How to Keep Cool When Life Heats Up: Part 5 – Creating a Plan (Summer Series)

Heads Up, Mama!

On May 25, 2021, I explained that for the duration of my kids’ summer break from school, I’ll be releasing a series of posts called, “How to Keep Cool When Life Heats Up.” If you missed that post or just need a refresher on what this series is about, you can read it here.

Mama, I can’t believe the summer is already coming to an end! I know this post is a little later than expected, so thank you for being patient with me. I practice what I preach and I needed more time to get this one out to you, but I hope it was worth the wait.

In today’s post, part 5 of this summer series, I’ll first review the previous posts (in case you missed them). Then, I’ll help you use what you’ve learned so far to create a plan moving forward.

You’ll need at least a pen and paper, but if you have a notebook or planner, you can use that for this exercise, too. What you’ll put together today isn’t a daily agenda, but more of a plan for what you’d like your days to look like. Consider this a blueprint for you to reference for the season of life you’re in.

Whenever your season changes, and you find yourself facing new challenges, you can (and should) create a new blueprint. Your blueprint will help you keep your values and priorities front and center so that you can better schedule and manage your days.

But before I dive into helping you create a plan – your blueprint – I first want to briefly review what I covered in the rest of this “How to Keep Calm When Life Heats Up” series. My hope is that going over the main points will refresh your mind and help you use what I talked about in previous posts to help you create a better plan.

Planning with the Right Mindset

In part 1 of this series, I explained the three-step process I use to shift my mindset as my foundation for creating a calmer life. To recap, those steps were:

  1. Monitor your thoughts
  2. Don’t judge your thoughts
  3. Don’t change your thoughts, redirect them

As we work on creating your plan today, keep in mind that we aren’t creating a blueprint to turn you into a super mom, productivity queen. Striving to create a life where you check everything off your to-do list is not conducive to a life of peace and calm.

Striving to create a life where you check everything off your to-do list is not conducive to a life of peace and calm.

You are going to have days where you don’t feel like anything is going right. Give yourself grace and use redirection to help you calm down when life feels overwhelming. One day at a time, mama. You can do this.

Planning for Self-care

In part 2 of this series, I shared three self-care strategies you can use to help you cool down and remain calm. I talked about honoring your body’s cycles, doing less, and creating a sane space.

When working on your blueprint today, be mindful of your menstrual cycle phases. Here is a quick review of how to break down the four phases so you can plan your days around them:

  • Menstruation Phase (Reflection & Rest) – day 1 of your period (duration 3-7 days)
  • Follicular Phase (Problem Solving & New Ideas) – follows menstruation (duration 7-10 days)
  • Ovulatory Phase (Communication) – follows ovulatory (duration 3-5 days)
  • Luteal Phase – (Deep Cleaning & Finishing Projects) final phase before menstruation (duration 10-14 days)

Knowing where you fall in your cycle will help you plan what sorts of tasks you’ll aim to complete in the near future. This is an approach called cycle syncing. It’s very different than just making a to-do list and just randomly picking and crossing things off. (More about this later, but if you want a deep dive into this topic, I highly recommend the book “In the Flo” by Alisa Vitti*.)

*This link is an Amazon affiliate link.

I also expect that by now you’ve embraced doing less. And that you’ve created a sane space for yourself. (A friend of mine turned her shed into her office. She likes to go in there and hide from her kids. I’m so jealous.)

If you’re completely lost right now and wonder what our periods have to do with doing less and sane spaces, please revisit part 2.

If you take all of these strategies into consideration, you’ll be able to move forward and create a plan that honors your body (assigning tasks to the right phase), encourages you to do less (leaving white space on your schedule), and incorporates ways you can enjoy your sane space (prioritizing me time to fill your cup).

Planning to Nourish Your Mind & Body

In part 3 of this series, I briefly explained how stress affects your mind and body. I also shared ways that I nourish my body during seasons of high stress.

As you create your blueprint today, keep these things in mind because you don’t want to neglect your body. You’ll want to make sure you are incorporating nourishing strategies or else you’ll run the risk of overdoing it and you’ll end up feeling more stressed than you should.

