Here’s a reminder to have fun in life. Don’t take things too seriously. When things go wrong, take a deep breath and realise that it doesn’t have to define your day, or even that moment. Cease the day to begin a lighthearted hobby, kick around the football with the kids or sit down to read a humorous book. Life is full of great moments, try your best to enjoy them.
Some advice from Laura Doyle’s website:
Remember that time you went camping and you and your friend couldn’t stop laughing for an hour?
Or the other day when you were doing your Zumba moves in the kitchen?
What about when you put cereal boxes and fake blood on your shirt for Halloween and called yourself a cereal killer?
Those are just a few examples of you being the real you. Full of Fun and Light.
Yes, I am calling you a girl even though you’re well over 12, because every woman has an inner just-wanna-have-fun-girl, and if you haven’t honored her in a while, it could be time to find your hula hoop, your lip gloss and some tunes that make you step and point.
When you’re full of Fun and Light you are always looking for a good time, and open to that taking priority over doing the laundry.
This woman full of Fun and Light is delightful to be around. She brings a sense of fun with her to every situation, even when it all goes wrong and the entire bag of Cheetos is dumped onto the white couch, or she accidentally squirts herself with the hose, or her husband walks on the freshly-mopped floor with muddy boots.
She sees mishaps as punch lines in the slapstick comedy of life.
Granted, it’s not always easy when the kids are sick, you worked a 12-hour day, and the mortgage is late.
If you can’t remember what you like to do and let yourself do it, you’re not showing much affection for yourself.
The excerpt above has been slightly adapted and taken from the website lauradoyle.org.
Remember to laugh at yourself when you get things wrong. Don’t always take life so seriously. Make your intention to be light-hearted in life an intention to ‘dance’ and make it through, no matter what happens.
Now what is really interesting here is that your ability to be light-hearted is affected by your stress levels. Have you ever been in the position where really little things are getting to you? Or do you know somebody who’s usually so laid-back and relaxed but they seem to be getting annoyed at every little thing? This is an indicator of high stress levels. Maybe you’re the kind of person who can’t relax during the week when you’re really busy or maybe you can’t manage to relax, even when you’re on holiday- this will affect your ability to laugh and ‘dance’ through when things go a bit pear-shaped.
I have recently gone down a dress size (and I am trying really hard to maintain it! but more about that later), and have been reading up on the Louise Parker method which I think is fantastic. The best part of the book for me was the realisation that weight loss goes hand-in-hand with living a better life and therefore is synonymous with ‘living your best life in your best body’. In Louise Parker’s book ‘Lean For Life: Transform your body in 6 weeks Protect the results forever’, she speaks about two other aspects that need to change as well endorsing a mindful diet and an intelligent work-out routine, these are to:
- Think successfully
- Live well
As part of the ‘Live Well’ section, she speaks about sleeping properly, reducing screen time (especially before bedtime) and reducing stress levels and how that’s so important to leading a healthy life and how it also significantly improves the chance of losing weight. ‘Dancing’ through life is much easier to do when you aren’t being dragged down with the stress of it all.
Interestingly, she categorises stress into 4 groups.
- Lion stroking– this is a good stress that propels you into action- a stress that you feel when you are out of your comfort zone but is totally good for you, even needed, in order for you to live your best life. Examples include public speaking, travelling somewhere new and even going out of your way to making a new friend etc.
- Shark attacks– These are those rare moments when something happens that sends you reeling in shock, and are completely out of your control. Examples include when a loved one passes away or you are the victim of a huge financial loss like losing your home. These ‘are terrifying and you can hardly eat or sleep, but you always survive them. And if you feel you haven’t survived yet, then the healing process hasn’t finished – but it always will heal’ Louise writes. ‘ You can’t always prevent a Shark attack, but you can control how you react to them’.
- Scorpion bites– This is chronic stress that results from a bad relationship, losing something significant or falling out with a family member. The effect of this will stay with you daily, unless you do something about it. If you don’t ‘each (new) Scorpion bite (is) somehow much more irritating and harder to deal with.’
