Apartment hunting, job, part-time job, packing, haircuts, doctors appointments, meals… where is the time for me to have fun, make art, and RELAX?!  I don’t even have time right now for exercise, which is always my go-to stress relief.

We all have those days, weeks, or months where we are on the run non-stop.  But how we all decide to cope with these moments can be helpful or hurtful.

CopyRight Carrie Brummer All Rights Reserved 2011

Sometimes a “timeout” to see the big picture can help slow you down.

(1) Make sure you sleep!

I can’t remember where I heard it, but isn’t it true sleep is always the first to go when time is in a crunch?  It is a cultural oddity, for certain.  People can survive with only water and limited or no food for one week.  What would happen if people had very limited or no sleep for one week?  Results of sleep deprivation can include hallucinations and physical injury!

Think you know everything you need to know about sleep?  Take this quiz to see your sleep IQ.  (I got an 8 out of 10 if you were curious).

40 Facts you didn’t know about Sleep: “The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon.  The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.”

UCLA has a sleep research program if you want further research and information.

Clearly, being stressed can already affect concentration, losing sleep as well will only compound our problems!

(2)  Give yourself quiet time.

Yeah, I know I said time is limited and I am maxed out.  But I know if I give myself even 5 minutes of quiet after a meal or before bed I have some time to decompress and collect my thoughts.  When I am busy like this my mind is racing 100 times per minute and anticipating future moments and needs at the same time.  Forcing some quiet time to be present allows my brain to run through some more of that nonsense in my head and possibly get it to slow down or shut up! (Sometimes, if my head is especially noisy, I take out my journal and list it or write it all out.  Anything to stop the voices! 🙂 )

(3) Eat well.

This is another hard one and this is the number I am seriously failing at in my current rushed moment.  But, when life is slower, if you can find some short and easy recipes, you might be more likely to grab something quick, easy and good for you rather than pop by Subway or Dominoes on the way home from work.

Just yesterday I found this recipe for Broccoli Quesadillas that seems manageable and a fast and easy quesadilla meal.  Another route for fast and easy cooking is to go minimal.  The Stone Soup is a great blog that lists some recipes that have only 5 ingredients or less.  Jules Clancy, the author, goes to great lengths to discover easy, tasty, and healthy food for her readers.

These steps all seem obvious but in a moment of hurry and stress these are the first things to go. Really, our whole life depends on these positive habits and we all deserve to be healthy and happy.  If our bodies are functioning in times of stress, we will be more ready to cope with any additional hurdles that cross our paths.

Okay, so now we have gotten through our basic needs in times of stress.  Now, what are additional coping strategies?  How can we keep the creativity alive when we are too busy to blow our noses?!

If you love dance but don’t have time to practice, dance while you get dressed.  Dance while making dinner.  Dance while waiting at a bus stop. (Okay, so some may not be comfortable with the latter…silly social norms).

If you can’t develop the character for your novel or you don’t have time for that big mural, you can still make time for creative play.  This will help keep the creative fun alive while you are stuck in the humdrum and busy-ness that can come with life!  For example, doodle at meetings (did you know it actually helps attention?!) or keep a small notebook for the subway ride or when you are waiting for a cab to do a little of your creative goal.  Something is better than nothing and maybe it can hold you over until life gets out of the way.

There are two more suggestions I highly recommend to you: laugh and get a massage!  Laughter spreads endorphins throughout your body, which will relax you.  Massages are a great healthy way to work out some of the tension you already have in your body. (Just be sure to drink lots of water after to help flush the toxins released!)

So, if you have had time to read this during your mad, stressful, rushed week I am sure you can take 5 minutes of quiet time or make a meal in 10 minutes.  Give yourself the love you deserve all of the time, but especially in times of stress!  You deserve it 🙂

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