Scheduling your fun, pleasure and family time is imperative for stress management. Stress, it’s everywhere. We deal with some form of stress daily, but you probably are finding it is a bit more intense over these past few weeks. Events that we perceive as stressful activate our sympathetic system known more commonly as the fight or flight response.
The opposite or parasympathetic system is the rest and digest response that calms us, allows us to rest our
body/mind and digest our food. Far too many of us are living with our nervous system
It is an easy and natural response for the sympathetic side to be on and stay on thus suppressing the parasympathetic side. This puts a strain on our mental health leading to depression, anxiety and the feeling of helplessness.
Why You Need to Master Your Parasympathetic System
You may have already been dealing with lots of stress even before the pandemic hit and now
you are living in overdrive. This is why we need to master the ability to activate the
parasympathetic system more frequently and help control or lower our stress response. We
have talked in the past about meditation and practicing gratitude as a means of helping us deal
However, when you are already hyped up and stressed out, these may seem more difficult to do. Right now, we need a simple action step to put in place. This habit is super easy to do and only requires time initially to create a list.
Creating the habit of “scheduling” pleasure, laughter and fun into your day shut down the fight/flight response. Here’s what you can do now to bring more rest and digest into these crazy times.
How to Schedule Your Fun, Pleasure, and Family Time
Grab a pen and paper. Sit down in a comfy chair, in a quiet place and make a list of all the things
that bring you joy or make you laugh. Write them down in list form. Some examples might be:
- Listening to music that leaves you feeling better. For some, this is relaxing music but for
others, it might be hard rock especially if you sing along at the top of your lungs!
- Dancing it out. For me, that would have to be done in private, but movement and exercise relieve stress!
- Being with nature. Sitting quietly in the grass, staring up at the sky or watching nature unfold is calming to your mind.
- Playing online games. Tetris has been shown to relieve stress and help you sleep better. Be careful though as this can easily become addictive. Set a time limit for yourself daily and stick to it!
- During social distancing use all the technology, we have to stay connected to family and friends. As humans, feeling connected to others is critically important. Schedule a weekly call or even a daily check-in with friends or family. It’s almost as good as seeing them in person.
- Resume a hobby or take up a new one! Pull out that long lost guitar or order supplies for curbside pickup to begin a new hobby.
Once you have your list completed, place it in a prominent place in your home. Each day choose 1 thing and schedule it into the day. It might be at lunch or when you get home from work and definitely before going to bed at night.
The act of intentionally scheduling and experiencing laughter and fun each day will help you combat stress and build resilience of mind. A strong mind helps us to face challenging circumstances while maintaining our mental health. We will bounce back better and stronger when this is all over with a new habit in our lives.