I’ve shared both on here and on instagram that Michael and I are walking through infertility right now, and on a journey in trying to get pregnant with baby #2. We have pressed pause on fertility treatments for the time being, but we are both working on our health and doing everything we can to optimize our chances at conceiving naturally. A huge part of that is decreasing stress – both physical and mental/emotional! While I started out this ‘decrease stress’ journey with the purpose of fertility in find…decreasing stress in my life has truly brought about so many other positive changes (even though we aren’t pregnant yet). And I’m so thankful for this journey I have been on! So today I wanted to share some of the biggest changes I have made in the last few months to decrease stress in my life, in hopes that it can also help you live a more stress-free, joy-filled life!
one. decreasing alcohol consumption
I shared a while ago that I read the book quit like a woman (and I’m also currently reading this naked on mind on audible) and it really made me evaluate my relationship + habits with alcohol. Since we are trying to conceive, my dietician / fertility doctor recommended only drinking 1-2x a week. Initially when I tried to cut back to 1-2 nights a week, it was HARD. Which is what made me dive deeper and really evaluate “why am I having such a hard time not having a glass of wine each night?” And i realized how much I was really using alcohol (my nightly glass at 6pm) as a crutch – I felt stressed at the end of the day and wanted to unwind…so I’d pour a glass of wine.
I could do a whole blog post on this topic alone but I’ll try and keep it short. I took a 6 week hiatus from drinking entirely and it was amazing! I had a glass of champagne about a week ago when Michael and I moved into the new house and then I had one cocktail on our sushi date night. But…those are the only 2 drinks I’ve had in the last 8ish weeks now. And i’ve noticed a tremendous decrease in stress. Initially, alcohol feels like it can ‘take the edge off’ and help you relax…but in the long run, alcohol actually ends up causing more anxiety. It also disrupts your sleep which leads to greater stress.
For now, I feel great about drinking occasionally but tbh since I took that 6 week break…it showed me how much better I feel without alcohol so I honestly don’t really crave it anymore! Making this shift has really helped decrease stress in my life! I thought it would be the worst thing ever haha but it’s actually been amazing!
two. dedicated screen-free time
I’ve shared before that I started putting my phone in the bathroom at night (not sleeping with it by the bed) and I now LOVE this habit. Beyond that though…I’ve tried to be more conscious at night to have a ‘cut-off’ time with screens. I’m not always perfect with this but I try and be done with my screentime by 9. After that, I can read or play a game with Michael or take a bath but…I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce my screen time and it’s helped decrease stress in so many ways. 1 – it’s made me more focused on michael / relationships. 2 – it helps me wind down before bed so I sleep better (which decreases stress) and 3 – it helps with the ‘comparison game’ we can all play when we just live our life scrolling through an instagram feed. There is so much life and joy and peace to be had outside of our phone screens and I’ve noticed that making a conscious effort to put my phone away by 9 or not bring it with me on our family walks or leave it plugged in at dinner time…choices like that…have really helped decrease stress!
three. yoga / changing my exercise routine
You guys know how much I love orangetheory and running and HIIT workouts! I’ve run marathons and half marathons and my go-to type of workout is INTENSE. In the past few months though I’ve seen how stressful high intensity workouts can be on your body though…when you are doing those types of workouts multiple days a week. It is A LOT of stress on your body, which can affect your metabolism, hunger, blood sugar levels, cravings, sleep etc.
In the last few months I have shifted my workout routine to be much more focused on strength training, yoga / pilates, or going for walks. Again, this is something I thought I would hate but surprisingly…I have grown to love it. I used to be so addicted to always “closing all my rings” and burning as many calories as possible in a workout and now…I am shifting my mindset from “every workout has to be intense and super sweaty” to “exercise is beneficial and healthy for my body, and exercise is simply moving my body”. So sometimes that is a 27minute Melissa Wood Health flow. Sometimes it’s a bike ride with Michael and Shiloh or a corepower yoga sculpt class or an upper body strength workout. Yes, I still love running and will continue to do so! But I am no longer tied to this mindset of ‘every workout has to be 60mins of intense sweat for it to count’. And it’s so freeing and my body and mind feel so much less stressed because of it. I have more energy throughout the day, I actually feel stronger / less fatigued in my strength workouts, I feel less focused on food because my workouts aren’t making me so hungry all day long. I’m sleeping better at night because i’m not spiking my cortisol crazy high from high intensity workouts. Overall I honestly just feel more balanced!
So decreasing the intensity of my workouts has helped decrease stress but yoga [both corepower yoga and melissa wood health] has also been so beneficial in decreasing stress. It truly does calm my mind and help me feel at peace, while also giving my whole body an incredible workout! I used to force myself to try and do yoga maybe once a month lol and now I legit want to do it all the time!
I started going to acupuncture once a week at eleven wellness a few months ago and it has been amazing. Michael and I both started going for fertility reasons but it has been my once a week treat where I totally relax and take the best nap ever haha. I am terrified of needles so I thought I would hate it but it is not painful at all and you can’t even feel the needles (i also don’t look at them). Acupuncture can be beneficial for so many things from fertility to chronic pain, sleep issues, hormone imbalances, stress and more. I think it’s really helped with my sleep & stress levels (and hopefully it will help with fertility soon too!).
five. prioritizing / scheduling downtime
I am a 3 enneagram to my core. I am all about productivity and to-do lists and having every minute of my day planned out. In 2020 though I really came to realize what a toll that was taking on my mental health and relationships! Just because there are 24hrs in a day does not mean I need to fill 24hrs with work / productivity. I’ve learned to create space for things like family walks (without my phone), taking a bath at night, sitting on the porch and reading a book, going for a walk and listening to a podcast that encourages me. Our bodies / brains were not created to be operating at 100%, 100% of the time. This will lead to burnout and stress and poor sleep and just….an unhappy life.
As hard as it’s been for me to legitimately carve out time where I am not productive, it has helped teach my brain to slow down which has led to better sleep and of course, less stress!
Okay this was such a long post haha but tbh I could write an entire blog post about each one of these 5 topics! So I tried to keep this concise! Let me know what some of your biggest tips are for decreasing stress! I’ve come a long way but still have a lot to learn!