Stress Relief Through Organization

Stress relief is vital in perimenopause and menopause.  Why? Menopause is one the most stressful phases of a women’s life.  Your hormones levels change, triggering a wild ride for all systems in your body.   Stress exacerbates EVERY menopause symptom.

One study evaluating stress and hot flashes found that women who rated themselves as “moderately anxious” due to life’s stress experienced three times as many hot flashes to women who rated themselves in the “normal” anxiety range. Women in this same study with “high” anxiety scores experienced five times as many hot flashes. Stress is your enemy in menopause!

To get a little background on stress and cortisol check out information here.

In a nutshell, when you experience stress your primal hard-wired self goes into “fight or flight” mode.  In this state, your body produces increased amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone). In perimenopause and menopause due to your body’s existing stress, let just say things get complicated.

Stress is defined as “a feeling of anxiety and tension brought on by anything that you perceive as a threat to your well-being”.  It is a physiological, mental or emotional reaction.  So, that being said, stress is subjective.

One proven strategy to reduce stress is to get organized!  Rather than give you a laundry list of obvious organizational tips, I thought we would share two biggies.  Here they are:

Stress Relief Strategies

  1. Tame your email once and for all
    1. Check your email ONLY at specific times of day – set aside specific times of day to check and respond to email. For example, one hour after rising (checking first thing when you get up could add additional stress), mid-morning, late afternoon, early evening.  If you react to email as it comes into your inbox, you will get nothing accomplished.  This tactic is easier said than done because most of us are addicted to checking our inbox.
    2. Set up a system and stick with it – here’s a fantastic organization idea! Create labels (if you use Google Gmail) or folders to organize and prioritize your never ending inbox. For example @Today, @Tickler and @Sort.  That way, when you sit down to fully focus on your email (at specific times as noted above) you can sort your email into the proper folder.

To explain a little further:

Using the “@” symbol gets the folder to the top of your view in your email account

  • @Today – those emails that need quick response or action by the end of the day.
  • @Tickler – put emails that are associated with appointments or a specific date into this folder for easy access.
  • @Sort – emails go here that you might want to read later. A little hint, you probably won’t look at the majority of these and after thirty days, just delete them.

Depending on the size of your inbox, the initial triage portion can take you a few hours or up to a couple of days.  But don’t give up.  Work at it a little at a time.  It took you a long time to get it this way. I’ve heard of this approach working for people with tens of thousands of emails. There’s hope!

Getting the email monster under control is a fantastic accomplishment.  The net effect of this project?  Within a few weeks, you have a new habit AND an empty inbox at the end of the day.  That’s stress relief!

  1. Do you KonMari?

I’m not off my rocker here.  This organizational method is life changing.  Seriously. It combines both a mindset about our stuff as well as a nifty folding technique that gets your drawers looking more beautifully organized than you ever expected.

Japanese tidying consultant (now that’s a cool title!), Marie Kondo, is known for helping her clients find purpose, gain confidence, become happier, and even reduce anxiety through her techniques.

A few of her key principles follow:

  1. Discard things that don’t spark joy. When I first heard this idea, it didn’t quite make sense.  But think about it, related to your clothing it certainly does. If you wouldn’t wear a particular dress right now, you’re holding onto it “until you reach a certain weight”, it’s missing a button, or it doesn’t make you feel amazing…toss or donate.
  2. The “tidying festival” – (don’t get overwhelmed; start with one drawer or one closet) – empty out the contents of the entire space. Yes, empty it.  Then pick up each article of clothing and ask yourself, “does this (insert thing…top, pair of jeans, jacket) bring me joy?  Depending on the answer, keep it, toss it or donate it.  Can’t you feel the stress leaving your body already?  This exercise enables you get to know what stuff you have AND validate that it’s the stuff you want.  Plus, it gives you breathing room in terms of physical space and it is organized.

Going forward, you will be 100% aware of what you have in your closet.  How many times have you purchased something and discovered you had the same (or very similar) thing?

  1. Her folding method
    It is brilliant. http://tidyingup.com/

Depending upon where you are in your menopause experience right now you may feel one of two things regarding this information.  Either,

  1. Well, duh, these organization ideas make sense. It’s too simple.  I would challenge you in how you think about this concept. Within this simplicity hides your much-needed stress relief through greater organization.  Go ahead, really dive into these techniques, master them and watch how they remove stress.

OR

  1. OMG, I can’t do one more thing! Organize my email?! Clean out my closets?! I can barely get out of bed in the morning and when I do, I can’t remember what I’m doing or I’m busy standing in front of my freezer because of my hot flashes.

I know.  I get it.  This menopause stuff can be the absolute pits sometimes.  So, just tuck these ideas away.  When you are having a better day, find the post it note where you wrote down these ideas and give one of them another look.  It may just be the thing you need to do to inject some organization into your life.  The stress relief provided by a little organization will do wonders for your spirit and tame that cortisol.

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