therapy, some vitamin d, there’s a lot of things that our bodies need that they might not be getting. And also, things that can be mood boosters. So, for myself when I lived in Minnesota, I had a really hard time with, like, seasonal depression. Always. And I think it was multiple things. You know, the days were darker, it was cold, and I love being outside but I hate being cold. So, I didn’t spend as much time outside and I just felt like I wasn’t getting as much sunshine. So, there’s a lot of things you can do to help with that. Like I said, even some light therapy. If you’re not familiar, check that out.
And also, if somebody needs an antidepressant, like, explore that option too. I know there’s a lot of stigma around that and the thing is, if you need that, you need that. Like, that is a chemical imbalance in your brain. So, it’s not choosing to just be happy or cheer up, you know, pull through. Like, if it’s legit, it’s going to be hard to do that on your own. So again, there’s different ways to do that more natural; the supplements and diet and things like that or if you just need that extra umph. But talk to your doctor or your counselor, whoever you know can help you with that. And even if it’s something temporary to get you through a quote unquote season, then explore that too so that you can be good and feel good. Like, life is too short to be stuck in this place where we don’t feel good. Sometimes life is hard so let’s just do what we need to do to be okay.
With that we can practice breathing techniques. I love breathing techniques. Like, I forget to do it all the time, but I love it. So I have an Apple Watch and I don’t know, I’m pretty sure it comes with the little breathing app built in. But I’m pretty sure somehow that thing can read, like, my body and my intensity because I’ll be having, like, a really kind of intense moment or I’ll find myself, like, working and I’m just, like, working away and I’m talking like crazy and all of a sudden my watch is, like, breath and it, like, totally tells me what I need to do. So, it might be a coincidence but I’m pretty sure it knows. Like I said, it could just be because of my blood pressure or something, I don’t know, gets elevated.
And so anyway, practice your breathing. Take time, set an alarm if you have to. Like, set an alarm during the day at certain times so that you take the time to breath and practice that, like, holding that breath in and relaxing your body. And then with the breathing, focus on your tension points because for me I hold a lot in my jaw. So I notice, like, even when I don’t feel stress, I get a lot of tension in my jaw. It gives me a headache, or it just really fatigues me and so I really have to focus on relaxing that. And then I take on a lot of my stress and tension in my shoulders and so I also need to focus on relaxing those. That might go back to combining with the stretching, drinking lots of water. All those things kind of work together. And then practicing those mindset pieces too so that I can relax that tension in my shoulder. But being aware of those muscles and you can even do breathing techniques where you’re talking yourself through your body, relaxing sections at a time. So be sure to do that.
One of my favorite things to do is play my favorite music in the car and my favorite songs. And so, I feel like that’s a huge stress releaser. I just turn that volume up on my favorite songs and I, like, sing at the top of my lungs like a crazy woman. And it’s so awesome because it just, like, releases, like, this energy and I think it takes the stress down. And then it goes into that category where all of a sudden I’m laughing at myself because I’m so doggone ridiculous but I’m having such a good time doing it. Or I’ll even make up different parts of the song I’ll sing in my own little, like, tone and then I laugh at that too. So, you have to keep things light and playful and fun because that helps keep stress down. But you’d be amazed, just good music and then singing along.
So that leads into our next piece of making someone else laugh. I’ve also been known to tell, like, super cheesy jokes, child-level jokes just because it makes people laugh and it makes me laugh and I have fun doing it. So, it’s a great way just to take care of your health, get some laughter in there, take those stress pieces down. So, tell those cheesy jokes. And remember, it’s in the way you present it. That’s what makes it funny too, like, the positives and the facial expressions. So, if you want to be a goober like I am and tell jokes and make yourself laugh and make other people laugh, then, you know, tell some jokes.
