By the time you read this post, I will have made it to Thursday. VERY excited about this because it means the weekend is upon us… and also because that means that I’ve made it through a week that’s been pretty tough.
I won’t bore you with the details, or whine about it… but it’s been STRESSFUL.
You’ve experienced weeks like this… we all have. The ones where you want to cry and sometimes you do. And, you just want to crawl into bed and never get out. STRESS!
Since I’ve changed my way of life two and a half years ago, I’ve noticed that I’ve had to find new ways to deal with stress. In the past, stress management meant blowing off steam with friends at a local Mexican restaurant while devouring a basket of chips and salsa… or maybe driving thru at Wendy’s for a combo. It also meant smoking (10 years ago now!) and drinking away my sorrows as well.
Mostly though, I would just eat. And, it would sort of make me numb to the experience.
Now, being numb doesn’t sounds that great… but when you’re in pain, sad, devastated… numbness can be comforting, while at the same time completely unhealthy and unproductive. This is something I picked up when I was a kid… it’s strange to think that a kid would figure out how to self-soothe with food, but I did. Maybe it’s that whole “Oh, you’re crying? Here’s a cookie” thing, but I don’t really remember much of that as a kid…
Until recently, I never realized how bad my eating habits had become in relation to stress eating or emotional eating… because the eating was so incredibly mindless. And interestingly, when the stress sets in even today, the first thing I crave is something ridiculously unhealthy, sometimes something sweet, and often times something that I would drench in ketchup.
So, how am I coping with stress now that I’m not turning to food?
First, I’m not turning to indulgent foods. That’s a big win in itself. Even though I think about stopping for a burger or Chick-fila or some other ridiculous “snack”, I skip it. I don’t let it happen because the way I feel afterward is just miserable… and numb.
I keep a pretty basic menu. This week is the perfect example. I’m pretty sure I keep my local Subway in business, but I’ve eaten Subway every night this week. Veggie Delite and those Baked Ruffles… that’s it. Now, it sounds strange to manage stress this way… but it’s filling, it’s within my calorie target, and when it’s gone, dinner is over.
When I’m stressed and I cook, I’m more likely to go for that second helping or to snack along the way. This way, it’s portion-controlled and something satisfying – - Thank goodness for Subway!
I go to the gym. While I’m not an incredibly religious person, I often find the gym to be an amazingly spiritual place for me… and I know it’s because my mind STOPS. It stops over-analyzing, rehashing, and trying to solve whatever is going on… and I just focus on trying to run for those 3 minutes or to follow the instructor in class. I find movies on the TV to watch and escape what’s going on. I can watch my Fitbit until it hits the 10,000 steps mark… and even if that’s the only thing good that happens all day, it’s something I achieved!
Whenever possible, I get on the mat. Yoga is one of those activities where you have to focus on your breath and focus on your poses… or you fall over. Another great way to get out of my head for an hour… and clear my thoughts. And, one of the most beautiful ways I can think of to do it.
Also, I sing. Yep, two days in a row… I’m telling you I like to sing and loudly. Note: I didn’t say I’m a talented singer, but I’ll belt it out in my car like I’m amazing… I usually pick powerful female artists like Kelly Clarkson (of course!), Miranda Lambert, Adele, or even some old Dixie Chicks… regardless, it’s songs I know by heart, and when I’m in the car… I swear I sound just like them.
Lastly, I watch my caffeine to make sure that I don’t effect my sleep. And, I find it helps me stay a tiny bit more calm.
These are just a few of the ways that I try to curb my stress when it pops up, but I’d love to hear how you healthily manage yours. I have to say, I’m still a work in progress.
What ideas can you share?