For some of us stress plays a part in waylaying our efforts to live healthily 24/7. Despite our best intentions for creating a lifestyle free of stress, many of us seem to face the stress monster at every turn. Perhaps we are dealing with difficult family or work situations. Or we have personally scheduled way too many things into our busy life. Perhaps we struggle with financial or health problems. Or perhaps it is the adversity of those we love that is pushing our hearts to the limit. The good news is there are practical ways to reduce stress in your life without having to spend a whole lot of money. I have really enjoyed the book pictured above 50 ways to soothe yourself without food by Susan Albers (author of eating mindfully). Here are just a few ideas- some from her book.
1.Choose a mantra/prayer- Something calming that has special meaning to you. Perhaps a favorite scripture phrase or the verse of a hymn. Here’s one recommended in the book Tranquility “Calmness beside me. Stillness around me. Compassion inside me. “ Repeat to yourself during stressful times.
2.Use humor. Search humor on Pinterest- make a board of pinterest links that make you laugh. Read your favorite comic strip. Listen to a few minutes from your favorite comedian (mine are Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan)
3.Stay away from Zebra thinking (couching everything in severe terms). Be on the look out for “perfect” “disaster” and “Impossible”. If you hear yourself saying these words, try to counter them with a less extreme term, like "sometimes," "occasionally," "good enough" and so on. In the context of eating, typically these words form sentences like "I'm a complete failure," "I've totally ruined everything," and "I will never be able to stop stress eating." Instead, focus on a more realistic statement, such as "I am often able to soothe myself with activities other than eating."
4. Light therapy. Sunlight or bright full-spectrum light on your skin can significantly improve your mood. It's one of the main forms of treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a mild form of depression some people experience during the winter months when there is little sunlight. Sunlight helps reset your internal clock and increases your serotonin levels. When you feel you need comfort, sit by a window in indirect sunlight or go outdoors for thirty minutes—but don't forget to use sunscreen and sunglasses. If there's very little sunlight in the wintertime where you live or if you can't get outdoors, investigate buying a therapy light. These are bright lights you can use indoors that have the same healing effect as sunlight does.
5. Sip hot or cold tea. If there's a pattern to your stress eating, you may want to schedule teatime for yourself at some point in the day when you might be prone to eat for emotional reasons. Tea is chemically complex. It has many different ingredients that affect neurotransmitters and other mood-regulating chemicals. Chamomile is one type of herbal tea well-known for its soothing and calming properties.
6. Apply a warm or cold washcloth. To calm your body, put a damp washcloth over your eyes, feet, or forehead. Choose a warm or cool cloth depending on what sounds the most soothing to you at the moment.
7. Organize a closet or a drawer in your desk. Pick one small project. If you choose too large an area, you might feel overwhelmed and therefore could feel worse. There is something calming about making even one small area totally orderly and neat.
8. There is a well known saying “When all else fails take a bath.” And there does seem to be something magical about soaking in a warm bubbly bath. When patients with Type 2 Diabetes soaked in a hot tub for 30 minutes, 6 days a week after only 10 days they had lost weight, needed smaller doses of insulin, slept better and felt an increased sense of well being.
9. It makes scents! Pure essential oils have many powers including helping to lift your spirits. Seek some out at the health food store and keep a bottle in your purse or desk. Those considered the most soothing: chamomile, rose, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, and lemongrass.
10. Handwork- knitting, cross stitch, crocheting- Knitters talk enthusiastically about the therapeutic nature of knitting. The sound of the clicking needles and the movement of the hands does wonders to clear and sooth the mind. The reaction response received from hand work causes the same bodily reaction as meditation and yoga. So stitch away (note you can learn how to knit and crochet on you tube now)
Your Challenge For Week 4 is to focus on calming yourself without food. I highly recommend reading Susan Alber’s book but I am sure you can come up with many methods of your own. Be creative and try new things not already a part of your daily life. You are welcome to use any method you come up with- you are not restricted to the list above. For every day that you purposefully set aside at least 5 minutes to do an activity that is self-calming you will earn the 5 daily challenge points. So chill out ladies!