Being a work-at-home woman is not without its challenges. To have more time to devote to our families and more flexibility to pursue other interests, work-at-home women have to deal with challenges that their employed-outside-the-home peers simply don’t face.
I find the best way to deal with the challenges of being a work-at-home woman is to keep my personal values at the forefront of my consciousness. Self-knowledge is an extremely important, yet often undervalued, asset. Without self-knowledge and understanding, you will never be able to achieve a life that is optimal for you.
Sadly, popular culture, with its emphasis on material acquisition and wealth, can sometimes make staying true to your self a challenge.
To be sure I’m guided by what matters most to me, I have acquired a set of tools that I use regularly. These tools help me to maintain my focus on living a life that is optimal for me. They keep me connected to my internal compass, so that I’m always living a life that I choose, and not one that greedy and aggressive marketers, or even well-meaning friends and family, suggest I ought to be living.
These tools also help me to overcome any negative internal messages I may have about situations (because I am human, after all, and am thus at times susceptible to the harsh criticisms of other).
I offer these tools here for those of you who perhaps struggle to stay connected to your own true north, or who are interested in enhancing your own personal toolbox of resources for achieving the success you desire and living the life of your dreams. I hope you will find them as helpful as I have.
Here are four tools for reducing stress as a work-at-home woman:
1. My Calendar
Like all work-at-home women, I have a lot to keep track of, a lot to remember. My calendar helps me stay on track, reminding me of important events and meetings.
But I also use my calendar to stay committed to the things that are important to me. I schedule such things as exercise and time to meet with friends. That way, these important elements of my life don’t get overlooked.
I have long preferred a paper calendar both for its portability and for the freedom it affords me to see weeks and months at a glance. But these days I’m experimenting with the calendar on my iPad, though I’m still not sure I love it. And forget the calendar on my smartphone. It’s way too small to be of use.
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2. My Journal
Writing is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful tools available to humankind. Many people think the power of writing lies in its ability to inform and educate others. But I find the true power of writing lies in the ability it gives me to stay informed and educated about myself.
One of my favorite journal writing activities is to use my non-dominant hand to try to answer questions that I am struggling to understand. For instance, if I am avoiding completing a task that needs to be done to enhance my business, I might spend some time letting my non-dominant handwrite about why I’m avoiding this task.
Writing with your non-dominant hand allows you to access areas of your brain that typically are not activated when you are writing as you normally do. When these areas are activated, you can have important insights into your behaviors and deepest beliefs. These insights might sometimes be startling, but they are always informative.
My journal is also the place where I keep track of ideas or long to-do lists. Knowing I’ve written things down keeps me from being overwhelmed. And if I’m not overwhelmed, I’m more likely to get everything done.
So I try to keep some type of journal with me at all times, and I always make sure I have one right by my bed. That way, I never have to worry about forgetting some exciting brainstorm that wakes me up in the middle of the night.
I first learned to meditate when my yoga teachers told me it would help to deepen my practice. I’ve continued to meditate because, at those times when life becomes especially challenging, meditation offers me a refuge, a place to find quiet in the storm.
But the most valuable gift of a regular meditation practice is the ability to remain mindful, to stay present to each moment in life. When you are mindful, you are aware of when and why your emotions shift throughout the day. You understand what brings you joy, and you become clear when your ability to experience happiness and ease are being disrupted.
This knowledge is enormously powerful. Negative emotional states are neither productive nor healthy, so understanding the causes of those states can help you to make choices about how and where you spend your time.
In addition to feeling more in control of my life, I continue to meditate because I now know just how beneficial meditation is for the brain. Numerous studies have shown that meditation changes the brain in positive ways that are too numerous to recount here.
But when a nurse recently told me that at age 50, I have the blood pressure of a 20-year-old, I said a little prayer of gratitude for my meditation practice.
4. Meridian Tapping (EFT)
This is the most recent, and possibly the most valuable tool in my collection. I use meridian tapping whenever I have an emotional reaction that I think I “shouldn’t” be having, but I feel powerless to prevent.
Meridian tapping has been shown to disrupt the body’s production of stress hormones. These hormones are usually present when you are experiencing feelings like anger, fear, or frustration. In addition to being linked to all sorts of nasty medical conditions, stress hormones also have a negative impact on your brain’s ability to think clearly and act logically.
Being able to interrupt the production of these hormones at times of stress is enormously useful. But the true beauty of meridian tapping lies in its ability to change the structure of the brain. So if you find that certain situations always cause you to feel negative, you can use meridian tapping to change the way your brain responds to those situations. This is enormously useful for situations that you can’t avoid, or even more, that you’d actually like to be able to enjoy.
Meridian tapping has been shown to be useful for many conditions, including fears and phobias, stress, weight loss, even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Are you surprised by this list? If you find yourself feeling stressed because you are unable to get through the tasks you need to accomplish each day, if you are frustrated because you waste too much time spinning your wheels instead of making progress towards your goal, or if you’d just like to feel a greater sense of ease and comfort in your life, why don’t you give them a try? There are no harmful side effects, and the benefits are sure to be many.
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Elana Peled, Ed.D. works with people who struggle to achieve their work and educational goals by helping them to gain greater understanding and awareness of themselves and enhanced confidence in their abilities to live the lives of their dreams. She is an author, a certified EFT practitioner, the creator of The College Success Toolkit, and the founder of Academic Success For All.
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