This past week has been CRAY. We moved into our new apartment last Wednesday and it has been non-stop packing, emptying out the storage, unpacking, buying/building furniture, and organizing. Yet our living room still looks like this.
Clearly, we still have furniture to buy. I mean, we are using a chair that we need to return back to the store as a lamp holder. I’m currently waiting for the couch we ordered to come, which I feel like it never will.
So.. moving’s a b**ch. Don’t get me wrong, I love decorating a new space, especially buying new stuff, and really do like the new place (AH full sized kitchen!), but the whole process is not easy. Not to mention I’ve never been so busy at work at the same time.
Do I sound stressed or what? I should because I am.. and that’s what I want to talk about. Stress. As much as I have learned to manage and control my stress in the past year, I still need to watch out for when it takes over so I don’t lose my sh**. OCD and a perfectionist since as long as I can remember, and caring way too much about everything, stress has haunted my whole life. It also affects my IBS directly. I’m sure many can relate.
How we deal with stress is so so important to our well-being. You can be the cleanest eater in the world, but if you can’t manage your stress, your health compromises. You can’t sleep well. You have a hard time losing weight, or you can’t control your cravings. Then you are stressed out even more. See the vicious cycle here? It’s not pretty. Have you ever known anyone who can eat whatever the hell they want but they still seem extremely healthy (ugh, they are the worst)? Have you also noticed that they have really easy-going personalities and tend not to stress out over the little things? I see this so many times.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors never had to deal with the types of stress that we have to deal with in our modern lives today, and our bodies aren’t designed to. I strongly believe that managing stress affects our health more than any diet or exercise.
So what can we do to make sure that our stress level isn’t out of whack so our health isn’t compromised?
1. Meditate/Breathe. Before I learned more about the wonders of meditating and breathing, I thought it was something that only hippies and monks did. Once I started incorporating it regularly, I was floored by what a huge difference such a simple addition makes in my everyday life. It has improved my sleep, digestion, and my general demeanor, and it only take as little as 5 minutes a day if you are low on time. I recommend everyone try it out. If you need some guidance, Insight Timer is a great free app for iPhone and Android that comes with different lengths and types of meditations.
2. Spend time in nature. Have you ever gone hiking or spent time gardening, and felt so much calmer and more at peace afterwards? Spending time walking on dirt and grass among trees and rocks puts me in a better mood every time. Studies have shown that 15-30 minutes of walking in nature improves blood pressure, cholesterol, stress reduction, and is linked to longevity and decreased risk of mental illness. So go out there and play!
3. Do something you love. Everyone can relate to doing something they enjoy so much, and they are so absorbed in it that they can’t think of anything else while doing that activity. It can be painting, reading, board games with friends, knitting.. there are just so many things you can be passionate about! For me, it’s home improvement DIY projects and cooking. Pinterest is my best friend. Throughout this whole moving stress, the fact that I can use my creative side to decorate my new apartment has made a huge difference on my stress level. Even when everything else in your life is stressful, doing something you love each day can enrich your mental health.
4. Talk to someone. This is an obvious one. You know it feels so much better when you unload your problems to a friend, family member, significant other, or a health coach (shameless plug, ahem). Talk to someone who you know won’t judge you for what you say or think. They don’t even have to provide you advice or solutions. Just the fact that someone is there to listen will make you feel loved and better about what you are going through. Don’t dwell in your crap alone. That shiz can be toxic.
5. Physical contact does wonders. You know a hug (or sex!) with the right person makes things a million times better when you are going through stressful times, or just in general. It’s because this kind of physical contact creates oxytocin, or “happy hormones.” And this works with pets too! Playing and cuddling with my dogs always puts me in a better mood. It helps that they are the cutest dogs in the world.
6. Put things into perspective. Ask yourself, “Does stressing out about this change the situation?” Most of the time, it doesn’t. Another good question is, “WHY does this stress me out so much?” Your answer is probably not a reasonable one. When you shift your way of thinking so you can realize that your anger and/or frustrations are not necessary, you can then have a new mindset that is much more manageable and less stressful.
7. Do some light exercise. Walking a few miles, doing yoga, or leisurely biking is a great way to de-stress your mind and body. Make sure that when you are crazy stressed out, you DO NOT do any kind of excessive exercise like heavy lifting or running a marathon. Exercise itself is a stress on the body, and you do not want to double the effects of the negative hormones in your body.
8. Don’t turn to alcohol! I’m totally guilty of this. After a long hard day, I feel like I could really use a glass of wine or 5. Alcohol may help you unwind temporarily, but it will disrupt your sleep and digestive functions, and for me, I always end up feeling lethargic the next day, even if it’s just 1 glass. Instead, try taking a bath or drinking tea that’ll calm and soothe you. I love chamomile tea after dinner.
9. Invest in yourself. So many of us, especially moms, feel guilty about investing in ourselves. If you don’t take care of yourself, how will you be your best self for everything and everyone around you? Go get a massage, take a class on something you’ve been interested in trying, or get your nails done! I’ve been finding so many great deals online through services and like Groupon and LivingSocial, and these things do not have to cost a fortune. Afterwards, these small investments will make you feel mentally nourished and less stressed, and you’ll be a much more pleasant person to be around!
What are some things you do that helps you de-stress and re-energized?