Life has been crazy since summer. It has been filled with travel for work and fun. I’ve had the opportunity to go to Breckenridge, Vail, Winter Park, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. It has definitely been go, go, go since May.
My daughter also had a very full summer of swimming, horse camp and Girl Scout camp. In addition to her activities, we had lots of grandparents come to visit. When the grandparents come, they typically stay somewhere in the mountains so we can go join them and take advantage of a quick getaway. Over the months, I learned a few things about making stress levels less when trying to pack in a lot of fun. With a few simple strategies, you can make it so that life does not “get in the way” as often as and when it does you have strategies in place to fix it.
Plan activities that are both stress-relieving and fun
Recently when my in-laws were in town, we went to a ranch where they breed and raise sled dogs. It gave us a chance to pet and play with over 160 dogs. Nothing relieves stress like time with some loving dogs. When we were done petting them and touring the kennel, we got the opportunity to go on a ride with the team pulling a cart. It was very interesting as I’ve never seen sled dogs in action. It was really fun to see them do their thing. Because it was relatively warm for a husky, 50 degrees, we took lots of breaks for the dogs and they got to lay in the stream for a little while to cool off while all we took pictures.
We also took advantage the swimming pool and hot tub at places we’ve stayed. The hot tub is the perfect way to relax at the end of a long day of walking and hiking. It’s a bonus if my kid can play in the pool (tiring herself out) while I enjoy the hot tub.
Maximize time with loved ones
When my mom was here, we celebrated a small town Fourth of July in Georgetown, Colorado. The small town where I grew up has one of the best places to the celebrate the Fourth. It is small town America at its best. In the morning, there’s a parade through town. All the kids decorate their bikes, and the local library and local businesses parade through town. My daughter now rides in the parade just like I did at her age. That is followed up with a barbecue in City Park complete with music and lots of food. Afterwards, we typically visit friends, wander around town, and this year we were invited to a dinner barbecue at an old friend’s house. It was nice to catch up with people that I’ve known all of my life. That night my best friend and I stayed in town visiting another high school friend. We saw the fireworks, heard some live music and caught up after having not seen each other for several months. Nothing soothes my soul like spending time with my friends and family in the mountains.
Set your priorities and stick with them
One downside with all of these visitors and all the travel is that it can be hard to get everything done. Nothing is more stressful than feeling like you are letting someone down or not performing your job to the best of your ability. One example: I was unable to contribute a blog entry last month because “life got in the way.” It’s difficult when you have commitments, all of which you enjoy and want to do, but you just can’t find the hours in the day to finish everything. That means sometimes commitments fall by the wayside and add stress. Deciding what are truly the priorities is key. Identify what is the most important priority based on your life. It could be your career, your kids, your spouse, your parents, your hobby… It can be difficult to identify, but spending some time to really discover what is most important to you will help you find what to say no to because eventually, something has to give. For me, I’ve realized that with my daughter being young, my family nearly always comes first. My job is second in line because paying bills is also important. Next come my friends, my hobbies, clubs and other things I enjoy. I have missed out on a few things but I find that being able to set boundaries and say “no” when I need to also helps reduce my stress.
Finally, get (and stay!) organized
Having a to-do list, calendar or other tools that help you stay organized and on top of all of your appointments is key. I have found that if I schedule everything, I can make sure that I have time for it all. There are hundreds of task tracking and calendar apps for your phone but I go old school. I have a great big paper calendar that hangs on my refrigerator that has all of my appointments, my daughter’s school activities, Girl Scout meetings, horseback lessons, karate class, dentist, doctor, you name it. If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not getting done.
As the days speed up toward the end of the year, getting your plan in place to reduce stress during the always crazy and hectic holidays will help you enjoy them, and the people you spend them with, more!