Sometimes things are just out of your control. like when your flight gets pushed back or rescheduled. This is what happened to me this past summer. I was on my way to Minnesota and needed to get there by 5:30pm. My flight got pushed back 3 times and I ended up getting in around 9:00pm. This was frustrating as I missed an important meeting I was going to attend. It ended up worse for my friend. Her flight got pushed back when she was in the airport and had to wait until 10pm to get her connecting flight, which got pushed back until the next day. It wasn’t worth her time to come at that point, so she got a flight back home. Or how about last week. I was planning on taking my kids to the zoo. We all got buckled in, and the car wouldn’t start. There was no sign whatsoever that a door was left ajar or a light on. How about when your at a place where silence is requested and your toddler is about as loud as a jet plane. How about getting an unexpected bill or nasty letter in the mail? Moments like this can be frustrating and are definitely out of your control. How do you handle these moments? How do you deal with the stress of it all? Does your body go into fight or flight or can you remain calm? If calm, what are you doing to bring your body into calm? Consider these questions as I dive deeper into dealing and managing stress levels in a healthy way. Sit back, take a deep breath and relax. Read on!
I want to quickly address that stress certainly leads to eating and overeating in general. It affects our behaviors around food and what and how much we eat. It creates the perfect scenario for fat storage and promotes obesity.
Have you ever noticed what kinds of foods you crave when you’re stressed? Typically, pastas, cookies, cakes and sweets are hyper-palatable meaning they taste so good to you. Your body releases dopamine causing you to have that “feel-good” feeling which actually works and helps you to relax from that stress. You don’t want to reach for celery and asparagus when your 😫 Stressed. Ultimately eating garbage leads you into this vicious cycle of guilt and negative self talk which you hope will change your eating behavior the next time. But it doesn’t because your behaviors are exactly the same the next day. Something has to change. Stress will always be in our lives and we need to understand how to manage it properly so we don’t fall into poor habits that lead to guilt and regret later on.
1. The very first thing I would do is take you off caffeine and teach you how to breathe!! caffeine does a number on our nervous system. Also, we tend to suck in our stomachs and rarely get that deep diaphragm breathing going on. Try this breathing pattern…breathe in through the nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, exhale through the mouth for 8 counts. The body immediately begins to relax. I do this technique at stop lights, when kids are annoying me, when unexpected circumstances happen liked mentioned above, or anything at all. We really need to tap into that deep breath work every single day.
2. Develop a weekly practice of Yoga or Thai Chi. When you give your body this gift of breathing combined with gentle motion and stretching, something magical happens. I recently heard a story of a marathon runner who was eating perfectly but gained weight after running a marathon. She should have been a stick figure if we look at calories in/calories out theory. But she gained weight. On the other hand, another lady described how her clothing got looser as she began a Thai Chi practice. How is this possible? A marathon runner puts more stress on his/her body. The Thai Chi practice helped with movement and mental clarity. It could’ve been that the person doing Thai Chi was sedentary before they began this practice. Either way, I recommend developing a calming meditative practice. Plus I hear it helps with fertility in men and women!
3. Organize your office and living space to be clutter free. It’s amazing what happens when you simplify your home. I heard this brilliant quote the other day. “A clean home leads to better financial decisions. The two are definitely connected”. I had to ponder this for a bit. I believe it’s true. When we de-clutter and clean our home, we just feel good. It cleans our minds too. We’re able to make better decisions. If you’re stressed over finances, I would definitely try this out!
4. Plan your schedule using a daily or weekly planner. I could go on and on about my love for my planner. Yes, I use my iPhone calendar all the time, but there is something amazing about writing things down. I bought this planner on Amazon and its called “the Law of attraction planner”. But when I looked for it on Amazon just today, I couldn’t find it. Here is a similar one. And you MUST use THESE pens! They are my favorite. They’re erasable and the ink disappears in the heat. So you can microwave your day planner when the year is over and use it again. Crazy huh?
5. Quickly distract yourself. Just as if you were to see a bad image that you didn’t intend to see, you would want to look away as quickly as you can. The longer you allow your eyes to look at the image, the more troublesome and burned into your brain it can be. The same is true for stress. Your brain is like a 2 year old with a knife, running wild in that head of yours. Once you’re stressed about something, it’s all you can think about. Quickly “look away” or distract your brain rather, by thinking of something just as exciting and fun to you as the level of your stress. What excites you and makes you happy? Picture that. Feel it, breathe it in. This is a skill that must be developed so keep practicing.
6. Prioritize your tasks and focus on just one thing at a time! This is important when something stressful comes up. You need to zoom in and narrow your focus. You’re looking at the whole distance and how this will affect your future. Just zoom in a bit and think about how you can handle the stress this day, hour, minute etc. What do you need to do right now? Not tomorrow or in a week, but right now. Focus on that, and make it happen.
7. Delegate tasks whenever possible if you feel overwhelmed. You may have to speak up a bit for yourself if you need help. Put the kids on laundry duty or put it off…again! The most important thing is self care. Always ask yourself “Is this a job I need to be doing, or can someone else do it?” You need to take care of YOU before you can take care of others. You’ve already learned this every single time you fly on an airplane. Enough said!
8. Consider that what is happening right now, is meant to happen. If only each of us could see the big picture, oh how it would change us and our reactions! I want to circle back to that story about going to the zoo last week. I had to push my car out of the driveway so my neighbor could kindly jump start it (about 20 min worth of effort). Then I drove down to Walmart to have my battery tested which checked out fantastic. (Another 20 minutes of my time). I approached the freeway when my GPS came on and said “Car Accident…3 miles ahead”. I quickly recognized my morning dilemma as a blessing in disguise and thanked God for keeping me and my family safe. I don’t know if I could’ve been in that accident or not, but I’m glad someone had my back that day. Even if you get a letter stating you’re being sued comes your way…take a deep breath and consider it could possibly be for your good. It certainly doesn’t feel like it, but again…you can’t see the big picture right now. Just trust!
And I will quickly put a plug in for Magnesium! Many of us are magnesium defficient. When you feel stress, your magnesium levels get depleted. I learned from a podcast (a very passionate guy when it comes to magnesium) was saying that 80% of our metabolism is regulated by magnesium. I use a supplement called “Calm”. It’s magnesium in powdered form. Tastes like citrus. You just put it in water and drink it. It works. Helps you sleep and helps with your bowels. It’s called “the anti-stress drink”. Find it on Amazon or your local health food store. It’s everywhere.
This is worth repeating again:
Remember to always go back to the root cause. Determining how to alleviate stress can be difficult, but its impact on your health goes beyond your waistline and alleviating stress helps increase longevity, health, and happiness.
What do you do to alleviate stress in your life?
💗Health Coach Heather