For National Poetry Month, try to read a new or favorite poet each week, or if you are busy, listen to The Slowdown podcast by Tracy K. Smith. Each day, she delivers one poem in less than five mounts, and gives a brief commentary before she reads the poet’s work. It is like a mini-meditation. You can find it here on in Apple podcasts.
This year, one of my goals is to move towards my best health for this stage of my life. In a February blog post, I identified four key areas of focus—food, movement, stress, and sleep—and said I would update you periodically on my progress.
Too often, people focus on food first, and in some ways, I understand this approach because eating the proper food for your body is a major component of getting healthy. But I’m going to save that for another time, because I want to say a little about stress.
I realized I needed to have better ways of coping with stress, and to some degree, the grief I still experience at times since my mother passed away. There are a few ways I have chosen to handle this—grief counseling and talking to my family and friends have helped. I practice moments of stillness, letting myself be quiet. I sit on my cushion and meditate, sometimes quietly, at other times reflecting on a phrase or thought that relaxes or encourages me.
Saying yes only to those commitments or requests where I want to give my time and energy has also been helpful. I scaled back on work and volunteer commitments, and I think carefully before adding anything else to my already full plate. Getting clear on my yes has made saying no much easier. It is not that I did not know how to say no, but I acted as if I was an endless reservoir of energy and resources.
Your way of handling stress might look different, but these are some of the things I have done, and I feel better. Stress affects the body, mind, and spirit; and overload can have adverse consequences. If I stress less, then I can begin to work on some of the other factors affecting my health. Another benefit – I am sleeping better.
What are some of the habits you have developed to manage stress?
I heard this on the Jesus and Jollof podcast, hosted by Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji, two talented Nigerian women—they are on TV, writing books, speaking, and sharing their wit and wisdom. They say that Jesus and Jollof are the two things they cannot live without; I think the quote emphasizes the role of faith in making progress towards your goals.
We can learn from our mistakes.