Overcome Stress

It’s always with us, but there are ways to rethink, reframe, and respond to stress that are healthy – and helpful.

Stress is natural and it’s something that everyone experiences.  It’s your body’s automatic response to perceived pressure or threat.  Stress seems to know when to hit you and it can hit you all at once – like on the day of your big presentation or it can build up over time – exploding like a time bomb.  I know my tendency is to try and suppress the stress as long as possible and when it bubbles up BOOM…there’s either a cry fest, scream fit or both.  I’m the worst at handling stress.  I may look like I have it together, but most days this is what’s happening inside.  Bless my family for braving those storms!  I have yet to learn how to channel that stress into something positive or useful.

The Weight Watchers Weekly on this subject reminds you that you can use stress to motivate you, like when you pull all the details together for a surprise party.  But more often it works against you and your health.  Stress can show up in many forms – pain, difficulty sleeping, upset stomach, and headaches.  It takes its toll on your emotional health too.  Some of the things you can experience when this happens is difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable, tired or always worried.  When you’re experiencing stress – let’s face it you’re more likely to overeat, eat unhealthy foods and gain weight.

Weight Watchers gives some suggestions on how you can reframe your stress.  Although we can’t control stressful situations, we can change our response to them.  What you think determines how you feel, which determines what you do.  Learning how to identify unhelpful thoughts now and the next time the stress gets in your face, you can reality check the situation, shift your thinking and come away with a calmer, more realistic prospective.

Here are some quick ideas of things you can do in the moment that stress hits you hard.  It will give you a chance to focus on something else, which then in turn will help you make a positive mindset change.  When you’re stuck in the moment of stress it can seem endless with no hope in sight – so one of these tricks may help you shift gears a little faster.

I know for me, the switch to darkness can happen fast when I’m stressed, so I plan on posting these in my office so I can refer to them when I’m having a moment.  I’m fortunate to have a friend that I can “lifeline” text anytime about any subject and she supports me.  Because as we all know sometimes your spouse may not give you the same support as your ride or die.

What types of things do you do when you’re stressed out or feel it coming on?

REF: Weight Watchers Weekly dated February 25 – March 3, 2018

Reality Check After the Holidays

We’re still coming off the time of year that can cause us to feel pressure to be extra crafty, social, generous and downright festive.  I know that sums me right up!  If you’re one of the lucky ones that didn’t feel that pressure-great for you!  If you were affected, it’s totally normal to get caught up in unrealistic visions (your own, or someone else’s) of a picture perfect holiday and be disappointed if they fall short.  A post holiday reality check is a simple way to manage that.  A reality check is what this girl needs!

Take a minute to examine how you really felt during the holiday and how those thoughts affected how you felt and possibly continue to feel.  Taking this inventory can help you to better prepare for the next round of holidays that are coming up in just a few short months.

When you can identify and reality check your unhelpful thoughts, you can change your feelings and that can set you up for actions that help you enjoy the season’s pleasures without losing sight of your goals.  For me the holidays (any of them) cause anxiety.  I get stressed no matter if I’m hosting the holiday here or if I’m attending the holiday elsewhere.It’s definitely easier for me to manage my food choices when I’m hosting because I tend to keep myself extra busy in the kitchen.  When attending at someone else’s place I don’t have any control over the menu, which I can find overwhelming. I also have a hard time with socializing during family events.  I tend to be an introvert.  So large social situations make me anxious as well- not to mention managing my children’s anticipated needs.

These are some of the things that I have to work on and come up with strategies to work through these anxieties.  Here are some strategies that I’m going to keep  on hand to help me during those stressful times:

Say Ahh….

Why relaxation can help your weight loss success
and how to make it happen!

Say ahh… and shed stress so you can feel better!  Feeling better physically, mentally and emotionally – who doesn’t want that!  unchecked stress can take a toll on your health.  research has linked high levels of stress to everything from the severity of a cold to an increased risk of heart disease.  It’s also not good for your weight loss journey.  As you probably can guess one reason is that we often eat in response to stress.

According to Weight Watchers Weekly having a go-to technique to ease tension when you feel it building can keep you from turning to self-defeating solutions like comfort eating.  Its a double win, you’ll feel better when you’re equipped to handle stressors in your life and you’ll feel goof about the choices you make.  The first step to handling stress is simply to expect it – it happens to all of us – though we may have different stress triggers.  Then when the stress does hit, you can pivot right to a helpful nonfood solution.

