How do you deal with life’s stresses and challenges?

Life can be a roller coaster of joy and sorrow. Everyone has different challenges to deal with and how you deal with them ultimately defines how you live your life. We’ve been thrown a lot of curveballs over the past few years. I don’t want to bore you with all those details but I would like to share just some of the strategies that are helping me manage stress and anxiety while striving to live my best life.

Breathing. I use meditation to focus on gratitude and to calm me down especially when I can feel my anxiety rising. This has helped me so much. I can’t adequately describe it but it has been life changing. I can feel my energy calming and relaxing. It’s a great tool. I started with various guided meditations and now am able to do it myself. Even a short time helps. Last summer, when we returned to Shanghai from Canada, my oldest daughter was having trouble falling asleep. She just could not settle and was getting herself wound up. I downloaded a guided meditation and she played it on her iPod. It took some getting use to but she used it for months and now doesn’t need it anymore. She falls asleep peacefully……most nights.

Make a list. I’ve always been a list maker but when life is getting stressful, my list helps me to focus on accomplishing one item at a time. Only one item because if I start to think about everything going on it can become overwhelming. The feeling of accomplishment helps with forward movement, motivation, focus and keeps me from getting “stuck” in my own head.

Set goals for yourself. Long term and short term goals. Big and small. Write them all down. Make a plan to accomplish them….and then follow through. Cut yourself some slack when life gets in the way of checking off items but don’t stop trying to accomplish those goals.

Make self-care a priority. Everyone knows exercise and nutrition are important and we have made some great progress in that area as a family . Still lots of work to do but we have been focusing on living a healtier life and have both lost the weight that we gained when we moved to China 3 years ago…hhmmmmm….it was an amazing first year of dining out in Shanghai HAHA. But I’m also talking about smaller, simpler, daily tasks of self-care like moisturizing, flossing, cleaning my skin or soaking in a hot bath. Just basic self-care. Doing these tasks with love and gratitude have helped me accept and love myself and be more grateful for my body. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the attention and care you deserve.

Reach out to your support group or see a therapist or BOTH! Find people you trust and love that can support you emotionally and without judgement. Have people in your life that will send you loving energy and positive thoughts and give you solid advice. For me, it has always been quality over quantity in the friend department. I am blessed to have beautiful people in my life that love and support me and my family all over the world. But don’t wait too long to open up because you’ll end up feeling alone….and that is never good. Once I opened up, I could feel the love and support coming our way and it helps makes everything feel lighter.

Remembering that this is our daughters’ childhood. They deserve a happy childhood. I don’t mean completely shielding them from life’s challenges. Life will inevitably be tough at times and they need to develop the coping skills to deal with it. They are watching how we deal with challenges and how we communicate as a couple. This will shape how they deal with their life and I want to be a good role model for them. I strive to be really present with them and remember to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. There is nothing sweeter than hearing your children’s belly laughs….pure joy.

Gratitude for the people in my life. I don’t have it all figured out, by any means, but what I do know is that the most beautiful part of my life is the people in it. It makes me think of the lyrics “for I’m a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love” from Pearl Jam’s song Just Breath. When our friend, Scott, passed away, “da b’ys”, as we say in Newfoundland, were jamming this song at the funeral party. That line just stuck in my brain. It still pops in my head at the most random times and is always a good reminder that makes me smile. Scott was a special man who died too young but he made a lasting impression on literally everyone who met him. He’s been gone for 7 years and still makes us laugh on a regular basis with memories of his crazy antics. His life was too short but his legacy is one of love and laughter. We have a life filled with love and laughter and know how lucky we are. I have no intention of ever taking that for granted. I’m thankful that my daughters have role models in their lives that are exceptional humans and they will always have people that love and support them.

My sister, Marlayne, is an incredible role model for me. She is beautiful, wise and kind and has been a sounding board for me for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, she shared “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz with me. It has helped formed how I deal with life. I use to worry so much about what people would think or would feel bad if I couldn’t do something I was asked to do. But by always speaking the truth with the right intention, you take away all the bullshit and worry. It’s very freeing. If you are truly always doing your best, then you can’t help but feel content. It brings peace and removes self-judgement. It takes a while to really own it but when you do, it feels good. I credit some of the peace and removal of self-judgement to turning 40…..but I think that is another blog post in itself….right ladies??!!

Enjoy The Four Agreements and I hope it helps you in your daily life like it did for me.

I would love to hear your strategies for dealing with life’s stresses and challenges because, at the end of the day, we are all on this roller coaster together. Post a comment or send me an email – I have learned so much from my community and am always hungry to learn and share more. Thanks for reading.

Until next time!
Only joy, only love,

4 thoughts on “How do you deal with life’s stresses and challenges?

  1. Another beautiful post Michelle. I’m so grateful to have you and Melanie as my sisters. I’m still working on the Four Agreements, but I LOVE them. Words to live by for sure. Love you so much. xoxo


    1. Thanks Mar! I love you and Melly, and your gorgeous families, so much. I’m still working on the four agreements too but hey, we are all works in progress. 😘😘


  2. Thanks so much for this post. I’m half way through “The Four Agreements” and already I can see the changes in how I view and deal with life.


  3. I love these 4 agreements. So true. I often remind myself that people’s actions aren’t all about me. It definitely helps maintain some perspective!

    Great post!


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