Take it from another mama who knows – there are real mental health consequences for neglecting your health during times of high stress.

There are real mental health consequences for neglecting your health during times of high stress.

To start, just pick one or two things I listed in part 3 to nourish yourself and commit to doing them consistently.

Planning through Reflection

In part 4, I guided you through my 5 step process for reflecting on my life during stressful times.

In that post, you should have made a list of what’s working and what’s not, reviewed each list to identify how they apply to our current season, identified the parts of your life that are non-negotiable, and you figured out what you could prune, eliminate, or delegate. (If not, you can read that post here.)

Creating Your Blueprint

Okay, now that I’ve quickly reviewed everything I’ve covered so far in this series, let’s start working on your blueprint, your plan for making it through a stressful season.

You can create your blueprint however you see fit. If you want to create a weekly blueprint, where you list out your schedule for each weekday and then fit around it your self-care and other priorities, that’s great!

You could also create an ideal daily blueprint, where you list out all the things you want/need to do every single day. This would include things like daily habits, rituals, and tasks.

Or you can create a monthly blueprint using your menstrual phases as a guideline, listing out what you’ll do depending on which phase you’re in. I highly recommend downloading the My Flo app which will help you to know which phase you are in (the app will also notify you as you move through to a new phase).

Any of these blueprints will work great because no matter which one you choose to set up, you’ll feel more at ease and more in control of your life – which will help you feel less stressed.

And, of course, creating a blueprint is something that you can do at any time of the year, no matter if you’re feeling stressed. Using a blueprint as a guild can help you no matter what season of life you are in because you can tweak it at any point in time.

Using a blueprint as a guild can help you no matter what season of life you are in because you can tweak it at any point in time.

Remember, these are just guideline blueprints, something to help you reference when you are planning or moving throughout your days.

Keep them in a place where you can easily access them, such as a notebook, planner, or even stuck to your fridge with a magnet. Having it handy will help remind you that you’ve already done the thinking ahead of time, that you’ve already created a plan. I find it extremely important during stressful times to have some sort of guideline to follow so that I can preserve my energy for important things.

Okay, now I’ll briefly walk you through creating each type of blueprint.

Weekly Blueprint

No matter if you are using an actual planner, notebook, or blank piece of paper, start by making sure you have space for each day of the week. Then, think back to the exercises you completed in part 4. Start with your non-negotiable tasks/schedule. For example, if one of your priorities is to go to the gym for a class that takes place at a set time each week, go ahead and fill that information in the appropriate day.

Think about the chores you complete on a weekly basis – do you have designated days for them? If not, I highly recommend setting a plan for them because it will help you to get them done without really thinking about them. For me, I dust on Mondays, wash bedding on Tuesdays, water the plants on Wednesdays, wash all the clothes on Thursdays, and I clean my bathroom on Fridays.

Will you always follow your weekly blueprint? No. There will be events that come up that require you to move things around, but the idea is that you have a loose plan in the place for how you’re week will look. This way, when you are making appointments, you can take your plan into consideration. Perhaps you want to designate a specific day of the week for appointments because those days work best for you. Or a specific day to go to the grocery store.

It seems like it won’t help, but trust me. Your brain likes structure and routine and if you decide once (one of the Lazy Genius principles) to do a certain task on a set day or at a set time, then your brain doesn’t have to decide over and over again when you’ll do the laundry, or when you’ll wash the bedsheets.

The idea is to make this season of life less stressful and preplanning things that you have to do regularly will make a big difference. If you have to skip a week because of a stressful day, you know that you’ll just get to it the following week. I don’t know about you, but as long as my laundry doesn’t pile up, my life feels a little bit more in my control.

Daily Blueprint

To create your daily blueprint, you don’t have to structure it in a chronological way (morning, afternoon, evening). However, listing it out that way might help you identify pockets of time.

Again, remembering that our brain likes structure and routine, create a daily blueprint that allows you to decide once what you’ll do and then let your days run on autopilot.

When you were working on the exercises in part 4, what did you identify as “not working?”

For example, is waking up early not working? Identify why that is.

