Summer—is it your time of languid summer days floating on a tube down the river or balmy evenings listening to the tree frogs – or are you exhausted from endless guest, barbecues, family crisis and any manner of stress inducers?
I’ll have to admit that this summer, most often I fall into the latter category. One of the downsides of living here in our beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina is that everyone wants to come and visit. I enjoy every single visit, but I notice the cumulative effect is wearying and I race to wash and change sheets and clean the bathrooms before the next visitors arrive while trying to get this blog out to you, finish work on two books that are now in production and squeeze in some time to meet a magazine article deadline.
It’s the familiar “never enough time” stress syndrome. I can actually feel my blood pressure rising even when I think about it. I notice that my focus is nonexistent and I skip from one thing to another, not really accomplishing much at all.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Here are my summer stress solutions:
- Lower Your Standards: You guests are coming to see you, not an eat-off-the-floor Better Homes and Gardens house or a perfectly manicured garden. Other than a house that is a complete train wreck, a little dust will not daunt your guests or make them think less of you. Nor will a garden that is slowly turning into a jungle. I guarantee it will lower your stress levels.
- Plan simple meals: It’s summer and most people prefer to eat lightly. Salads are a big hit this time of the year. A taco salad bar can accommodate all dietary preferences with no hassle and everyone can pitch in and cut and chop, so you’ll have a meal in minutes. If budgets allow, a relaxing dinner in an outdoor café is another solution to the summer mealtime blues.
- Ask for help: Delegate! Delegate! Delegate! You don’t have to do it all. Whether it’s asking for someone on your committee to help pick up the slack (surprisingly, most people are happy to be asked) or asking your guests to help you harvest the produce from your garden for group-effort meals, it all lightens the load and eases our burden. Kids especially like to be included in the mix. Side note: No, it’s probably not appropriate to ask your guests to clean your house or mow your lawn. Does your budget allow you to hire someone for those tasks? It not, a lick and a promise and perhaps tolerating a slightly shaggier lawn are good options.
- Take time out: A little time for yourself is not untoward. With my grandchildren, we created a daily “me time,” when every was quiet and self-occupied for an hour or so. I talk about this at length in 10 Best Ways to Manage Stress. I definitely needed with quiet time and so did they!
- Just say “No:” Hopefully your “no” won’t be mean or defensive. It will just be a calm and decisive, “No, I really don’t have the time or energy right now.” If it’s the kids wanting to play a vigorous game of tag on a 90-degree afternoon or a request to hold a coffee for your favorite political candidates or an invitation to a party, “No” could just be the kindest word for everyone. Of course, with the kids especially, it’s a good idea to have a handful of less energy-taxing options like a card game or a run through the sprinkler.
You’ll find more stress solutions in my book 10 Best Ways to Manage Stress. I’d love to hear your experiences!
Also, you may find my other articles on stress management helpful as well. <== Browse the titles with that link.