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Less Stress Challenge – My Progress

When I first began the 1/3 Less Stress Challenge (brought to you by Kraft 2% Milk Singles, which has a 1/3 less fat than the leading process cheese slice) I thought how wonderful would it be if, now that I know what I want to change, I could do it all (or most of it) right away.

That’s obviously incredibly impractical, not to mention a recipe for disaster. Instead I focused on 1-2 changes each week.

less stress challenge

Eating Well

I already know that when I’m hungry or thirsty I get cranky and when I’m cranky my To-Do list seems impossible, so this seemed like the most important issue for me to address. Nice too, because it was probably the easiest one to deal with.

The first several days I made an increased effort to prepare myself a lunch for the next day as I packed the kids lunches (and sometimes Eric’s too) after dinner. Just having that afternoon nourishment has decreased my stress.

roast beef wrap

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Before I never really put any thought into planning for lunch. I always assumed that I’d just figure something out when the time came. Now I am planning for lunch. I’ve made sure to plan lunches, not just dinners, into our weekly menu. Nothing elaborate, just having a plan helps. This cool Menu Planner/Grocery List combo notebook has helped me with that.

Relaxing More

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve already been working on giving myself “down-time” each day, mostly in the form of reading (check out some of my books I’ve been reading here if you need some inspiration).

Sometimes my down time is settling in with the family for a movie in the evening or watching one of my favorite programs with Eric.

reading to reduce stress

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The crowning jewel of “down-time” is the time I will get to spend in Greece this summer. With Eric. Alone. Did I mention no kids? This will be our first adults only trip since our honeymoon nearly a decade ago. I think we have some catching up to do.

After that I’ll be taking a few weeks off of blogging (I’ve got some great guests lined up to fill in during my down time) to spend some time with the kids at the start of the summer as we transition out of our school routine.

Being More Organized

Over Christmas break we had gone through all the clothes closets, bathroom closets, movies and games. That was such a relief to have that organized again and to remove a car load of necessary stuff from our house.

However, you can only do so much of that over Christmas vacation, and though all of that was looking good, we still had to tackle the office, the kitchen (YIKES) and the garage. I’m not sure what’s worse – the garage or the kitchen.

A few weekends ago Eric and Logan cleaned out the garage. I purchased a storage shelf at Costco (we already have 2) and some bins. We’re not quite done yet, but we’re on our way there and at least the mountain of boxes is off to the recycling plant.

Then after that I performed an “Extreme Pantry Makeover.” You can read more about that here: 5 Steps to a Pantry Makeover. The kitchen is feeling less cluttered just from a few simple steps.

organized home

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After hearing wonderful things about Simple Mom Tsh’s book Organized Simplicity, I finally decided to order myself a copy for additional help on living a simple, organized life. I don’t really like life feeling so hectic all the time.

Besides all the big organizing jobs, the whole family needed a lesson in staying organized from day to day. Things like cleaning up after one’s self, doing a job that needs to be done because you see that it needs doing, and the like are not second nature.

Now, I’m not saying we’re slobs. But sometimes other things that aren’t really important take priority over taking care of our home. I hate looking around and seeing the little messes pile up, because by the end of the week those little messes are so overwhelming.

Mostly, for me, laundry is the issue. I’m still trying to figure out a routine that works for me. Those dirty clothes multiply like bunnies overnight. It’s hard to keep up, it’s an unpleasant task, and it never ends. Plus, I’ve got two little kids who aren’t really a huge help in the matter, though Logan is getting better – I’d love to hear your laundry tackling tips!

Sleeping Better

Part of sleeping better is staying caught up on my To-Do list. When I’m behind that’s all I think about when I lay down at night to go to bed and that just overwhelms me. Being more organized has helped me stay on top of my To-Do list.

I’ve also begun using Google Calendar to keep track of appointments and deadlines. I have a physical calendar too, but it’s nice to have a digital one as well since I spend so much time on the computer. Each day I check my tasks and mark off as I complete them.

sleep habits and stress

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Unfortunately, the Relaxing More part of the “program” sometimes gets in the way with the “Sleeping Better” part. A couple of times I’ve been way too into a book I’m reading and before I know it, it’s after midnight. It doesn’t happen often, and amazingly I haven’t been too tired the next day. Perhaps because I was up late doing something low-key vs. working or cleaning.

I usually try to keep track of the time in the evening and make sure I’ve settled in for bed by 10:00 pm. I’ve realized that keeping a routine for sleep and wake times is really important for my body.

Exercising More

This is the one area that I’ve not accomplished yet. I felt like I had to tackle some of the other outstanding problems before adding a new routine. I’m hoping now that I’ve gotten more organized and am staying on top of my To-Do list that I’ll be able to add in some daily exercise.

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Exercise for me is something that always seems to end up on the back burner. The thing that I’ll do after I’ve accomplished my To-Do list, spent time with the family, and then really only if I’m not too tired. How do you make time for exercise?

The 1/3 Less Program

I’ll be checking in with all of you once more on how you’re doing with the 1/3 Less Stress challenge. In that post, I’ll be giving away a $100 gift card to Spa Finder so you can enjoy some much deserved “down time.”

What have you been doing to decrease the amount of stress in your life?

Strawberry Bruschetta Recipe from Reluctant Entertainer
recipe for brownie tart
Brownie Tart from Deliciously Organic

Amy @ A Little Nosh

Friday 27th of May 2011

Laundry advice: Throw a load in the wash as soon as you wake up. Put it in the dryer before you leave the house for work/errands/etc. When you get home, just run the dryer for a few minutes to get the wrinkles out. If you do it every day, it doesn't pile up on you.

Having said that, I could use my own advice.

Julie @ Practically Spent

Friday 27th of May 2011

As far as exercise, I just treat it like medicine that I can't be without. 3 days/week. I'd like to add more so that I could get to yoga and balance ball exercise, but that time will come. I'm a type A+ type, but I've learned to take time to actually sit down and do something I enjoy without feeling guilty. And oddly enough, the exercise is a stress-reliever too. Good luck!


Friday 27th of May 2011

I . I just wrote a post on how I let "life get in the way of taking care of me".Exercise is important because I feel better inside and out. I have little kids they help out as much as they can with age appropriate chores but sometimes the mess will always be there and it's not worth my health to stress over it. My husband helps out as much too at home but he has his stresses at work. Though I hate disorganization and clutter, I remind myself this is the stage of having toddlers it's a losing battle to pick up toys all day long and to make exercise a priority at least 5 days/week.


Friday 27th of May 2011

I have joined Curves and try to go at least three times a week and sometimes four. I have lost ten pounds since January and find I can handle stress and have greater endurance and strength at my work in the geriatric health care field. I try to eat "cleaner" as well, although cookies are my weakness. Feeling healthier has made me less stressed overall. Now, if my knees would follow suit.


Thursday 26th of May 2011

We care for a geriatric, beloved Husky (almost 17 years old) who is an inspiration demanding to walk daily for almost one hour. Her pace is not as fast as before and she no longer pulls like Huskies do naturally...but she walks and walks and we walk with her! This time with our family canine companion is a great relaxing time where, as a family, we get to enjoy being together and forgetting about the daily stress... at least for a short while. We need to make that a longer lasting relaxation of mind, body and spirit! Great post, made us start an interesting discussion at home...Nice photos too.