Are You on Santa’s Stressed List?

Santa's Stessed ListStress. It’s a word we hear every day and I am sure it means different things to each of us (including our kids). The World Health Organization defines stress as, “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. It is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats to our lives.”  Back in the “early” days, stress was meant to protect us from the dangers out in the world and keep us safe. These days it feels more like a byproduct of our everyday lives. Even the general pace of our society can sometimes (no, probably often at this time of year) feel like it is going too fast for us to process and is one stressful event after another.

Just to be clear, I am talking about the stress we bring on ourselves – the temporary type* that can often be mitigated if we had the ability for “do-overs.” Think about the last time you stopped and realized you were feeling overly stressed. What happened just before that?

Common Stressors:

      • Did you say, “yes” to one or ten more things you knew you didn’t have time for?
      • Or did you forget something important and then had to scramble to make it right?
      • Did you lose something important?
      • Were you late for an appointment?
      • Did you stay up later than you knew you should?

All of these, and many more can increase your stress level. Imagine if you could rewind time and try again. Would you be able to identify what got in the way and caused your stress and then be able to prevent it (or at least reduce its impact)? What would that feel like?

Now figure out what you can do to get that feeling.

What ideas did you come up with? I know you are in the mad, almost the holidays rush but, maybe you can make some notes for next year.  Trust me, your “future self” will thank you if you leave some hints and actions to take to manage your stress level.

Here are some ideas to think about:

      • Get more sleep (dark rooms, lowering lights in the evening and using lamps not overheads)
      • Exercise
      • Build a self-care toolbox of things that help recharge you and schedule time in for you
      • Create routines that work for you and the family
      • Limit changes to plans at the last minute – it is okay to say “no”
      • Feeling prepared helps melt stress so make a realistic plan and then work it
      • Smart tech use – sure the dopamine hit feels good at the time but then that time is gone
      • No negative self-talk – your brain believes what it hears
      • Declutter the things you no longer need and that only interfere with you being able to find what you need quickly
      • Lastly, organize your spaces. Where is the logical spot for that? Where would a hook work for your keys? What would make your life easier and save you time? Add that to your to do list.

When you understand you have options, you can take action. Even baby steps in the right direction, will still get you there.

Reduce the Stress in Your Home TODAY!

Monthly vlogs and blogs on what to declutter seem to be “trending” these days so let’s talk about what you can do in September. Now that the kids are back in school it is important to put structure and routines in place to reduce the stress of this transition. No matter what your “pandemic” situation has been, this is a chance to get back some normalcy. That often starts with decluttering.

Where did this clutter come from? Was it impulsive buying for that quick shot of dopamine – felt good in the moment and now you trip over it every day? Was that what you wanted? Or was it to quiet the kids you had to take to the grocery store? Look around – what is this costing you? And I don’t mean moneywise, but emotionally, socially, psychologically, physically and in your relationships with your loved ones. Clutter makes you grumpy.

WebMD says, “Researchers have found that being around disorganization makes it harder for your brain to focus. It can be especially tough for people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).” “Some people who live in cluttered homes have a poorer “working memory,” according to research. Your brain is wired to be able to keep track of only a few details at once for a short period, so it can get overloaded when there’s too much going on.”

Clutter causes stress and conflict and undermines the lessons you want to be teaching your children and worst of all it takes up your time and mental bandwidth even if you do nothing about it. Constant stress reduces your lifespan according to researchers at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare by 2.8 years.

More research: Children who live in homes that are “chaotic,” that are noisy, overcrowded and have a lack of order, have significantly more challenges than kids who don’t.  Research has found that kids who had homes like this, “tend to score lower on tests of cognitive ability and self-regulatory capabilities, have poorer language abilities, and score higher on measures of problem behaviors and learned helplessness than do children raised in less chaotic environments” (Jaffee, S., Hanscombe, K., Haworth, A., Davis, P., and Plomin, R., 2012).  They also have, “lower expectations, a lack of persistence and a tendency to withdraw from academic challenge” (Hanscombe, K., Haworth, C., Davis, O., Jaffee, S., and Plomin, R., 2011).

So, can we agree clutter is bad?

Let’s start by clearing one category of toys – baby toys. By baby toys I mean all those toys, books and games that are no longer age appropriate for your children. Electronic toys that make sounds or have lights but otherwise don’t do much were meant to help stimulate a baby’s brain while it was in its early developmental stage.  It is through play that children learn, explore, use their imagination and problem solve. (If you don’t have kids, then look around at your own “toys” and hobbies – what have you outgrown?)

