Let’s Talk with Lois Winston

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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