Feeling stressed out and like your life is unmanageable?

I get it! As a mom of 3, some days life feels challenging, stressful, and pretty much stinks.

And to be quite honest, sometimes the all-to familiar destress activities can just add to my agitation. with all the age-old recommendations:

  • Take a day completely off every week if possible! Do something fun.
  • Meditate
  • Practice deep belly breathing.
  • Spend time with loved ones.
  • Say NO more often and guard your time wisely.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat a healthy, gut-friendly diet to support your digestive system.
  • Practice yoga to help build a mind-body connection (vs. trying to excel at it).

Sure, these are all great practices, and I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard them before. I can even recall deep belly breathing only to nose dive into a plate of brownies. Stress is hard, and we aren’t very good at dealing with it. Instead we buffer our stress with wine and emotional eating.

Sound familiar?

What if instead of diverting and attempting to modulate the stress level, you were able to engage with it and confront it head on by CHOOSING TO THINK differently about it? Wouldn’t reframing your thoughts and actively choosing how you think and feel about a situation be a more lasting approach to carry through life?

When you learn to engage actively with your stress and to choose  your thoughts and feelings around it, you no longer attempt to push emotions aside, and emotional eating/sabotaging behavior falls to the wayside. Please know this takes practice! It’s like a muscle that can only grow the more you use it!

THE SOLUTION

Reframe your stressful thoughts to look at a situation with open-ended opportunity or possibilities rather than roadblocks that leave you feeling like a helpless victim. The awesome result?…Decreased stress, creative problem solving, and successful resolutions. Isn’t that a lot more appealing than defeat, frustration, and eating the plate of brownies?

Try the following 4 steps to reframe your next stress-loaded day:

1) LAUGH! When you grab a good friend and laugh (see image, right), it releases happy hormones and puts life into perspective. Think about the last time you spent with a good friend, sipping latte, catching up, or just being silly and laughing. For most, that’s total pleasure as the world melts away and stress takes a backseat. Our bodies cannot be in a state of stress and pleasure all at the same time, since they engage two different divisions in the autonomic nervous system. By spending time laughing, relaxing, and having fun with a friend or spouse, you automatically force your body into the “rest and digest nervous system that will automatically slow your heart rate and relax organs required for digestion and calm. This step alone allows you to move through the next steps….And, “yes,” you might have to fake it on this one…Even a fake smile or laugh moves your body and brain in the right direction!

2) Identify the EXACT stressor and your level of stress (0-10). Females think in patterns that are “all or nothing,” and small stressors build to one big storm. With today’s fast-paced society and instant demands, stress grows quickly and easily. On average, Mom’s work the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs and have an average of only 17 minutes to spend on herself daily. That speaks volumes for the acute, short-term stress, which most Moms manage…Bills to pay, laundry to fold, emails to answer, PTO meetings to attend, work, kids’ homework, and serving as the professional taxi driver too. It’s enough to make anyone chronically stressed out! Recognizing stress and the TRUE CIRCUMSTANCES that are causing you stress is the first step to managing overwhelming emotions. 

Identifying the root of your stress and then catching it at a level 5 (before its insurmountable), is a powerful combination to finding solutions and to preventing your health from suffering significantly. By identifying the exact cause and level of stress, this allows you to intervene early on with strategies such as saying “NO” to unnecessary obligations, to work on better eating habits, to getting more sleep, to attend counseling, or the like. Eating brownies won’t solve the problem or relieve stress, it only validates your misery!

3) Resist false or unhelpful thought patterns that sabotage solutions by asking “WHAT IF…” Our brains generate cyclical, negative messages that prevent finding solutions. When you ask “what if…..(I asked my boss for time off)…” it allows your brain to break free and think creatively for solutions. Our brains are experts at finding roadblocks, so sometimes it takes a deliberate and conscious effort to change your thought pattern to finding unique solutions rather than to stick with the “old way” 

4) Get into action! Once you’ve identified unique solutions, action kills fear, inhibitions, and the feelings of being “stuck!” What’s more, when you move from a pile of helpless stress and into action mode, you start to focus on the things you can change, giving you a feeling of control to be more effective with stress management. 

Stress comprises our perception of daily demands and our capacity to handle it all successfully. Reframing allows you to have better perspective and more tools for handling problematic situations. Next time stress takes over, try reframing the situation and please share your thoughts on what worked best for you!

Stress is hard! It can derail your health. Let me help you to put it all together. I’m here to help you take the next step in your wellness or fitness journey with private health coaching. Imagine having the tools to deal with stress, to solve your problems, and to be EMPOWERED over that plate of brownies! It starts with a thoughtful health consultation! Schedule yours today!