Many things cause us to feel stress. It could be that promotion your boss has dangled over your head, contingent on performing well on your next big project. It could be that lingering divorce you are trying to get through. It could be the ninth time your young child belts out M-O-M! It could be fighting between your children. It could be demands from your husband to have the house clean and dinner on the table, when he arrives home. It could be dwindling finances and difficulty making ends meet. It could be that time of the month and it just might be trying to make care arrangements for your aging mother, who now depends on you, like you once depended on her.
As most of you know, stress can cause us to overeat when we least expect it. You might find yourself tiptoeing down to the icebox in the middle of the night, not because you are hungry, but because you are searching for something. Goodness knows you won’t find that special something in the fridge, but you will search away, putting everything in your mouth to determine for sure that it is not the thing that will quell your desire. Stress and over eating are undeniably linked. If you take the time throughout your day and throughout your week and on the weekends as well, to engage in stress reduction activities, you will reduce your need to overeat in response to stress. Self care is really important. If you don’t remember to engage in self care, no one will do it for you.
No matter where the stress comes from, it’s important for you to know how to deal with. Stress leads to high cortisol levels, which if prolonged creates damage your health. You can engage in mini breaks several times daily, you can have daily rituals, which help you decompress and some activities for stress reduction may have to take place over the weekend, when you have more time.
Never forget to take mini breaks throughout the course of your day. A mini break doesn’t take long, but can clearly shift the overall tone of your day. You might stop to pet your cat for 5 to 10 minutes. You might engage in some deep belly breathing every hour on the hour and you might get up and take a quick walk down the hall or down the street, if you can manage it. The change of scenery will do you a world of good. Taking in some fresh air and focusing on something new can give you the lift you need to move forward and break through that problem solving that you are currently in the midst of. Even though you are looking at something new, another part of your brain might still be working on the problem at hand and a solution might evolve, nearly out of thin air, owing to your new perspective.
If you work at home, you might take a quick utilitarian break. You might break to wash the dishes in the sink, or put a load of laundry in the washing machine. You might buzz up to the bank to pick up some extra cash, or deposit the checks that have collected. You might even take the dogs for a quick spin around the block. If you work out of the home, you can still take a utilitarian break to go to the post office, or make a few quick calls to schedule an appointment with the dentist or hairdresser.
Obviously, there are some more time consuming things you can do to reduce stress, like take a walk every morning, or every evening. You might head for the gym, after work, but before going home for the evening. You might schedule a weekly massage at home or at your masseuse’s location, and you might elect to play tennis with good friends. You might pack a lunch and go swimming on your lunch hour to get you ready for the rest of your work day.
Weekends are special. At least part of your weekend should be devoted to self care. You might hike in the woods or the mountains on the weekends. You might go skiing, or play paddle ball, or squash with a friend. You might go surfing or sailing. You might take in 9 holes of golf. You might stroll through a museum!
If these things aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps you like nothing more than heading to the store, purchasing great foods and going back home and cooking them up. Many people find cooking to be relaxing and fun.
Self care and stress reduction can be physical, but they don’t have to be. You might like to read mysteries or history books, or write poetry or pursue a creative endeavor. You might like jewelry making, pottery, needlepoint, even scrap booking. You might like playing the piano, the violin or the guitar. All of these things engage the mind, help to pass the time and provide pleasure. Some are solitary and others are done in groups. Of course, gathering with friends and family can be a great source of stress reduction. You choose the type of activity that makes the most sense for you. All of these are forms of stress reduction.
Take out a pice of paper or grab your tablet or phone and make a note regarding what type of mini break you engage in regularly and what type you want to commit to doing regularly as of today. Next think of what you do daily now and what you might like to start doing daily starting today. Finally, note how you take care of yourself on the weekends to create a sense of overall wellness. Next write down what types of activities would you like to build into your busy weekend schedule to reduce stress and promote wellness?
If you would like to work through these and have a coach to hold you accountable to your new commitments contact me and we can range a time to meet. Remember you are never to young to begin a self care routine.
I look forward to speaking with you soon!
Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC, BCC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
The Wellness Coach at Building Better Bodies Rocks
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights Ohio