8 Steps to a More Intentional, Less Stressed Life

8 steps to a more intentional, less stressed life

There are many reasons why people get stressed – work, traffic, emotional needs of our children or partner, too many demands and too little time or too few people to do what needs to be done.

I believe though that the source of all stress comes when our expectations are not being aligned with our reality.

We expect to sleep all night, but one of our kids wakes up with bathroom requests or nightmares. We are stressed of what will happen when we can’t count on a clear head to make decisions.
We expect to finish our work in time, only to be bombarded by a last minute request. We are stressed about how this will impact upon what we do with our thoughts and time until the task is completed.
We expect to enjoy time with our child, but he has had a rough day at school and starts the meltdown three minutes after pick-up. Instead of pleasant dialogue, we get anger and sadness. We are stressed because we want to be respectful and present with what they are going through, but in the same time not forget about our own need of connection.

While we are not all triggered by the same things, I found that I personally have a pre-disposition to be calm, listen and not be overwhelmed when the small things in life are not in the way.

I can listen to my kids releasing their emotions in an empathic way if I don’t have to be thinking we only have one hour left until dinner time and I have no food to put on the table.
I can take deep breaths through a tired morning if I know I don’t have to worry about breakfast and lunch boxes.
I don’t have to take one small incident and run with it in my head when I know I have my techniques of coping with this.
I can sit down on the floor and play with my kids when I know there isn’t a mountain of laundry that needs folding.

In my own life, I discovered that the more decisions I have to make in a day, the more the quality of those decisions decreases. When I saw this article that explains decision fatigue and how we only have a finite capacity of making good decision, it all fell into place.
I’ve got three kids under five, I run my business from home and so far changed continents every two years.
I used to wake up in the morning and spend blank minutes starring in a full fridge without being able to come up with a breakfast idea.
I would take out clothes and try them on only to discover they have a stain or they no longer fit me.
I would constantly cook one of the three standard meals: pasta, fish in the oven or eggs and not really enjoying any of it.

I wanted to be a present and involved mother and that became my priority. But that meant I had no more brain-width to manage the mundane. So I decided to automate it.

Here are the eight things that made my life intentional and less stressed:

1. Decide in the evening what you will wear the next day.

Put everything out, from underwear and socks to purse and backpacks. Your time is valuable and your brain deserves the peace that comes from knowing what to expect next.

2. Plan the food one week in advance

Write down the breakfast, lunch and dinner for the entire week. Make it easy on yourself and cook a bigger dinner which you can have as leftovers for lunch the next day. Have three breakfasts ideas which you can rotate or prepare in advance.

3. Cook once per day or less

Kids eat a lot and often. Which can be taxing on your time. The less time you spend in the kitchen, the more time you can be with your kids or doing things that you love doing. Cook once per day, in the evening, or even less if you can.

4. Prepare in advance

Almost nothing is prepared from scratch in my house the moment it’s supposed to be used. I do food prep once per week and I cook quinoa, rice and lentils, healthy snacks, chia gel, wash and cut fruits and veggies and prepare as much as I can. This is usually a 2-hour block on Saturday afternoon while the kids are taking a nap.

5. Batch your work

The more topics we are trying to cover, the more likely we are to become overwhelmed. I’ve started experimenting recently with “batching” which is doing the same kind of work for extended periods of time.
This proved not only useful for my work life, but it also benefited me around the house. I only do laundry on Fridays, groceries on Wednesdays and food prep on Saturday.

6. Plan for emergencies

Unexpected situations will arise. There will be sick kids, PMS-ing moms, exhausted dads and emotional toddlers. While we can’t control what will happen and when will it occur, we can plan ahead for what we will do for ourselves once any of these situations occur.

7. Have a sacred morning ritual

When the way you spend the first hour of your day is centered on self-care, kindness, silence and intention, the rest of the day will continue from a place of calm. Make it a priority to decide how to achieve this even when you have many small children. Wake up a bit earlier even when at the beginning that only means you get to drink your coffee in silence.

8. Be clear about the mother you want to be

What do you hold as an ultimate value and priority in your life as a mom? What kind of a parent do you want to be? What would you like your kids to remember about their mother? Start writing these things down and center your efforts not only into becoming that person but also into aligning your daily actions into your values.

Living a conscious life is rewarding. You will experience clarity, kindness, understanding and a deep sense of purpose. And it all starts with a decision to live your life differently than what you did before.

How do you want to feel and how do you want to conduct your life?

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8 steps to a more intentional, less stressed life

The source of all stress comes from our expectations not being aligned with our reality.
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