Stuck in traffic.
Late to the next thing.
Get this done so you can get that next thing done.
Where’s the checklist?
Can’t find my purse.
Didn’t get the dishes finished.
Forgot to pick up that gift.
What’s for dinner?
Did I wash my hair or just get it wet?
Do I even have time to call them?
Why do I draw a blank when someone asks me what we’re having for dinner and it’s 7p?
The laundry has sat on the floor for 2 weeks now.
I can’t remember how long I’ve been scrolling social.
What have I forgotten to do?
Why do I never feel present?
Why am I always catching the latest cold?
Why can’t I keep my eyes open in the middle of the day?
Why do I have trouble going to sleep, staying asleep or getting up?
What did I even have for dinner and why can’t I stop snacking?
If you just read that list and have asked at least yourself at least one of those questions, you’ve felt… STRESSED.
According to Carolyn Aldwin who directs The Center for Healthy Aging Research at Oregon State University,“There are a number of ways chronic stress can kill you, that includes increased levels of cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, and increase blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease”.
Stress is everywhere and no matter what residually happy facebook post you just saw about your friend’s sunshiney trip to Greece (again!) with a seemingly perfect life, stress doesn’t pick and choose.
Even though it might feel like it, you didn’t get extra sprinkles from the stress cloud last night. There are days where it can feel like the walls are falling in, for sure.
Some of it is out of your control. And if that is true, you still control your response.
Like everything in life, there is No. Magic. Pill.
Food and alcohol can definitely numb stress. Temporarily.
Months or years of using this coping strategy results in more stress by the way you look and feel, mental despair, frustration and potentially future new medications to manage high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and heart disease. The cycle continues.
But, there is an incredibly impactful way you can take back your life, own your power and unlock the confines of the stress/eating/sabotage cycle.
Let’s get started!
Here are 10 ways you can lower your stress levels:
1. Exercise. Even just 5 but ideally 30 minutes each day will help you release toxic stress and tension plus improve your mood and energy. Need ideas for 5 minute workouts when you can’t get to the Studio? Click here and subscribe to my YouTube channel for new workouts every week. Exercising in a way that is low impact and supports your goals is critical to lowering stress and staying healthy.
2. Meditate. Growing up I never had even heard the word “meditate”. We were taught to pray. Praying and meditation have beautiful similarities and differences. Meditation can be confusing because some believe you have to have “rules” to do it right. Let’s get clear, there are no rules. No where you have to be or get to, nothing you have to focus on. No. Rules. You can be on the beach and close your eyes sitting comfortably on a blanket and meditate to the sound of the ocean for 2 hours. Or. You can pull into the parking lot at work, look up to the sky, take 4 deep breaths and meditate thinking about whatever flows through your mind for 30 seconds. Any effort is good effort. Let it be. Praying has it’s own impact no matter what you believe or don’t believe. Whatever you choose to practice, give yourself the power to be present, feel your body in space and own your energy. Put on soothing music if that makes you feel better. Create a space just for meditating if it’s more relaxing for you. This is not about a result but instead about a process that will infiltrate how you show up in the world. Inhale peace. Exhale stress.
3. Let go of the illusion that “it” could’ve been any different. Replaying the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve‘ s in your mind for hours or days or years can be debilitating. Hindsight IS 20/20. Stop taking what you know now and projecting it to what you didn’t know then. If you have unprocessed feelings from something you said or didn’t say or do, ask yourself, “what do I need to feel in order to let this pass through me and what am I going to choose to feel instead”. Apologize if an apology is due. Write a letter and send it or burn it. Seek a safe support to talk it out. Get curious without judgement, “how can I look at this as for me not to me”. Hiding emotions is not strength. Unprocessed emotions will find their into dis-ease in your body.
4. Food causes psychological stress, physiological stress and inflammation. Everyone has seen a child who has been given open buffet to candy, cookies, cakes, pizza, chips, etc. They. Are. Crazy. They can’t focus, they can’t sit still, they often “act out”. Then they crash. They can’t focus. They have brain fog, they’re lethargic, they want may crave more food OR they may just pass out. Dr. Steven Gundry, former president of The American Heart Association and Pediatric Heart Surgeon reported finding clotting heart arteries in children starting as young as 9 years old. The number one culprit is the types of foods we eat. MSG or monosodium glutamate is found in most salad dressings, chips, box dinners as well as Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which is a widely used and harmful herbicide used on crops and other plants to kill weeds. Glyphosate residue can be found in your food supply — on produce, in meat, and in packaged foods. High fructose corn syrup is found in ketchup, juice, cereals, pop tarts, muffins, candies and many, many other packaged and processed foods. I hear you… so what can I eat? Anything you make is better than anything that comes from a package. Find real fruits and vegetables. Ask for the ingredients in your protein shake. “All natural” means nothing. Buy the foods with the least amount of ingredients (for example: breakfast sausage that has 3 ingredients vs. a different one that has 30). Buy organic and non-gmo whenever possible. It costs more, true. But how much do prescriptions and pills cost later when the effects of toxic foods are potentially irreversible? This is a battle we didn’t have to worry about 150 years ago when food was grown locally, often at home or from neighbors. In our fast paced, convenience driven world, notice where you can avoid “buying” stress for you or your family. Do the best YOU can.
