I was in tears the other day, frustrated with myself for “not getting it together” over something pretty trivial, when I realized: This is not like me. What in the world is really wrong? I thought back to what I’ve been doing the last couple of months: There was the marathon (fun, but still, a toil on my mind and body), a looming deadline at work, a family member who is battling illness, and so on.
Life definitely isn’t always easy, but the longer I strive towards wellness, the more my former stress-reducing habits just don’t cut it anymore. Particularly, what I eat when I’m stressed. Sure, I think most of us have the occasional stress cookie, which isn’t that big of a deal to me. What does bother me, though, is that I sometimes get stressed out and decide I’m too busy, too tired, or too inexperienced to cook or find healthy foods. So then I just pack up and go through a drive through. Fast food doesn’t even taste like food to me anymore…it all just tastes the same. So why I continue to use it as my fallback eating plan really baffles me. It’s probably because I’ve bought into the “too busy, too tired, too inexperienced” mantra. But then I remind myself of all the other things I managed to accomplish even when I thought I was “too busy, too tired, too much of a rookie.”
Oops. Now I really am out of excuses. I also think I forget there are other ways to unwind from stress, as opposed to cookies or drive through lines. Here’s my list, as a reminder to myself:
- Go for a walk. When I’m under tremendous stress, I sometimes think I can’t run, or that I won’t run well. But walking is always an option.
- Go for an easy pool swim. The noise of the water and the solid black line at the bottom of the pool calms me down.
- Write in my journal. Sometimes a quick “Dear me, You’re fine. Love, me” note reminds me to carry on.
- Make a list of what I wish I was doing. When I’m feeling weighted down with tasks that aren’t any fun, I spend a few minutes dreaming and listing anything I want to try or that sounds like fun. If an item appears on my dream list more than once, I usually make plans to try it or do it when I have more free time and am under less stress. Doing this gives me something to look forward to, and it is an easy way to bribe myself into doing the less-than-fun tasks.
- Write a grateful list. I live a very privileged life;reminding myself of all the goodness and beauty around me can instantly change my perspective.
- Spend time meditating/praying. Sometimes I just need to be still and to listen to God.
Nothing I’m going through is really that difficult, but all together, it can seem overwhelming. When you’re faced with a similar situation, what healthy ways have you found to stomp out stress?