I don’t know about you, but I could really use a break from all of my worries, and binge-eating chocolate chips doesn’t seem to be the answer.

When I get stressed out, I try to focus on my rule of three: What’s best for my health is usually also the best choice for my budget and the environment. That sounds simplistic, but it works. Recently, when I was wide awake at midnight, I used that rule of three to brainstorm ways to make the following day better. Guess what? My ideas worked. So the next time stress weighs you down, give these tips a try.

Go for an easy walk. Get outside and clear your head. Pacific Northwest autumns dazzle the senses. Big-leaf maples transform into colorful masterpieces. Boots crunch leaves as you stroll along the road. A brisk afternoon walk will pick up your spirits better than scrolling through social media. A short walk might be just enough to turn your whole mood around.

Savor sweater weather. November is the time to dig old sweaters out of bottom drawers, and puffer vests from the back closets. It’s when we put our heaviest quilts on beds and lay knitted afghans over the family room couch. The best thing in the whole world is a pair of wool socks. Your favorite fleece jacket is snuggly, and this is the perfect season to wear it.

Embrace simple pleasures. Make your bed in the morning so you feel accomplished. Pour yourself a cup of coffee. Bite into a fresh, juicy apple. Sprinkle a few drops of vanilla extract on a cotton ball and place it on the furnace vent so your whole house smells delicious. Turn on your favorite music when you load the dishwasher.

Cook something in the Crock-Pot. There’s nothing like the aroma of beef stew flavoring the house with the rich scent of onions and garlic. Slow cookers love you. Crock-Pots help. Instant-Pots come to the rescue when you are pressed for time. A basic stew recipe that won’t fail is: 1 pound beef chunks, ½ pound chopped carrots, 1 bunch chopped celery, 2 onions cut into bite-size pieces, 4 cloves diced garlic, ¼ cup red wine, ½ tablespoon salt and 4 cups beef broth. Cook on low for 8-10 hours and dinner will delight, especially with a slice of fresh bread on the side.

Pick up the phone. Spending time with family and friends is something to cherish. But we don’t need to be breathing next to each other in the same room to be together. Call someone on the phone or visit over Zoom. Reach out to the people you love. Conversation with another human being can lift your spirits.

The year 2020 is almost over and next year will hopefully be better. But in the meantime, today can still be a great day to have a great day. Go forth and make it awesome!

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at [email protected]


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