Our next one, eat healthy, take vitamins that are going to help you with those extra nutrients and fill in the voids. I feel like sometimes I don’t get everything I need. It’s kind of hard to know because the internal of your body, like, you can’t see it. It doesn’t print off a report like, “Hello, friend. This is what I’m missing.” So be sure to check in with your doctor, do those labs and kind of those baseline appointments so that you know what’s going on and that might show things that are missing. I think being aware, just listening to our body is really huge. I have a tendency to crave bananas, I will crave orange juice, sometimes I will crave, like, a big steak. So, I think your body knows what nutrients it’s needing and it kind of will tell you that. If it’s screaming, like, brownie, cake and ice cream, I don’t know if that’s the right message, but have a little bite. Like, don’t totally cut yourself off from that either.
Another thing you can do that I love is diffusing essential oils. I have some favorites. It seems like when I smell certain oils, like, I’m really attracted to them or I’m just totally appalled by them. And so, I think that too is a strong indicator of which oils you’re needing and which ones are going to be helpful, whether it be for, like, hormone balancing, happiness, relaxation. So, take that into consideration as well.
Another thing to do, light your favorite candle. I have a pumpkin - oh my gosh, what is it - a pumpkin caramel candle right now from bath and body works. And it just makes me happy. Like, my house smells happy. My husband comes in and he’s like, “Oh, that smells amazing.“ So it’s kind of one of those things that’s, like, our special thing for our house that makes everybody happy. So do the little things like that. Play spa music in the background. We are so stimulated in life so sometimes not having words in the background and just something that’s more neutral, relaxing, instrumental. I really enjoy listening to The Piano Guys. If you look them up, it’s all piano but it’s, like, current songs that we all know. So, it’s super enjoyable to listen to.
Lastly on the list here is, don’t stay up too late. I know this is so hard for people because, again, we go back to, like, life’s busy. Things are crazy. If I’m going to be able to get in time for myself or to, like, watch NCIS, like, I can’t go to bed. I didn’t do all the dishes. I still have laundry. Sometimes we have to let that stuff go because believe it or not, the sleep part outweighs the other part. And so, this is that thing where we have to be okay with things and with change. So, if we’re feeling it, I can personally tell when I’m getting worn out. My body is very clear when I listen and it’s like, you need to get some more rest. Like, I can feel it, I can tell. So, practice making that a routine. You know, take a shower or a bath to relax. if you need something to kind of help you wind down, you can sip on a relaxing tea, light your candles, start playing calmer music. Diffuse some lavender or do some pillow mist and spray it on your pillow or your bedding or spray whatever scent makes you feel good and relax so that you associate those things together and that it’s time to relax and it’s time to wind down. Start bringing your lighting down so your environment isn’t so bright.
And I know this is such a tough one for people but I’m a firm, firm believer in cutting the electronics off a good hour before bed. You’d be amazed how stimulating because we as human beings are created naturally, like, when the light is there, we get up. It’s like it’s the reason the sun shines and rises and sets. It’s our natural way of our bodies going, okay, I need to get up and I need to do my day. And then that sun sets, and we need to wind down and go to bed. So just, like, electronics and phones and tablets and things that are bright in our face, it’s going to create that brightness and our bodies are going to think we’re supposed to be awake and supposed to be doing stuff.
Another thing for those going back to number 5 that we talked about, about worry and negativity that we do not need before bed. So, don’t be looking at those things and reading those posts and checking your work email and those things that are stressful. I promise you that if there’s something in your work email, it will be there in the morning. It’s not something you’re going to do tonight anyway but then all it’s going to do is leave you restless, not able to fall asleep, you might have weird dreams and you might be up in the middle of the night. So, don’t fall into that trap. Do your best to kind of just let those things be in the morning even if you have to get up a little bit earlier so you have time and you want to put that into your schedule like we had talked about it in celebrating our wins in our daily routine, in number 3. You can do that. So, it’s just creating new things and new practices. You’d be surprised how good all that can feel.
So, I hope that something in here, if not one, two or ten things, will help you feel like you’re in control of your life when you feel like everything is out of control. Be sure to join us at ReadySetJen.com and join our community and we can do this stuff together. So, come in there and check out what we’re up to, the ideas we have or check in with each other and our accountability.
And let’s do this. Let’s make this life, this one life we have a beautiful, beautiful life.