The Beauty of Slowing Down

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I live a very fast-paced, go-go-go, give it my all, “you can sleep when you’re dead” lifestyle most of the time (as I assume most blossoming entrepreneurs do.) It’s full of passion, excitement, life and color! Staying up late letting the creative juices flow…parking it at coffee shops for the day to hit last-minute deadlines…taking chances…booking meetings…picking up the phone…showing up…saying “Yes.”

I won’t lie: while it’s wildly inspiring and entertaining sometimes it can be plain exhausting. Exhausting to the point of burn out, fatigue and “enough.” Does that mean I’m not cut out for it? Not one bit.

You see, what I realized lately is that you don’t have to pick one or the other: the “play it safe” unplugged life or the fast ‘n’ furious audacious life. Rather, they can play off each other and you can have the best of both worlds. You can create your perfect blend.

How? By slowing down (when you need to). It’s wonderful to live a life full of wild excitement, but if you suddenly get too wrapped up in being “on” all the time, that may be a sign that it’s time for you to slow down, take a break and unwind.

Ever since I created my “Stop Doing List” a few weeks ago, I’ve been able to slow things down while still satisfying my entrepreneurial needs. By doing so, I’ve also kept burnout, stress, frustration and limiting beliefs to a bear minimum as well.

Slowing down does not make you “weak” or lazy. Rather it makes you show up as a more clear-headed, powerful, open-minded, inspired version of YOU. And that’s where the beauty is.

Here are some of my favorite ways to slow down when I catch myself moving too fast:

  • Road trips with The Boy (belting out our fave tunes & letting my hair flow in the wind)
  • Getting away from the city for the weekend (We’re just getting back from a quick trip to Cooperstown, NY to visit The Boy’s family, and we also like to escape to Fisher’s Island to visit my grandparents and New Hampshire to stay at my family’s condo)
  • Cooking a home-made meal & taking my time with it (with an apron on)
  • Sipping on Yogi tea (especially reading my lil fortune)
  • Unplugging…for multiple hours at at time
  • Walking instead of running
  • Enjoying a meal in silence (focusing on the smell, the taste & the texture of the food)
  • Breathing (& sometimes meditating)
  • Putting pen to paper for some good, ol’ fashioned free writing
  • Zoning out to good music with bands like The Shine, Of Monsters and Men, and Ingrid Michaelson
  • Going to bed early & sleeping in
  • Sex & The City Marathons. All night.
  • Treating myself to a facial or massage. Even if it’s a homemade facial & begging The Boy
  • Being with family

What are your favorite ways to slow down?

Tame Holiday Stress the Healthy Way

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[don't be a Grinch!]

As I’m sitting here in my cozy apartment with a “Warm Baked Apple” candle lit listening to Christmas tunes, I couldn’t agree more with Andy Williams when he said, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I’m absolutely obsessed with the season, and kind of turn into an overly happy, overly energized, overly joyous Santa’s elf around this time. I’m one of those girls who wants to listen to Christmas music 24/7, decorate the apartment with snowflakes and pretty tinsel, and glitter-ize everything! 

So I guess I don’t understand that when I go to the mall I see so many grinches out there. Mothers screaming at their children, people fighting with sales clerks and billions of people walking around with the most scary looks on their faces. What gives? It’s the holiday season, after all! SMILE! But I get it…I really do. While the holiday season brings lots of joy to many, it can also be quite stressful. After a trip to the mall, it’s very tempting to want to pound a few spiked ciders or vodka on the rocks. But let me tell you: that’s not the answer. 

That’s why I went out and asked my friends (Twitter & real life) how they handle holiday stress, and many people got back to me with some great answers that don’t include screaming at your husband or punching a hole through the wall. So I’ve taken what other people have said to me and thought up a few ideas of my own to help YOU handle holiday stress this year…and make it through the season alive. 

Sip On Tea Throughout the Day: Seriously, never doubt the power a cup of tea can do for your stress levels and inner balance. Head on over to your local supermarket or specialty tea & coffee shop and pick up some caffeine-free teas of choice. I love chamomile, peppermint and ginger this time of year, but the flavors are endless! Oh, and tea is calorie-free so you can enjoy it absolutely guilt-free all day, every day if you so wish.

Make Lists: You’d laugh if you saw how many lists I make, but there is a reason to it. And that is they help me organize my days and my life in general. I make all kinds of lists from goals & dreams to groceries and to-do lists. They are all over my apartment, so that I can visually see what it is I need to get done. Make lists for upcoming events, items you need for the sweater you’re knitting, who’s left to buy presents for, and the ingredients for that new recipe you’ve been dying to try for your best friend’s holiday party. Trust me: lists solve all problems.

