If you were among the privileged, you got to experience childhood in the 1990s…A happier and simpler time of psychedelic Lisa Frank folders, Jelly shoes, not-so healthy snack that were essentially frosting to go (remember Dunkaroos?), electronic pets, and TGIF (not the restaurant). We played outside unsupervised with more butterfly clips in our hair than were in the yard. A simpler time when there were only 2 genders to pick from, and you knew which one you were! I truly pity generations after ours that won’t get the same experience that we did (I blame smart phones and internet 😉 ) . And… this nostalgic nerd is loving the reboots of childhood classics like Boy Meets World and Full House, 90s fashion trends, and Pandora stations that cater to my nostalgia!
The other day, I heard a catchy song by twenty-one pilots called “Stressed Out” that narrated how magical childhood was and how disenchanted with adult responsibilities and realities we have become. Coincidently, in my graduate work, I’ve been researching the causes and effects of stress on women’s emotion and physical health. Not only does stress cause you to act like a basket case, you quite literally will look like one too, as stress can cause weight gain, weaker immune systems, and yes, even saggy, acned skin (yeah puberty and menopause simultaneously…sweet)! Along with this study, I have come across are therapeutic methods to health alleviate and manage that stress. Comically enough, some of the professionally recommended solutions are quite practical and entertaining.
So here’s a few ways I am embracing my 90s roots to promote happier and healthier year!
10 Tips to Stress Less:
- Unplug…Knowing how to relax is the first step… I never remember my mom telling me how go play; there was no instruction manual… we just entertained ourselves…whether we were making up choreography for Spice Girls’ songs, looking for snap turtles in the pond or pretending to be Power Rangers on the trampoline…we could create our own fun! Find what works for you to help you relax, but I would caution against browsing Facebook or the internet as your leisure time. Comparison is the thief of joy. There is direct correlation to depression and time spent on social media. Unplug! Do what specifically brings you joy… even if it doesn’t get “likes” on Instagram!
- Exercise…. Hey remember when we used to run for hours outside playing games!?! Jumping on trampolines and playing “Skip-it” until our legs physically couldn’t do it anymore? Rollerskating in those Barbie brands wheels? Turns out that EXERCISE is one of the most effective fighters of depression, stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue. Get out those rainbow-prismed leggings, strap on some roller blades and get moving!
- Stop Getting Offended! – Ha! In all my years, I’ve never seen society’s skin any thinner than it is now. Interesting enough, those who tend to ruminate (cyclically focus on the thing that is causing unhappiness) and those who are easily angered by far have higher levels of overall stress that permeates across all areas of their lives. We all mess up. People can be insensitive. You can be too sensitive. Learn to forgive and move on with your life. Those who fixate on a problem will become consumed with it! Be like Steve Urkle; give a little shrug, ask, “Did I do that?”, laugh it off, move on, and be happy!
- Organize… Though I bemoaned having to return to school every fall, I secretly got excited to pick out all my Lisa Frank folders, SpaceSaver supply box and GelRoller pens. Being organized and planning ahead alleviates stress because it allows you to get ahead of your worries, versus them indistinctly floating around and clouding your head. I can’t find Lisa Frank anymore, but my colorful Erin Condren Life Planner is my adult substitute to colorful calendar coordination.
- Eat Right and Vitamins…Our mom’s aren’t making us dinner every night anymore (hopefully!) and our vitamins are not in the shapes of our favorite StoneAge family (aww… Flintstone Fish Oil doesn’t have the same ring as a grownup). Watch what you put into your body. Though I’m a coffee addict, even large amounts of caffeine and sugar can induce anxiety. Check the glycemic index on even “healthy foods” as sugar can also aggravate feelings of stress and increase lethargy (so your stressed and unmotivated!) Calorie counting is the worst, but sometimes is necessary to get an accurate view of what we should be taking in to stay healthy. Know your BMR (how much you actually need to fuel your body at your specific age…). Though I’d love to power through a box of Zebra Cakes and Dunkaroos, my metabolism and needs are not what they used to be! Fuel your body for success.
- Sleep! Who knew that those bed times were actually good for us? As a kid, I used to sneak out of bed to watch ER stealthily from behind my parents on the couch (and promptly got sent back to bed). Again, unplug from those smart phones (the light and stimulation actually inhibit sleeps) and truly relax before bed! Wake up early and get ahead of your day… nothing is more stressful than getting off to a rough start…
- Strong Support System– If there is one thing I learned from 90s sitcoms, its that you need those friends. Whether in Cafe Nervosa or Central Perk, I love the lost art of getting together and talking in person! One aspect I appreciated about shows like Full House or Family Matters was the underlying themes of putting the priority of people before ourselves. Learning to be consistent is key to building enduring, real friendships!
- Taking on Obtainable Goals. I was not ready for the responsibility of a Tamagotchi when this digital pet came into my life. I have buried (okay rebooted) too many neglected Giga Pets to count because I was doing sports, school, and every other extracurricular to keep me out of trouble. Hopefully now we can manage our lives and duties a bit better. Mom isn’t making you sign up for piano lessons anymore. Learn the art of saying “No” to things that are just keeping you busy and not adding value…it’ll help you manage time and responsibilities. You can to anything, but not everything.
- Humorous Distractions– This is by far my favorite piece of advice I found regarding stress management! I found several studies that say that the best way to alleviate your stress is to take a temporary break of intention distraction. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. This girls is looking forward to the reboots of my 1990s classics, like Girl Meets World and Fuller House! In the midst of work and Grad School, I fully intend to soak up the humor of my childhood! Sometimes you need to youtube a M.C. Hammer routine and dance around in your living room in your rainbow leggings. Play a game of M.A.S.H. now that your in the real world! Take a break to laugh!
- Holding to Values- If only we had a Mr. Feeny in our lives as adults! He was that teacher full of wisdom and candor who told you what you needed to hear, not always what was pleasing to your ears. Holding true to your values will actually lift the stress of having to work towards other’s goals and expectations. Looking back on your childhood, you can name at least a few toys or trends you latched onto, not because you really liked it, but because your peers valued it (I have a duffle bag of Beanie Babies to prove it)!
Cut it out! In adulthood, we are still tempted to be swept away by the priorities of others. Elementary classrooms were the piazza of priced toys in the past, but now social media has created a new forum of peer comparison. If I could tell 9-year-old Kenzie one thing, I would tell her to be confident in who her worth and value come from. It is incredibly stressful following the fluid priorities of those around you, whether it’s simply trends or issues of morality. Having your identity firmly planted in Christ takes away the guessing game of who you are and how you should live your life.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
No matter what stage you are in, “Grown-Up Life” is stressful. Our legacy is formed in how we act in the face of new challenges. May your life be a little more kid like and relaxed this week!
Let’s Make Millennials Great Again 😉
P.S. … Some of my favorite things, from Gel Pens to Jelly Shoes!