Start collecting the baby toys and those odd little things that have been randomly picked up while out or only served their purpose for a short time. Anything that your children played with before kindergarten and no longer play with REGULARLY. Things that are not really toys but mementos from events. Really how many foam fingers and blown-up superheroes do you need? Push or beginner ride on toys, chubby crayons, finger paints and stuffed animals are in this category as well. Legos and building blocks are not.

Are all the pieces together? (Puzzles, games, stacking rings, etc.)
Is it in good shape to donate? (Cradles to Crayons, Big Brother Big Sister)
Was it a gift? (No obligation to keep it)
Is it sentimental? (Create a time capsule to save it out of the mainstream)
Is it broken?
Can it be recycled?
Is it really just trash?

Once you have collected all of these and decided what you are going to do with them – get them out of the house. Not in a closet or in your trunk but delivered to their final destination. According to Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist.com, with fewer toys your kids may ” learn to be more creative, develop longer attention spans, establish better social skills, learn to take better care of things, become more resourceful, and less selfish. He also says, “True joy and contentment will never be found in the aisles of a toy store. Kids who have been raised to think the answer to their desires can be bought with money have believed the same lie as their parents.”

Wouldn’t you rather spend time playing a game, then clearing a space to play?

  • Collect and remove all age-inappropriate toys
  • Trash, recycle, repurpose or pass on
  • STOP the inflow of new toys and trinkets
  • Spend more time with your children
  • Help children put toys away before bed
  • Make a space for storing like toys together
  • Contain what you can

 

Summer Solutions to Organization

summer-beach-graphicTwo questions for you. First, what does organization mean to you? Second, what does summer mean to you? To me, those two questions go together because if you’re organized there is a better chance that you can take advantage of all the things that summer has to offer. It takes planning and keeping up with the things that we usually do on the weekend and handling them during the week in order to have your weekends free to do what makes you happy.

Do you have systems for:

  • meal planning and grocery shopping?
  • bills, paperwork and email?
  • laundry?
  • projects?
  • planning your week?

Can you find what you need when you need it or do you need to….

  • de-clutter?
  • organize?
  • simplify?

If time just seems to slip away and you feel like it is a struggle to make it through the week, then it is time to get organized!

June will be here in two days and that means that the warm weather is on its way. Although yesterday it was 47° here in the Boston area, today we are a bit more hopeful as the sun is out and the thermometer is crawling its way to 60. Will this be the summer you get organized and have more fun?

If you answered “yes” then let’s talk or send me an email and see how our Summer Solutions Program can help you make the most of this summer. laine@laineslogic.com or (781)659-0513. Hurry- time flies!

 

Plan for an organized life

What does it mean to get organized? For many people it means de-cluttering or tossing things they love and “hiding” most of the other stuff. They think that when their house is in a perfect state (which only lasts for a short time) and they are “organized” then all will be right with the world. I think there is much more to getting organized and so I call it organizing life.

 

Organizing life goes beyond having a place for everything and everything in its place. It is also about being able to find what is needed when it’s needed, doing what needs to be done (before it is due) and still having time to do what you want to do. It’s about gaining control over all your responsibilities (big and small) and it is a major juggling act unless you have a plan.

 

Making a plan takes about thirty minutes. Sunday afternoon or evening works well for many. Taking the time to plan can make a big difference in the stress level of your week. Do you want to bring a sense of calm to your typically hectic week? Then I suggest you start with your calendar, planner or pda (dust it off if you must) and check the upcoming week for appointments or promises you have made. Now gather all the sticky notes, napkin doodles and little scraps of paper that you have written reminders on. Schedule anything you can. Is there a birthday, graduation or wedding coming up that you need to shop for? Schedule it in.

 

When is that report due and how much time will it take you to write it? Work backwards to schedule when you need to start work on it so it will be finished a day ahead. Then plan enough time (double your estimate) and schedule the days and times you will work on it. Now when are you going to do the weekly things like grocery shopping, laundry, etc?

 

Last but not least, what would you like to do this week? Find a place in the week for whatever it is that will make you happy and schedule it in. Then be sure to do it.

 

Review your plan of the week to make sure your time estimates are realistic and your plan doable. You will still need to be flexible as life is often unpredictable, but having a plan will help minimize the surprises and the stress.  

 

And the benefits of an organized life?  Monica Ricci (known for her role on HGTV’s Mission Organization)  says it best in her recent blog….” the most important benefit of living an organized life is this… it allows you the freedom, the mental and physical space, and the energy to live the life you were meant to live, and do the work you were put here to do. When you’re so bogged down in the minutiae and overwhelmed by the day to day chaos of your own life, how in the world can you tune into your purpose and put your life’s work into action?”

Here’s to an organized week and an organized life!