Fake It: Even if you’ve had the most stressful day ever, fake a smile and move on with it. After all, smiles are contagious, so smile and smile big. It’s so much more difficult (and much more effort) to be angry and mean to someone. If the line is long or the new coffeepot you purchased doesn’t work, take a deep breath and don’t yell at the cashier. She didn’t do anything to you, so don’t bring her good mood down in the dumps too! Instead, realize it’s not worth it to sweat over the little itty-bitty things in life. Instead, move on with it and you’ll be much happier in the long run! 

Make Your Own Gifts: If the mall stresses you out, make your own gifts to save time and money. Homemade gifts are also more special and will be a lot more fun to put together. Get creative this year with your gifts, even if you just design your own holiday cards. I’m planning on making homemade corn bags (heating pads) for my friends, and also printing a few more copies of my recipe book to give away to friends and family for the holidays. You also can’t go wrong with anything involving pictures, liquor or yummy food! 

Get Your Rest: Don’t stay up all night long to get things done. Our bodies and minds need a rest, and you need to give your body what it deserves. So even if you have to save some stuff for the morning or sacrifice your late-night TV watching, it’ll be worth it when you wake up bright ‘n’ energized. Hey, us women need our beauty sleep after all.

Get Away: Sometimes it can be stressful when you get wrapped up in your daily routine. So go on a mini vacay even if you just take a day trip to go ice skating or wine tasting. Little things like this get us through the holidays easy and breezy. I’m taking a four-day road trip to Florida in a couple weeks with a pit stop to Disney World and couldn’t be more excited! I urge you to do the same…even if it’s just a mini getaway. Anything helps. 

What do you do to cope with holiday stress? Any suggestions and ideas to add? 

Unwind: Simple Solutions for Getting Away From it All

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Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of people (including myself) getting stuck in what is life: demands of work, too many plans, too little plans, endless errands, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. But mostly what it comes down to is not taking a second to breathe, wake up and smell the coffee , do what you love. Sometimes it may seem like you are walking through life like a zombie. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Work. Go home. Sleep. Repeat. And when you think like that, everything builds up in your head and you naturally become a miserable, unsure-of-yourself, complaining lady (which we know you are really not). 

Just the other day I found myself wondering, “What am I doing with my life?” which naturally got me wondering, Where is this all going? What am I going to be when I grow up? Will I ever fall in love? Am I doing the right thing? (among many more questions). Then I realized, I don’t need to know the answer right now. But I do need to start filling my life up with little things I find pleasure in, in the meantime. 

So if you are like me (and many other women) wondering What if? try to think in the present and fill your day with happy thoughts instead. Live in the now. Some ideas:

1. Take a mini vacation. Sure, you might not be able to get work off for an entire week to vacay to the Bahamas, but who’s to say you can’t go away for a weekend getaway. Plan a trip with a few friends to go hiking while the weather still isn’t frigid, or book a weekend away to visit a friend in another state. I knew I needed to get away, so I recently booked a 5 day trip (Thursday-Monday) to see my sister in Baltimore. While there, I’m going to visit a few old friends and also take a detour to DC to stay with one of my best friends from college. I. Can. Not. Wait. 

Can’t wait to be reunited with my #1 Southern belle!

2. Look at Old Photographs: This is so much fun to do when you’re feeling a little on edge about life. Going through old photos brings back so many memories-the good and the bad. I recently stumbled upon some really silly family photos including this hilarious pic of my sister when she was younger. Poor little thing was so chubby, she was bursting out of her buttons (too darn cute).

3. Write a letter (or a thoughtful email) to a good friend: The other day when I was feeling bummed out, I wrote a long email to a good friend, telling her what was on my mind. It was so much more productive than complaining to my roommates (no one likes a complainer) or keeping it bottled up inside (worst thing you can do for yourself). The letter doesn’t have to be a “I’m bummed out letter” but I urge you to write a letter (preferably old school with pen and paper) to someone you love, even if it is just to catch up on life. 

4. Plan a fabulous ladies’ night out: Tonight I’m going out to dinner with a good friend for sushi in China Town. It’s only 10:30 a.m. and it’s already all that I can think about. I’m going to dress up. Maybe put on some heels. Oh, and eat my little heart out. Nothing is better than a girls’ night out for sushi! Yes, life can get pretty hectic at times, but you need to remember to do things with your friends once in a while…fun things involving food + wine + laughter. Life’s too short to always be concerned about work/ relationships/family issues.

