A Key to Stress-free Living

2/25/2015 - 9:47:38 AM

Living life in the fast lane

Any of of us that have spend a few years + some on planet earth all know what it means to stop two seconds in the middle of crazier days and wish for a minute to relax with less to do and no place to go. In fact, when it get’s really bad everything we do starts to happen slo-mo while everything we need to do keeps staring accusingly at us from a corner or planner. Our muscles tense and knot, our routines become inefficient and tangled, we get headaches, digestive issues start to surface, patience snaps, and worse the motivation to enjoy life goes way down. The paradox is we normally do more, work more and go more places because we think we are enjoying life more that way, until we end up completely stressed out and at the end of our “rope” and it suddenly occurs to us that this lifestyle is doing us no good. The problem is that by then we feel like we’re already caught in traffic we can’t get out of.

1. Take the Exit

If you’re stuck anyway, you should probably stop and figure out Plan B before Plan Nothing drives you crazy or road rage takes over. Thing is, most of have zero idea for how to reschedule and structure our lives to nudge out the things that aren’t necessary when we don’t even know what is necessary. Best way we can think to explain taking control of your schedule is that it is a little like the GAPS diet. You take out everything but the bare necessities and slowly start adding things in to see what exactly does or doesn’t work for you.

What this looks like - Example A

Set one month aside and strip it down to the bare amount of commitments that are there every month. Summer vacation will be coming up and this is a good time for families with kids to get a grip on managing their time. It will mean a few uncomfortable no’s, but learning to base 1-2 evenings and days from home is essential for parents with kids, and beneficial for everyone else. Kids and adults alike benefit from a controlled schedule with equal amounts of work and play.

If this looks impossible to you it’s probably time for a change.

Tip: If you’re always running places for your kids try to pare it down to 1 major activity a week per child. It’s almost impossible to get good at a a lot of things at once, so it’s better to have them focus on one activity while cutting down on commute time as well.

2. Road Trip with no Map - Look Ahead

After you sit down and figure out those commitments that (a.) you have to schedule everything else around and (b.) those you want to schedule in around the have to’s figure out a route to get from a- b. Most people don’t go on a road trip without checking their route first, and planning how much ground they can reasonably expect to cover that day. At the end of the day you may have traveled a little more or less, but at least you will have gotten somewhere. Either way you have to have a game plan and travel the distance you can reasonably expect for that day. Our problem is we don’t map out our days and weeks the same way, and end up cramming way more distance into our days, sometimes just going in circles the whole time.

How this works

You have your basic commitments, right? Now fill in the rest. Use a calendar to plan out a week or two ahead and write everything down. Decide how much you want to commit in a specific week and say no to the things you don’t reasonably have time for. Take into consideration that some things need to benefit you, and some things need to benefit others.

3. Park it - Take Time out to have Fun

All right! So here’s the fun part. Once you have (a) figured out the bare bones (necessary commitments) i.e. work, school, church, shopping, bills (b.) and added the stuff that makes up life, i.e. friends, family, kids sports and activities, classes, it’s  really important to take time out for (c.) the fun things. A stress-free life doesn’t always mean sitting in one place and doing nothing, but taking time out to do things that you really enjoy. It can be a local get-together, an evening out to the movies, fun shopping, BBQ with friends, or your local pizzeria or winery. Places often schedule events that are centered around their products to give you free samples of what they offer along with a chance to mix and mingle with other people. (like our Apple Tasting event that we have hosted a few months running or the list of local Lancaster events here)

How it looks

Create a slush money fund earmarked, “fun,” and throw all your spare change and few dollars toward it at the end of each day. You’ll be surprised how much you collect and it will feel like whatever you do with that money will be free. One caution: don’t push yourself to do something expensive because its the thing to do, but do it because you really enjoy it. For example if all your friends love snowboarding, and you love bird-watching by all means go do something like watching birds, but if you absolutely love snowboarding than by all means get out and do it, even if you can just go 1-2 times a winter. If you’d rather stay close by the fire and plan the next month, by all means tune in and make the hot chocolate we have featured this week and indulge - it’s a bit cheaper than snowboarding.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Throwback to the hot chocolate bar at the party that was excellant. We haven’t yet posted that recipe and pulled back a few pictures as well as a few new ones. This hot chocolate was a bit sweet, so if you prefer something less sweet pull back on the sugar content to ? cup, even if just to make room for marshmallows, m&m’s or whipped cream with chocolate sprinkles.


  • 1/2 c sugar

  • 1/4 c Dutch cocoa powder

  • 1/4 c water

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • Bring to a boil while stirring, boil 1 min stirring constantly. Add:

  • 4 c milk

  • Heat till steaming, stirring as needed, remove from heat & add:

  • 1 tsp vanilla

This is one of those moments to slow down and enjoy winter, friendship, and each other. In the end we have found this to be the one best way to reduce stress: spending time with those we love eating good food and enjoying each other.

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