Desserts spelled backwards

So in the last few weeks, let's see what's been going on in my world. Weird sleep schedule (sleep late, oversleep, sleepy in the middle of the day) check; mindless activities - watching movies all day, constantly playing with my hair check; mindless eating usually prefaced by a little (ok big!) chocolate binge check, starting things, but never finishing check; feeling overwhelmed check; feeling unmotivated check; Fatigue check; Restlessness check; suddenly needing to do all the mundane tasks I've put off check (well, half check because I start and realize I have no interest). Uh-oh I think I am stressed out!

With deadlines approaching, projects looming, endless checklists, pending exams/tests, addition of new family members, planning weddings, planning anything and wanting to get this and that done, we're bound to feel stressed out from time to time. Some of us are in a perpetual state of stress and don't really know life any other way. We're often caught in the middle of work expectations, deadlines, family expectations and many things that just keep us in a constant state of ON. Our ability to deal with our stress goes a long way to a healthy heart and certainly a healthy life.

OM-Times Magazine

Stress is inevitable, and although we experience it at different levels, we’re all bound to feel the tightness in our chest and the complete loss of control at some point.  So since I have finally stilled the noises in my head (at least for now), I thought it would be appropriate to discuss some of the things I should have done and some of the things I’ve been doing to get me through this itty bitty stressful time.

Recognize stress: My brain/body likes to keep me protected and does not tell me I’m experiencing stress. I often realize it when my sleep pattern changes or I notice that I’m reaching for sugary foods in great amounts. I’ve realized that I generally suppress stress and I’m about a week into it before I realize what’s going on. Dealing with stress well means recognizing the signs of stress. Think about it, what are some of the things you do when you're stressed out? 

Food: I’ve gone through a shameful amount of chocolate in the last two weeks and barely remember eating any of it. Many of us are comforted by food while stressed out. For some sugar provides that comfort, for others, salt. Either group is not particularly good for our bodies and certainly not for the stress. This CNN article describes the best foods to eat when we are experiencing stress and includes: blueberries, seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower etc), cashews, turkey, spinach, milk, pistachios, oatmeal, salmon, avocado, yogurt and dark chocolate (one square). Hmmm no ice cream in sight!

Physical activity: While many of us want to just sit and maybe sleep and hope the stressor will just go away, it is actually very healthy to move when we are experiencing stress. With blood pumping throughout our bodies, shuttling away cortisol and distributing the surge of many feel good hormones, movement is a great way to de-stress. This includes walking, running, dancing, sex, lifting weights, boxing, etc.  
Life's best medicine: Laughter definitely gets me through stressful times. It can be difficult to see humor in anything when we are stressed out, but laughter can sometimes be the thing that gets us over the hump. Watching something funny can be a great stress relief, or better yet calling up that loved one that you know will have you in stitches in no time!
Life's other medicine: There's something about music that is just so soothing to the stressed soul. When stress sets in, I turn off my TV and upsetting news, and plug into some soulful, joyful and uplifting music.

Mindfulness & Deep breathing: When I'm stressed out, I tend to engage in a lot of mindlessness. It's like my brain wants to shut down completely so as not to deal with the stress and apparently anything else. But becoming focused is a great way to deal with stress. It causes us to really look at what our stressor is and figure out what to do to overcome it. It is also good to take in deep breaths, which forces an increased amount of oxygen into our lungs and helps slow down our heartbeat and causes us to relax. Yoga is a fabulous activity to accomplish both of these as the practice requires mindfulness and focus on breathing.

Socialize: No, this doesn’t mean you should stay up chatting with friends instead of studying for that big exam! But it helps when we “vent” or talk about the thing that is causing us stress. Many of us find ourselves in isolation during stressful moments, partly because we are cranky, but often because we just can’t be bothered. However, in stressful situations, it can be useful to have discussions with like-minded people that can help sort through your head and help explore solutions, if that’s what’s required. Of course, it’s prudent to pick people that will not exacerbate your stress by unloading on you!
Writing: I often write out my thoughts to help still the discontented, disjointed, dis-everything thoughts that come up when I’m stressed out. I find the very act of writing things out shows me plainly what I need to do. A clear mind is definitely a great way to better decisions.

There are many other things to do to relieve stress. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting some fresh air and a new perspective. Sometimes it takes cleaning up our space so that we can see things clearly. Other times we just need to reset and take a quick break from the madness of our world. I often find that prayer also helps!

So how do you de-stress? Let me know!

Half-stepping diva