Nights out with Meggie are the best <3 

5. Read a Book: There’s nothing like escaping into the world of a great novel to get away from it all. Currently I’m reading Water For Elephants. Pick up a great book next time you’re at a used bookstore or library…and simply let it take you away!

6. Get a New Wardrobe (or Hairdo): One of my roomates has been extra-stressed with work lately, and decided it was time to…buy new clothes! “I realized I’m not doing enough for me, which probably has a lot to do with how I’m feeling.” So what did she do? She didn’t sulk. Instead she decided she’s going on a personal shopping spree, and also booked an appointment with her hair salon. I’m so proud of her! We don’t do “me” things nearly enough in life, and that’s something all of us can work on. No, it doesn’t have to be spending loads of money on new makeup. It could be little things like taking 10 minutes to yourself each day, re-connecting with an old hobby (like painting or writing), going for a long walk, or even painting your nails!

Do you ever find yourself confused/stressed/overwhelmed with life? What do you do to get away from it all? 

Seven Simple Stress Tamers for the Working Woman

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When you work 9 to 5 (or 8 to 4 or all freakin’ day long) every day, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get stressed out from time to time. With deadlines, nonstop buzzing phones, grueling assignments, and noisy coworkers, you’d have to be non-human not to let the stress monster get to you every once in a while. I know for me, I don’t let stress affect me very often, but when it hits me, it hits me reallllll hard. So what are we to do? The only places you want to be right now are your bed, the beach or on a massage table, but you’re stuck in the office for at least five more hours. Doomed? Not just yet. Use these seven simple de-stressing tips and you’ll be back to your perky, happy, stress-free self in no time!

1. Remember to Breathe: Sometimes it’s just as simple as taking a few deep breaths once in a while. Breathe in, breathe out. There you go! Feel better? If you work in a small office, where people won’t judge you, take a few moments to lay down on your back and close your eyes (think: final relaxation phase in Yoga). It feels heavenly!

2. Have a large supply of tea on hand at all times: The best thing about my office is that we have a shelf fully dedicated to tea: black tea, green tea, pomegranate green tea, breakfast teas, you name it. And even better: We have an in-house tea expert who makes his own loose leaf tea right here in the office! Lucky me got to enjoy his creations two times this week, a chai tea and a combination of Jasmine Dragon pearls and a Rooibos. Purely delicious…and if that doesn’t tame stress I don’t know what will!

3. Bring a stress ball to work: Seriously, these little stress balls work wonders! If you don’t want to buy one, you can make them with a balloon and baking flour like the good old days in Girl Scouts. Crunching up paper, punching your desk (lightly) and chewing gum also helps. Just don’t smack your lips too loudly, and never punch a coworker!

4. Remember to Eat: Sometimes, when you’re ultra stressed out, you forget to do one of the most important things: EAT! Make sure to eat a few healthy snacks throughout the day (apple with peanut butter, string cheese, fresh fruit, carrot sticks and hummus), as well as a wholesome lunch. Stuck in the office ’til God knows when? Have a few go-to eats on hand, like dried fruit and nuts, bananas, yogurt, or some whole grain bread for emergency situations (i.e. deadline change).

5. Squeeze in an afternoon gym sesh or quick walk: I know lots of people who squeeze in a quickie gym session during their lunch break instead of heading out to Panera with the rest of the crew. Why don’t you do the same? Lunch can wait ’til your desk; your wellness can’t (unless you plan on doing push ups under your chair). If you don’t have the luxury of a nearby gym, take a mini stroll outside to get some fresh air and clear your head. The other day, I was extra stressed, so I took a simple 5-minute walk outside, and when I came back I felt MUCH better and much more productive.

6. Know When to Say “No”: Of course, it’s great to take on lots of tasks and help out a coworker, but when you are drowning in work of your own, it’s OK to say N-O once in a while, politely of course. Explain that you are extremely busy with your assignments at the moment, but can help out later during the day, or find someone else who has the time (and energy) to help out.

7. Change Up Your Location: If you work in a job where you’re always sitting (like me), stand up a few times throughout the day to get the blood flowing and your mind clearing. On the run all day bouncing from appointment to appointment? Do the opposite! Sit down on that enticing park bench for a few minutes or eat your lunch at the cafe (instead of in the street) for once!

 
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