- Mossy bites– These are just so irritating. It’s when you spill milk all over the floor just as you were about to leave for the school run, it’s when your son rubs Sudacrem all over the bedroom carpet or you lose your car keys for the umpteenth time. Louise writes, ‘Your heart races, you’re snappy and you feel like you need a valium smoothie’ and here is the interesting part:
Some days you can be covered in Mossie bites and nothing will ruin your mood, and on others just one bite can send you in a spin, if your limbs are covered in Scorpion bites.
So the ability to handle and deal with chronic stress (Scorpion bites) significantly reduces the effect of these small stresses (Mossy bites).
As a side note, when it comes to weight loss the misconception that stress increases weight loss is only true for Shark bites; constant stress of Scorpion bites and Mossie bites both cause weight gain.
How to reduce stress (put simply and adapted from Louise Parker’s brilliant book mentioned above):
- Eat well. Think low carbs rather than low fat and eat your greens. See the book for some simple but satisfying recipes.
- Keep moving. Louise Parker recommends 10,000 steps a day as an absolute minimum but I have found success using the fitness blender workout videos.
- Self care
- Brain-nap/ Meditate/ Pray for at least 20 minutes every day
- Let it go (Louise’s advice on this is simple and effective: ‘You’ve made a decision, dealt with it: now let it be. Every time you allow the bite to linger in your mind, you’re allowing yourself to be nibbled at it again, and all these nibbles will stress you out.’). Muslims can use the adage of sending peace and a prayer to our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ every time that thought comes back into your head. Works every time.
- Talk positively about changes you will make.
- Write down what you want to get out of each day. This can change according to the season, children’s school routine vs holiday time etc.
- Remember my friends post? Choose good company. Louise writes ‘ I realize it sounds brutal, but it’s about recognizing who encourages you, bringing positivity, inspiration and fun into your life. Just be aware of who they are, and think about which group you spend most of your time with. If you’re spending time with judgemental, critical people who don’t back your dreams, you risk not realizing your potential.’
- Create a support group. Find a group of people who want to achieve the same goals as you. Be it a writing group (hello to my lovely writing crew!), a slimming group or even a devotional or religious group (you know who you are, my secret devotional friends :-)). Being around people who have the same goals as you will significantly improve your own chance of achieving success.
And that’s it. I hope and pray these tips on reducing stress will help you ‘dance’ through life and help you to remember how to draw from your more ‘lighthearted self’ when things don’t go the way you’ve planned.
Have you got any more tips on how to reduce stress? When’s the last time you managed to ‘dance’ through a situation? Do you find it easy to be full of ‘Goodness and Light’? Do share your thoughts below!
Until next time then,
Peace and love,
PS To help me on my journey to enoughism I will write down 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each post. These are:
- We managed a fantastic fundraiser for Al Khair school, Oldbury, yesterday at the amazing ‘Odara Women’s Spa’, I was so impressed and humbled by all the community work the managers, Aysha and Kiran do there. Their vision is beautiful and encompasses change for the whole community. MashaAllah (God has willed! An expression of appreciation) they are very inspirational and it was a pleasure to meet Aysha in person yesterday. It links beautifully to this post as a huge part of reducing stress is self-care and what better way to do it than treat oneself to a spa day, in the name of a good cause? As my lovely sister-in-law Mariam beautifully put it- Happy mama, Happy wife, Happy household :-).
- We had a wonderful session and have vowed to repeat it inshaAllah (God-Willing). This is something I’m very grateful for. To be able to create a regular opportunity to relax and enjoy each other’s company in a beautiful peaceful environment. Those of you who live in Birmingham I urge you to visit, the owners are very down-to-earth and admit there is a lot to be done yet to improve their services to take them to the next level of service, but I assure you, even now, you will not be disappointed!
- I’m grateful for reading and learning something new everyday. I’m currently reading a book called ‘The Bookworm’ by Lucy Mangan and I’m really enjoying the way she explores her childhood reading experience. I find myself grinning as she explains what a huge bookworm she was when she was younger as it is totally relatable to my own experiences. I’m grateful for this book for all the recommendations of fabulous children’s literature that I have realised my children have yet to discover.