Stressed out? I hear ya! It seems like we just can’t get away from it! Whether it’s work, kids, family’s obligations, traffic, deadlines, bills, marriage, or ANYTHING, we all want some kind of relief from it. We seek relaxation and mind dumbing activities so we can stop thinking, stop doing, and just chill out.
What are your go-to stress relieving strategies? I’ll bet you have a pretty distinct pattern, even if you’re not always conscious of them. Check out the list below and see if you recognize any of these common ones:
- A daily beer, or glass of wine in the evening (or 2, or 3…)
- A sweet treat (or 2, or 3…)
- A Netflix binge night
- Intense exercise
- Partying it up with friends every weekend and staying up late
- Comfort food, processed food, fast food, etc
- Indulging in the latest Starbucks seasonally yummy drink
Anything sound familiar? I will fess up and say that #2, 3, & 4 are my big go-to “stress relievers”. OK, but here’s the thing, they don’t actually relieve your stress! Maybe on a surface level, and on a VERY temporary basis, you bliss out. But overall the above list actually CONTRIBUTES to your stress. Yes, that’s right! CONTRIBUTES! Think about it for a moment: alcohol, processed foods, sugar, caffeine, late nights, excessive exposure to blue light, pushing your body past it’s limits….STRESS!
So while these are very tempting activities to turn to when feeling like you “deserve” a treat, indulgent time off, or just want to turn your brain off, trust me, they aren’t actually helping you. Yes, spending time with friends, laughing and having fun, can definitely lower stress, it’s the accessories that do the damage (drinks, late nights, too much food). Now just to be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these things. After all they ARE highly enjoyable! I’m simply saying that it’s time to be aware of what they’re actually providing for you: an escape, NOT a reduction in stress.
Let me ask you, when was the last time you just did NOTHING? I’m talking – lay in the grass and stare at the clouds, lie on the floor in Savasana in the middle of the afternoon, take a 20 minute nap, sit and stare at the wall – type of nothing. NOOOTTTHHHINGGGGG…. My guess is probably not for a very long time. (and I’m not talking about sleeping, that doesn’t count!) I have been practicing “doing nothing” everyday and let me tell you, it rocks! My stress levels are significantly down and I always feel SO refreshed after.
The problem is, our culture doesn’t value doing nothing. We’re taught to be productive, to work hard, to get sh*t done. This kind of mentality is why we have so many health issues! It really needs to change, and YOU need to advocate for yourself and take a BREAK. So here’s your permission to let go, to just BE, to simply breathe, and to be still. Now before you roll your eyes and think there’s no possible way you could do this, just remember, I’m not talking about taking an entire day off, I’m talking 5 min, 2 in, even 1 min! The laundry will still be there, the dishes can wait, the Facebook notifications won’t disappear, your coworker can wait for that email. Allow yourself the grace to not always be doing, and own the fact that is DOESN’T make you lazy, in fact, it makes you HEALTHIER and a better human! Over all, you will be more productive, more happy, and have more energy! And I guarantee, you will still get through your to-do list!
Some of my other favourite stress reducing self care practices include:
- Snuggling and talking with my daughter with ZERO interruptions or distractions (put the phones away!)
- Taking a long slow walk outside
- Doing a home facial and beauty routine (see my fav Beautycounter products for this!)
- Sipping herbal tea and reading a good book
- Talking out my problems with a close friend
These types of practices don’t contribute to your bodies stress burden, they can genuinely lower it.
To put this into perspective so you can find the motivation to do some of these stress reducing activities, let’s talk fat loss. It’s an ongoing battle for most women, despite the eating well, exercising, and “doing it all”. In my opinion THIS is the missing piece! It’s the one thing that is rarely talked about. We can breakdown macros and calories all we want, we can lift weights and do our HIIT training till there’s a pile of sweat on the floor, but if we don’t acknowledge our stress and embrace the “do nothing” principle, you will probably struggle with getting the scale to budge. It’s true! Take a good look at your lifestyle and be honest with yourself. Are you fighting stress with more stress? Are you contributing MORE to your stress burden by participating in activities that seem like they’re good for you but actually aren’t?
Hmmmmm, perhaps it’s time for a change!