  • Is it because you aren’t going to bed early enough?
  • What’s happening before bedtime that is causing you to stay up late?
  • Are you scrolling social media?
  • Are you catching up on chores?
  • Binge-watching shows?

What can you do differently in the evening to help make your morning better? You might have to create a new habit to replace one that isn’t working.

Remember, creating a daily blueprint is just a way to help you visually see everything you have to do. If you list it all out and it feels overwhelming, take a step back. Perhaps you didn’t prune or eliminate enough when you were working on part 4.

Be sure to include your daily self-care habits that you already do or would like to do. (However, I don’t recommend that you start more than one new habit at a time so that you can give yourself time for one habit to stick before adding a new one.)

Menstrual Cycle Blueprint

When life is stressful for me, I typically “do less” and scale back and do as bare-bones as possible. That’s why I like the cycle syncing approach because it allows me to do just that. If you’re interested in trying it out, in this section I’ll help you create a plan using your menstrual cycle as your guide.

Because we all have household chores to do, I think that’s a good place to start. When life gets stressful, having a plan for your chores will be extremely helpful so that you don’t have to think about it.

According to Alisa Vitti, the best time for us to do deep cleaning tasks is during our luteal phase. That’s the phase before our menstrual cycle.

If you’ve ever noticed you have a tendency to want to clean more right before your period, it’s because it’s part of your body’s hard wiring. We have a natural tendency to “nest” and clean before our period.

It’s our body’s way of preparing for a period of rest and probably a more primal instinct to protect our home. I’ve been scheduling tasks like scrubbing the showers, mopping, washing windows to happen during my luteal phase for several months now.

The reason you should plan to deep clean during your luteal phase is you’ll find that you’ll have less desire and energy to do those tasks if you try and do it any other time during your cycle – especially if you’re under a lot of stress.

The idea when you’re stressed is to make life as easy as possible. And your luteal phase is the perfect time to get things done.

In addition to deep cleaning, during your luteal phase, you’ll find yourself wanting to tackle unfinished things that you’ve probably been procrastinating. During my luteal phase, I find myself wanting to tackle things on my to-do list that I didn’t want to do sooner.

With this in mind, know that it’s okay if you spend the entire month not doing anything on your to-do list until you reach your luteal phase. During stressful times, you’re preserving the little energy you have.

So don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself lacking the motivation to be productive every day. Rest is productive. You don’t have to do, do, do every day.

Rest is productive. You don’t have to do, do, do every day.

Identify those tasks that you’d like to do during your next luteal phase. If you have a planner, use page flags to write out those tasks so that you can easily move them from month to month. Use the MyFlo app to help you track which phase of your cycle you are in and for more tips on how to cycle sync.

And remember: Honor this stressful season and give yourself permission to wait until your luteal phase to get things done.

If you want to dive deeper and plan out the rest of your month based on your phases, use this as a general guide:

  • Menstrual phase – best for rest, journaling monthly reflections, evaluating, yin yoga
  • Follicular phase – best for new ideas, brainstorming, starting new projects
  • Ovulatory phase – best for making phone calls, playdates, appointments, being social
  • Luteal phase – best for deep cleaning, finishing up projects and incomplete tasks

Again, I highly recommend Alisa’s book, In the Flo* for a more in-depth look into cycle syncing.

*This link is an Amazon affiliate link.

Final Thoughts

Today’s post was all about helping you create a plan for when life gets stressful. No matter which approach you take (weekly, daily, or menstrual), I hope that you find creating a blueprint to be extremely helpful when you are facing stressful times.

Remember, this isn’t the season to start new projects or to create lofty goals. When you’re under a lot of stress, your only priority should be to take care of yourself. Yes, you have kids and you have to take care of their needs, too. However, neglecting to take care of yourself will in effect harm them, so please be sure to incorporate self-care practices into your days.

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me on Instagram by sending me a DM.

This concludes the “How to Keep Cool When Life Heats Up” series! I hope that you found this series to be helpful to you during this stressful time in your life. Be sure to bookmark it and come back to it whenever you need a refresh.

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