Happy Sunday everyone! I think this is such an important topic to talk about today. I’m not just talking about how stress can effect your food intake or food choices, but I also want to share how it can effect your body in general. I’ll also share some ways I’ve learned to manage stress through food and exercise. I’m definitely not a model example when it comes to managing stress. I’ve definitely encountered moments where I’ve let stress get the best of me and effect my mood, my body, and my daily activities.
I do think its getting better. Something, or someone rather, that helps me manage stressful times is my husband. It really helps me to identify periods that are stressful and say it out loud or have him point it out. Once its out and in the open, I feel like it is easier for me to manage!
Not only can stress cause physical signs of hurt or discomfort such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, stomach discomfort/digestive issues, and chest pain, it can also effect your daily mood. Heightened anxiety is something that I usually face during times of stress, and it also tends to effect my sleep patterns. Both of these symptoms tend to lead to irritability and eventually lots and lots of tears. Stress can effect everyone differently, this is just my own personal experience. Other common effects that stress can have on mood include lack of motivation or focus, decreased sex drive, social withdrawal, sadness, depression, and anger outbursts (MayoClinic).
In terms of health behaviors, stress can lead to over or under eating, excessive exercise OR minimal exercise due to excessive fatigue, and increased consumption of alcohol (MayoClinic). I tend to make food choices that I normally wouldn’t make when I’m stressed and feel over guilty about them.
So if we know that all of these things happen when we are stressed, how can we minimize the emotional roller coaster and other side effects? I’m not a psychologist (clearly), but I do have a few things that have worked for me in the pasts.
Baking — Baking is relaxing for me. It’s relaxing because it requires concentration (measuring, paying attention to the clock, etc), but it also requires creativity. Because of these reasons, it takes my mind away from whatever is stressing me out and requires me to focus on the task at hand.
Running — Running is the main form of exercise that helps calm me down or clear my mind. Going for a long run and falling into a rhythm with music and outdoor surroundings is the ideal situation to help me zone out and focus on my breathing and stride.
Yoga — While I don’t practice yoga now as much as I use to, yoga was key for me in college to wind down and de-stress. Yoga is a great way to tap into your breathing and notice when certain parts of your body are in fact tense or “stressed”.
Choose tea, not wine! — Alcohol + stress can only lead to bad things. If I have a few glasses of wine during times when I am REALLY stressed (Outside of normal stressful work days or driving home in traffic — I’m talking REAL stress.) my emotions tend to get the best of me. I have found that having a cup of tea at night really helps me wind down and relax before bed. This not only is great stress-relief, but it also helps me sleep better! My favorite night-time teas are any type of chamomile tea, ginger-lemon, or decaffeinated mint. I’m showing two of my favorites below!
I went to a little talk about stress management at work last week to hear one of my co-workers speak, and she talked a lot about deep breathing. We practiced this method during the talk and it was super relaxing! I don’t know the in’s and out’s of this stress-relief method, but I’d highly recommend doing some research on it and trying it out yourself!
I hope that some of these tips were helpful. As always, feel free to message me with comments or questions! Now — I’m going to go try to manage my stress while watching the Cavs play game two!!! Let’s go Cleveland!