12 Ways to Stay on Top of Stress

You know how you have those weeks (or maybe months or years) that just seem to be loaded with stress.  I know its all-relative — one person’s stress is another’s holiday. People with two children think having just one child is a piece of cake, and so on. I have had one of those weeks — I have been on the road a lot and dealing with an injury, work has not been going my way, and an alien has possessed my three-year-old. In addition, I am not talking about a friendly alien that wants to know what this planet is all about — no; I am talking about someone who wants to launch a full-scale assault, but only in public places. To be honest, this stress has even made it more challenging to relate to my husband in a free-and-easy “girlie” way. I have had more tones of “wife” in my voice during this past week than I have had in my entire 11-year relationship.

It takes a million years for one gene to change in our bodies. One million years!  I am bringing this up because, physiologically, we are the same humans we were 300 years ago. Nevertheless, look at how things have changed in that short time. Some things make life easier now: washers and dryers, transportation, abundance of food, electricity, etc. However, some things make life today more insane: cell phones, traffic, increased population, fake food, TV, busy schedules. I heard a statistic from a doctor-friend that we make more decisions in one day than people used to make in a year. No wonder we are stressed out and reaching for doughnuts or alcohol to cope.

Not all this craziness and high-speed living is going away. Since we cannot change our genes, we have to create a map to navigate this crazy life. What can you do to try to stay on top of the stress so it does not affect your health, happiness, or waistline?

  1. Exercise. Amen for endorphins. Believe me; they have helped me many days with my perspective. If you have to work out, then go take a brisk walk and gets that blood flowing. It is not about working out to lose weight — it is about being healthy and staying sane.
  2. Eat the real stuff. Crappy food (fast, processed, and loaded with sugar) does not help your chemical brain and body handle stress. Living food, real food, helps support your mind and body while it is trying to deal with the million things coming its way. Every time I reach for the chocolate, I am looking to feel something from it. Do not get me wrong — if it is just a little here and there, because I enjoy the taste of it, great. However, if I am using it the minute I feel overwhelmed, then that is when that food is no longer OK to eat. It does not make the problem go away, and then I just feel bad about eating the food to pacify myself. Grab green food instead. Put things in your mouth that are going to support your immune function and keep you levelheaded.
  3. Notice. Try not to let the stress overtake you. Recognize the situations that cause the stress and notice them coming your way. You have a chance at fending off the full effects of the stress when you can anticipate it.
  4. Get it off your chest. Talk to a friend or partner about the stress. Sometimes just getting it off your chest can help unload some of the burden.
  5. Keep your sense of humor. If you do have the chance to talk about it, try to see the irony and humor in the wacky bits. I think someone is dead in the water once they lose their sense of humor.
  6. Stay grateful. My daughter has large lungs and verbal skills she likes to display. Just when I start to wishfully think about her being quiet, I remind myself to be grateful that she can talk to me at all. In almost all of our problems are boatloads of blessings. “Oh, I don’t feel like going to the gym.”  Well, Amen that you have the means and the health to even is able to wrestle with the idea of going to work out. Make a habit of saying thank you. You will notice the sunny spots a lot more often, and not just the gray skies and storms.
  7. Ask, “What’s the hurry?”  Have some fun. We are always so busy going somewhere; we miss just enjoying the moment. If an opportunity comes your way to do something fun, take it.
  8. Take a deep breath. When you feel the stress getting to you, take a moment. Get away, even if it is just for an hour, to be with yourself and your thoughts. Some people like to take a walk, meditate, lock themselves away in a beautiful bath, or go to church. Find the peace and the silence.
  9. Keep it simple. Simplify where you can. Does Junior really need to be in 78 activities at the age of five?  Do you have to go to every little party or gathering you is invited to?
  10. Turn of the TV. A lot of it is bad news anyway, and it robs us of hours that we could use to be getting other things done. Since everyone complains that, they have no time, get some by unplugging from the tube.
  11. Sleep. If you are rested, you have a chance at handling things. Not to mention, you may not stress out as easily if you have a chance to recover at night.
  12. Drink water. I have said it before: Americans consume 21 percent of their calories through liquid consumption. Hydrate with water. Help you entire system function better just by drinking enough water. Oh, and by the way, if you do not think that weight loss and proper hydration have a relationship, think again. Shift the paradigm on its side — do not think about exercise and nutritional eating just as something you have to suffer through to get into those jeans. Instead, think of them as armor that will protect you in this crazy world, with all of the bazillion details you deal with every day.


** ** **