img_8125 Yes ladies, I’m talking to you. All of you superwomen out there, not just the engaged ones, because we could all use a little less stress and a lot more self care in our lives. I understand how planning a wedding, working full time, ramping up your exercise routine for those perfectly sculpted triceps come your wedding day, keeping your house clean, maintaining your relationships; both friendly & romantic, trying to eat healthy and all of the million other things you do each day can seem a little daunting- hell downright overwhelming. So my question is this, how are you doing? What do you do to unwind and make time to come back into yourself to recharge? I’m going to share with you a few of my personal strategies for not just getting by but thriving during my engagement. I’d love it if you shared with me some of yours in the comments section below. In the morning I wake up an hour and a half earlier than I need to for some alone time. I start by making a pot of french press. Yup, I’m into coffee, one day I’ll do a post comparing the pros and cons, for now just know this: me on coffee=happy Shannon, me off coffee=cranky, grumpy, non focused Shannon sipping tea furiously hoping it will magically turn into coffee. You get the picture. With my favorite coffee mug in hand I sit down with a blanket on the couch, open my journal and I write for anywhere from 20-30 minutes. It’s a practice I got into many years ago when I took a course called The Artist’s Way at The Open Center taught by the writer Julia Cameron. When I was taking the course you were encouraged to do morning pages everyday and plan weekly artist’s dates (aka: a date with yourself to explore your interests, no phone allowed). It was a very transformative time in my life and I go back to that whenever life gets a little crazy. The objective of morning pages is to write free flow, don’t edit, just get your thoughts down on the page. Get all the ideas that fill you with stress out so you are ready to embrace your day. This is literally the best thing I do for myself and it’s a time where ideas come to me and I get excited about what is coming next! Try this one thing for a week, just get up and write daily. It might take some time to get used to but once you are in the swing of it you will love it. A great way to finish your morning pages is by writing about 3 things you are grateful for so you get in the habit of practicing gratitude. The more you acknowledge what you have and show gratitude for it, the more you will have to be grateful for in your life. After morning pages I do yoga for 30 to 45 minutes. Some days I do interval workouts instead, mostly Jillian Michaels that I find on Youtube. The point is I try to give myself some time to get into my body before I start my workday. I get my blood pumping, my energy up and my fat burning. I usually do yoga because it also connects me to that quiet place inside where I really appreciate my body and find strength in what I can do. I take time to breath deeply through the challenging poses and bring that strength into the challenging situations I face during my day, knowing I can handle them as they come one at a time. I give gratitude at the end of my practice for what I’ve just done and all I can do. See a pattern here, GRATITUDE is where it’s at! Who can be stressed when they are grateful? Starting your day positive will translate into everything you do. These 2 things, journaling and exercise in the morning are my everyday ways of destressing. Other things I do depending on the day include sipping on a glass of wine, reading a really great book, going to dinner with a girlfriend, kissing my man, cooking a delicious meal, drinking some lemon ginger tea, cuddling with my dog, and buying beautiful flowers for the kitchen table. This week I was able to take a random day off and really take this destressing to the next level. I started by getting in a workout, then had an amazing massage, followed by a facial. My estitician Bonnie has a seasonal pumpkin mask on her facebook page so like her page and check it out! Bonnie said it’s the perfect mask to apply while you take a nice relaxing bath. Yet another way to destress while beautifying! I also cooked some of my favorite foods. Cooking is actually one of my top ways to unwind, especially as I sip red wine! I’m telling you this because as a bride, you need to pamper yourself more than you normally would to counteract the stress, and because this is your time, when else will you be a bride after all? img_7567