Stress is a normal part of being human. Sometimes we have little, sometimes we have more than any person should ever have to go through. Sometimes it can feel as if the world is coming to an end. Stress is here, stress will always be here. Many things that stress us out are out of our control. What we can control is how we respond to stress.
For those of you on the insider’s email list, you know that I sent out a newsletter this week about balancing your stress with decompression/destress activities. For those of you NOT on the insider’s email list, what are you waiting for?
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I got an awesome email response back from one of my subscribers, and here is the part that I want to focus on:
“For me, I think that leaving work mentally and emotionally exhausted, and going home and eating shitty processed food, or going out to dinner for shitty deep fried bar food (and some nights I literally had wine or bourbon for dinner) was the killer… I ended up in a tailspin that I am glad is behind me. I’m below 200 lbs for the first time in a long time.
So moral of my rambling non-sensical story: stress has a huge impact on your weight and well being. Not just the cortisol, but also whatever your coping/ escape mechanism is.”
First – bravo my friend! I was so happy to read this email I even did it mid-workout, during my heavy bench press rest period, and those of you who know me, know it takes a lot to break my focus in that exact moment.
Second – he is 100% right here.
We can talk about cortisol, stress levels, stressors, etc. forever – we all have them – but it is the ACTIONS we do because of the stress that really ends up compounding the problems on top of us and leading to potentially unhealthy coping mechanisms.
So first we must look at what is causing the stress, and is it something that we can either change completely or do we need to change our response to it?
If the weeds in your front yard are stressing you out, you can change that – weed killer or hire a company.
If your boss at work is stressing you out…well you could change that by quitting, but what if that isn’t an option?
Then we need to go to step 2 – and alter our reaction to the stressor.
It first begins with analysis – why is the situation stressing you? What is your reaction to the stress, and is this healthy?
Problem: Continuously getting asked to work long hours at work.
Why is this stressing me: I’m overtired, it makes me crabby, and I am missing out on family time.
What is my reaction: I get home late, have a drink or two, and eat whatever I can get my hands on quickly.
What is the consequence of this reaction: I have gained weight, I sleep like shit because of the greasy food and alcohol – which then adds to more stress and less recovery, making me more susceptible to making these types of decisions more quickly and frequently.
What are my options to change this: Change the situation – quit my job. Change my reaction/change outside of the job – ask for a meeting with the boss, prioritize sleep patterns better to increase productivity, pre-plan meals so I have something that isn’t shit food ready for me when I get home late, enlist a no drinking during the week rule on myself, remind myself that I am more than my job and this behavior is not helping the problem, take a look at the project and maybe realize that the end is in sight and I can grind it out – then plan a vacation to recharge, practice 5 minutes of meditation every day…it could go on and on.
Now, there may be many ways to try and change your reaction to a big problem – and they may not work. This is when the nuclear option may be the only choice. That might be scary, especially when it comes to something like quitting a job, breaking up with your partner, moving to a totally new place, or other often scary and daunting choices.
But you might need to think about it deeper – what do you have to lose? What do you have to gain? Where does this balance out? Weigh out the pros and cons of both situations – and go from there. This critical analysis can help you rationalize an often daunting emotional decision much better than sitting around and pulling your hair out over it (shout out to one of my mentors who taught me this and put me through this during a bigger decision point in my life)
I’m not telling you to go out and quit your job today – but I’m also telling you that spending 50+ hours a week, doing something that you hate 100% of the time is no way to live, no matter what the paycheck is.
Stress management is huge – especially for those who choose to turn to food in times of stress, and all of a sudden find that their clothes don’t fit anymore! Many of my online clients deal with this, and this is often the topic of our check in’s. We might not even talk about macros, calories, etc…but just about stress and life, and that is what helps them the most!
If you’re stress eating has you out of control, I can help!
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Stay healthy my friends,