5. Avoid putting yourself in situations that stress you out. One huge way to avoid stress is to stay away from it all together. Have a co-worker that’s always negative? Spend time with them covering what needs to be covered and then direct your attention somewhere else. Hate being rushed into work? Wake up 15 minutes earlier and meditate or stretch before you start the day. Have a family member that drains your soul? Create healthy boundaries for how much toxic energy you allow in your headspace and encourage them to find new ways to process their stress. Worry about finances? Create a plan to become debt free. Worry about being “liked”? Create a daily journal habit about what you like about yourself. Worry about not having enough? Create a gratitude journal of what you love about your life and what having more will do for you? Worry about disappointing others? Ask yourself why you feel the need to try and control others emotions and if you’d rather be liked or respected? Most people say liked. It’s tough but totally worth working through these feelings. It’s not the situation that stresses you out, it’s the emotions attached to the stress. This is where the deep dive of exploring emotional triggers can be very empowering.
6. Play. Do you remember when time wasn’t a thing and your imagination was wild and alive? Where did it go? Sometimes we are SO caught up in the to-do list that we forget one of the most powerful connections to our “you-ness”. Play. Adults are typically not culturally accepted to “play” like kids or have wild imaginations. Kids often hit an age as a teenager when you can’t be/act/do what might look silly, foolish, or wasteful of time when you could be doing homework or working. Adults often prioritize cleaning, cooking, errands, tv and work over games, discovery, art, doodles, music or dance. What happens when you become present in play? You feel guilty for not doing laundry, right? Let it go. Who would you show up as in the world if you allowed yourself to play a little everyday? A most incredible and most likely forgotten or buried version of you-ness that deserves to be free.
7. Take a nature bath. Nature is so nurturing for me. Whether it’s hot or cold, summer or winter, sunshine or rain, I love the way nature feels on my skin. It reminds me of how small I am, how connected I am to something so much greater than myself and how important it is that I don’t let my ego get so caught up in my own little world. No matter what my mind is reeling about, my feet feel the Earth, my muscles move my body, my lungs fill with fresh air and my stress is gone. The only power there is is contained within this moment: It is the power of your presence.
8. Connect to what you love and those who inspire you. Do things out of your comfort zone. Use social media to connect in person. Find ways to have experiences with people you like being around that like what you like. Ask questions. Become a sponge for soaking up the beautiful nuances and intricacies of something or someone that interests you. Try and see the world through their eyes. Be a forever student. Connect to something inside you that’s craving to be nourished and explored.
9. Take an adult time out. That’s exactly what it sounds like. Go in your room or wherever you can be alone. And decompress through self-talk, breathing, closing your eyes or taking a short nap. Come back with a new energy. That’s not punishment, that’s power. Bunny ears optional.
10. Forgive yourself. Stop trying to be it all. Stop trying to do it all. Stop trying to hold it all together and look sexy and run here and be there and fake another smile. Long term, it does not work. You know what’s incredibly attractive inside and out? When you TAKE CARE OF YOU. Make non-negotiable time in your calendar for you. Non-negotiable. Ask yourself what helps you process through stress best and put you back in the front row seat of your life.
Christmas is right around the corner and what can be a time of joy and fun can also be a time of stress, expectations and surprises. It is the best time to start small and find ways to connect to your body wisdom.
What do you need to do to release stress?
What will happen if you don’t find healthy ways to release stress?
How will your energy and passion shine when you feel the weight of stress lifted?
Who will benefit most from you taking action to do this for yourself?
You’re so worth it.
P.S. As a Health/Life Coach I help women who feel like they’re sick and tired of feeling stressed out, stuck feeling uncomfortable in their own skin and are done being at war with their bodies so they can feel the freedom, empowerment and energy they’ve been missing. Several of my clients who were Pre-Diabetic or Type 2 Diabetic no longer show symptoms of Diabetes at all and that’s just the beginning of what their celebrating after my signature “Take Back Your Life” Transformational Coaching Program. Click here to set up a time to chat and see if 1:1 Coaching or Group Coaching is a good fit for you. Spaces are limited.
P.S.S. Pilates and Barre are incredible ways to get exercise and lower stress. Check out the class schedule at www.christycaterwellness.com