Ever feel like you have so much piled up on your plate that you don’t know how you’ll possibly be able to do it all?
Lately it’s been a lot with the company, getting ready for Baby D, getting things fixed and cleaned around the house, making time to see family and friends, scheduling meetings and events, exercising the pup and finding time to take the best care of myself possible (for baby, of course!). Although many of these to-dos are fun and exciting, it doesn’t mean they don’t raise my stress levels.
That’s why breakfast dates with Hubbs are one of my favorite traditions. We go to a local place to grab coffee (decaf, for me!) and omelets, hash browns and fruit. We pick on the slow service, but enjoy our leisurely breakfast while writing out our to do lists, budgets and discussing our calendar for the next couple months. It may sound like a business meeting, but I treasure these morning meetings and always leave feeling more relaxed. Something about spending time with Hubbs and organizing life make me calm and happy.
How do you handle stress?
You can eat well, exercise often and try to get enough sleep, but if you are continually stressed out, being able to maintain a healthy weight and state of mind will be difficult for you. (And most likely, if you are stressed, you probably aren’t eating as well, exercising as much or sleeping enough anyways). Stress eating, anyone?
Stress affects your hormone levels, which in turn control your appetite, and everything else in your body. It also affects people in different ways. Some people may not be able to eat anything, or forget to eat when stress levels are up, while others may not be able to stop eating. Both extremes are detrimental to your healthy living goals.
Under high stress, your sleep will suffer, resulting in lower energy levels throughout the day, which will lead to lack of exercise, and craving more high-carbohydrate, calorie dense foods. Your body is also more likely to store fat around your middle, known as visceral fat, which is the most dangerous place to store fat since it has been linked to increase risk of diabetes and heart disease. It is a slippery slope that can be challenging to overcome, so it is best to nip it in the bud when you begin to feel your stress level rising. Here are some good tips to help control your anxiety:
- Begin to notice symptoms of being overly stressed: muscle tension, clenched jaw, breaking out, irritability, restless sleep, lack of energy, apathy, digestive problem, etc.
- Make yourself a priority and utilize some relaxation techniques: try yoga, meditation, deep breathing, a hot bath, walking, journaling, talk to a good friend, etc. It is not selfish for you to have some time to yourself. It is an essential part to healthy living, and you will be better at everything else you do if you take care of yourself first.
- Get moving. Walk, run, bike, skip, jump rope, swim, do jumping jacks. Not only will exercise burn calories, it will lower your stress levels and release endorphins that will lift your spirits. If you aren’t feeling up to it, do it anyways. Commit yourself to moving around for 10 minutes. If you still want to quit after 10 minutes, then do so, but most likely you will find that once you get moving, it feels great and you will continue longer than the initial 10 minutes.
- Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Keep track of when you are eating and do not allow more than 3-4 hours to go by without eating something.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. These have been shown to cause cortisol levels to rise (the hormone that results in increased stress and weight gain).
- Take a multi-vitamin. Making sure you are getting a sufficient amount of essential nutrients can help keep energy levels up and stress levels down.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Make sure the carbohydrates you are eating are high-quality whole grains that are high in fiber. This will help keep blood sugars steady and your energy level up.
- Ask for help. Learn how to recognize if you have too much on your plate. Prioritize your “to do” list and ask for help on the things on the list that you can’t get to. Being organized will help you feel more in control.
What’s your best stress-busting technique?
The good news? It’s FRIDAY! And that ought to lower all of our stress levels 🙂