Early in my tippy toe process, I realized that I was carrying a whole lot of weight that couldn’t be measured in pounds. Simply put, it was the weight of the world–heavy on my shoulders, wearing on my soul–and was a direct result of stress. Or rather, my inability to manage my way through some stressful situations. It just kept piling up as the pounds piled on. (I only noticed the pounds.)
When I read that stress has a negative effect on weight, I resolved to incorporate stress management into my overall life changes. The results were amazing! As I began to learn new ways of handling stressful situations, I could almost feel the world-weary weight dropping from my shoulders to the ground around me. I hadn’t even known it was there, but I could definitely feel its absence. My posture improved and I practically bounced when I walked. I had life energy I hadn’t realized I was missing.
Should you find yourself in need of shedding some stress pounds, here are a few of my strategies for dealing with life’s stressful situations:
1. Take a time-out, even if it’s only a few minutes. Find a quiet place and focus on breathing.
2. Take a walk. Or a jog or a bike ride. Work through some yoga postures or basic stretches. Exercise releases a hefty dose of feel-good endorphins. (In the interest of balanced reporting, I’ll mention that you could eat a package of Oreos for an endorphin rush, but that’s going to have some aftereffects that will likely create more stress. Just sayin’.)
3. Laugh. A lot. When the temporary boost to your heart rate and blood pressure subsides, you’ll be all loosey-goosey.
4. Listen to soothing music. I like The Black-eyed Peas as much as anybody, but they have their place. In stressful times, I know that slower-paced music will help lower my heart rate and blood pressure and allow me to breathe more easily. (Personal fav: Pachelbel’s Canon in D. It calms me…and then fills me with quiet energy.)
5. Light a candle. Scents such as lavender and vanilla are quite soothing. My current “trick” is to heat my oven to 250° and place a foil muffin cup with a half teaspoon or so of vanilla extract on the rack, turn the oven OFF, and then let the residual heat spread the calming joy.
6. Talk it out…or write it out. Sometimes the simple act of saying or writing the reason(s) for your stress is all that’s needed to release some pressure. Other times, a new perspective emerges that helps shift you from the negative path.
7. Help someone else. Whether it’s giving a neighbor a hand with gardening chores (bonus stress buster: exercise!) or simply listening to an elderly person talk about the good ol’ days, it’s hard to feel stressed-out when you’re helping someone else.
I wish I could tell you I now walk around in a state of blissful contentment every waking hour, but I don’t. I am, as it turns out, human, and I do still have my moments. (Had one yesterday, in fact, and it wasn’t pretty.) The awesome thing is that managing stress becomes a habit, just like eating vegetables and exercising, and now I notice when it’s moved from being an isolated omission to something heavy and needy of correction. That’s when I do one or more of the actions I listed above and before you know it, I’m back in my happy place and the weight is gone.
Questions o’the day: Are you a stress-eater or does it turn your appetite completely off? (I’ve experienced both, but usually the former. :)) Or have you already developed your own methods for working through life’s stresses? Share? Please?