Some suggestions provided in the WW Weekly are breathing techniques- What to do…breathe deep!  Instead of turning to food when stress hits, try any of the following easy exercises to quiet your mind and relax your body.  They suggest trying each exercise up to three times per week.

1. Whooshing breath – smile slightly, breathing in through your nose, then breathe out your mouth, making a quiet whooshing sound.  Take long, slow deep breaths in, letting your belly expand.  Feel the air moving in and listen to the sound hen you breathe out.  Try for one minute.

2. Counting breath – breathe deeply into your belly, letting it expand.  Pause, as you breathe out count “one” to yourself.  inhale again counting “two ” as you breathe out.  Continue for four breaths, starting over again to one.  Try for one minute.

3.  Relaxing sigh –  sigh deeply, let out the sound of deep relief as the air rushes out.  Then let the air come in naturally.  Try 10 times.

4. Breathe in relaxation, breathe out tension –  as you breathe into your belly, letting it fill with air, say to yourself “breathe in relaxation”. Imagine the relaxation entering your body – filing all those tense areas. Pause.  Then let the breath out saying “breathe out tension”.  Let go of the tension.  Try for one minute.

Give it a try, figure out ways for you to relieve stress rather than eating.  Listen when I say that I am no saint here.  I am just as guilty as the next person for filling my belly to try and drown the stress.  It backfires every time.  I also don’t know if this is the same for you as it is me but I have two levels of stress.  My normal one is the fill your face and regret it type, the other is honestly just as bad – its the severe stress where I don’t eat at all.  When my son had his accident there was no amount of breathing that could relieve that stress.  There was also no amount of food.  That first 5 days I ate little to nothing daily and survived on coffee.  However as soon as I knew he was making marked improvements I moved to my next level of stress management – eating all the food.  I gained a bunch of weight and now here I am fighting those same demons (PTSD is a bitch) and trying to lose weight.  I am going to try some of these and maybe set that breathe goal on my Apple Watch to remind me to do it!

3 Ways Exercise Can Help You at Work

If you’re used to working out before or after the daily grind, here’s a suggestion: start incorporating fitnessinto your workday. Some recent cool research shows that a sweat session can have a positive effect on your job performance. Here are the details:
It Fuels Your Creative Juices
Ever notice how desk jockeying all day can leave you feeling so uninspired? Then this is for you: A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychologydemonstrates that simply taking a walk during office hours can score you a creativity surge. Study authors conducted four separate experiments, asking subjects to take part in a series of creative exercises while doing some combination of sitting, walking, being rolled in a wheelchair, and/or walking on a treadmill. The results demonstrated that walking indoors and outdoors triggered a burst in creative thinking, with the average creative output rising 60 percent (!) when a person was walking. 
It Calms Your Nerves
If the idea of delivering a big presentation or speaking up at a meeting makes your heart pound, consider doing yoga beforehand. Astudy from the Journal of Physical Activity found that just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga (the kind that involves traditional physical postures and deep breathing) reduced anxiety more profoundly than 20 minutes on a treadmill or no exercise at all. Of course, it’s not always easy to steal some time away to ommmm. But if you can manage it, plan your session 30-40 minutes before your date with the conference room to rack up the best results. 
It Helps You Stay Balanced 
Think a workout session is just a time suck in your already-busy day? AHarvard Business Reviewstudy suggests the opposite is true: People who managed to stick with their regular exercise routine experienced less trouble finding a good work-life balance, possibly because structured activity helped people become better at time management and more confident in their ability to pull off the demands of both work and home. 
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Women’s Health Magazine 

4 New Ways to Stop Stress Eating

Can’t resist the office vending machine?  Well….blame your boss.  According to researchers at Emory University when alpha female monkeys ordered around less dominant pack members, the inferior animals ate significantly more AND gained more weight over a 2 month period of than the “mean girls” in charge.  The submissive monkeys also had higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone linked with dangerous belly fat.  Here are a few work friendly ways to prevent stress eating:

  1. Email yourself every time you eat.  Include the details of why and review the messages every Friday and look for patterns.  Create an action plan of what you’ll do differently next time.
  2. Instead of turning to food, email a buddy and tell her how you’re feeling.  Wait for her response before hitting the kitchen
  3. Sip green of black tea before reaching for a snack.  The drink contains theanine an amino acid that increases levels of relaxing chemicals in the brain.
  4. Join an Internet community for support, such as an emotional eating forum.

 Prevention Magazine October 2008