Nothing feels better than checking items off your to do list. But, nothing feels worse than watching the list grow longer with every item you cross out. I’ve been reminded of this lately as Jeremy and I head into a busy Fall season. 

Sidenote: If it actually felt like Fall outside, maybe I wouldn’t be so stressed!

In the next few months, we’ll navigate through several events and obligations, and every time I start to feel like I’ve organized things well enough to make the daunting task list more manageable, something else pops up  — kinda like that old arcade game, whack-a-mole. Except, my blood pressure rises with every “whack.”

In times like these, I rely heavily upon some wise advice I received years ago: Take a deep breath, pause for a minute and then dive into the next task. 

These days my breathing exercises sound more like huffing and puffing. Jeremy huffs and puffs a lot, too. Hand us a train whistle and we’d give “The Little Engine That Could” some real competition.

One night Jeremy had another piece of wise advice. At least, he thought it was wise. 

Poor man. 

“If we just keep a right attitude and our heads straight, we’ll be fine,” he said. 

I thought of several choice retorts. None of which I said out loud because of course, they would not have been said with a right attitude of any sort.

All joking aside, taking a deep breath when feeling overwhelmed does help. If that doesn’t work, slap a bright smile on your face. Pretending to be ok often helps you convince yourself that you actually are (or will be) just fine. 

I’ve also found reminding myself of all I’m thankful for helps relieve stress. It’s a great trick for preserving a marriage too  — especially when your spouse tells you to get your head straight! 

Yes, I reminded myself of the many reasons why I love my husband and how thankful I am for all the things he does. Then, my urge to knock ‘em upside the head for telling me to “keep my head straight” subsided a good deal.

As bizarre as it may seem, exercise also helps reduce stress. Who wants to exert more energy on unnecessary tasks like running a mile or two when stress and cares of life have already worn you down? 

Try it!

A good cardio workout can actually boost your energy levels, clear your head, and strengthen your decision making processes. If all of that holds true, I should be in the best shape of my life come November!

While it pains me to admit it, Jeremy’s advice was sage. Hopefully, some of my stress relieving tricks will help me keep my head straight through the end of the year. I know they’ll help keep his head intact, too.

• Sarah Tarr Gove is news editor of The Blackshear Times. Email her at sgove@theblacksheartimes.com.