Let’s Talk with Lois Winston

Stress
By Lois Winston

We all have stress, some of us more than others, and we all deal with it in different ways—or not. Authors seem particularly susceptible to stress, especially those who don’t have an income from a day job because money is one of the major stressors in most people’s lives. We have no paid benefits, and we’re completely dependent on our readers for our income. If our books don’t sell well, we don’t make much money. In addition, authors who are traditionally published and don’t sell well run the risk of having their contracts cancelled or not being offered a new contract.

Couple that with the stresses of daily life—illnesses, deaths, divorce, natural disasters, family finances, job loss, appliances and vehicles that die (always at the most inconvenient times!), etc.—is it any wonder we’re all overstressed?

So what’s stressing me lately? Like every other insecure author, I worry about sales. Will people buy my newest book? Will they like it? Will they post good reviews?

Of course, the last thing anyone needs is additional stress. For most of us, life is stressful enough. Recently I came across a list of ways to de-stress and thought I’d share some of them with our Booklover’s Bench readers because no matter who you are (with the possible exception of the Dali Lama), you’re probably stressed about something.

1. Have a designated space you can go to unwind, preferably one with a comfortable chair, a door you can close to keep out the world, and your favorite music.

2. Rest your mind by creating a specific ritual for letting go of stress at the end of the day. Spend twenty minutes doing yoga or meditating. Take a bubble bath. Read a chapter in a book. Work a crossword or jigsaw puzzle. Enjoying an evening glass of wine (especially paired with a piece of dark chocolate) or a cup of chamomile tea.

3. Change of any kind is stressful. If you have to make a major change in your life, try to postpone it until you’re less stressed.

4. Refrain from stress eating. (Easier said than done, I know, and counter to the wine and chocolate suggestion in #2). When you do eat, make sure you’re eating healthfully—lots of fruits and veggies, no junk.

5. Indulge in some self-care such as getting a massage or facial.

6. Stop doing everything; start delegating tasks. Even really young kids can make their own beds, clear the dinner table, and sweep up crumbs from the kitchen floor.

7. Stop multitasking. Women are notorious multitaskers. Most men only do one thing at a time, but we’re notorious for juggling seventeen things at once. And don’t use the excuse that if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. Refer to #6. Besides, what if “it” doesn’t get done at that moment? The world won’t come to an end if you wait an extra day or two to clean the house.

8. Move! It’s not good to sit at your computer for hours at a time. Get up and move around every twenty to thirty minutes, even if it’s only to walk around your house. Exercise is not only good for your body; it’s good for your brain. If you have to be on the phone, walk while talking.

9. Socialize more. We writers are notorious for holing ourselves up in our writer caves. Schedule some time each week to meet a friend for a walk, a cup of coffee, or a lunch date.

10. Finally, don’t keep your stress bottled up inside you. Talk to your spouse (or a trusted friend or relative if it’s the spouse who’s stressing you out. We’ve all been there, right ladies?) Sometimes just voicing your worries helps you discover a solution to your problems or a better way to handle them.

Do you have any specific ways you handle stress?

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Comments

  1. I’m all about lists, getting out and walking or weeding or raking, and playing with the dog. I’m trying to cut back on stress snacking as well as the kind of snacking I’m prone to do when I’m scrounging around in my brain for just the right simile. A cheesy snack always seems to get the brain in gear.

    • authorlois says

      Carolyn, I know what you mean about stress snacking. For me it’s salty carbs like pretzels. Takes an awful lot of self-control not to give in to the urge.

  2. Making lists helps me feel more in control. Then I only need to work on one item at a time for a task that may seem overwhelming. At the end of the day, I read to relax my mind.

  3. To delegate is a struggle. I love the list!
    Thank you.

    • authorlois says

      Linda, I think that’s something many women struggle with. You’re not alone. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Thanks for the great advice!

  5. Lately I’ve been walking it off. Now that we’ve moved downtown, I have the whole city at my feet for relieving the stresses of life. I work out nasty plot problems and the ordinary “what’s for supper” issues in one lovely stroll. Heaven!

    • authorlois says

      Cheryl, ever since I got a Fitbit several years ago, I’ve become an obsessive walker. I was amazed at how sedentary I was during an average day. Now I do 4-6 miles a day, usually in half-hour increments on the treadmill when the weather isn’t conducive to longer outdoor walks. Good for the heart and for clearing brain cobwebs and working through those times when I write myself into a corner.

  6. maggietoussaint says

    I love this list, Lois! I have specific things I do to start and finish each day. It’s the rest of the day that gets all knotted up. Remembering to get up and to move is something I tend to postpone because there’s always so much to do as an author! This year the holidays were refreshing. We cut back on travel and enjoyed gathering with friends and family. Taking that time away from the “grind” even when we love the grind, is important. I mastered the first day of 2020. Here’s hoping the rest of them are as easy to navigate. Happy New Year, everyone!

    • authorlois says

      One down, only 365 to go, Maggie. (It’s a Leap Year). One thing I do to move more is to walk around the house whenever I have to make or take a phone call. It’s amazing how many steps you can get in while doing so.

  7. Socialize more is my favorite suggestion. Going to my chapter’s Sisters in Crime meeting on Saturday, going to meet with some old friends for lunch on Monday, and visit with another old friend on Thursday who is getting ready to go on a year long trip to the British Isles.

    • authorlois says

      I think I could really learn to relax and destress if I had the chance to spend a year visiting the British Isles. Your friend is definitely lucky, Marilyn! But I agree with you. Spending time with other writers (people who GET us) really helps. And for those of us who spend all our time chained to our computers, lunch with friends is always a nice break. I’m doing one of those in a few hours.

  8. Lois, good suggestions, all. Particularly #8 — an hour outside spent pruning and weeding and hauling stuff to the curb does wonders for the brain (though it helps if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where the weather is nice year-round). And definitely #10. 🙂

  9. authorlois says

    That sounds like a great way of dealing with stress, Debra. Sounds like you’ve mastered the art of not getting overwhelmed.

  10. I handle it one step at a time… and don’t realize how stressed I was until I relax.