Tips for Reducing Stress

All the chaos and stress in the world can really take a toll. I won't get political (I'll save that for my Twitter account, you've been warned) but my emotional health would be a lot better if I didn't wake up each morning wondering if we've been tweeted into World War III. It's well documented what stress can do to our body and weight loss efforts. So when the world outside is cray-cray these are a few things that help me reduce my stress level. I hope you give a few a try.

1. Meal Plan. John F. Kennedy said, "The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." When life is calm I take some time (my Sunday afternoon usually) to make a meal plan, I basically just figure out three days in a row or so of balanced, protein forward meals and what I can do with any leftovers. I get out any pans or seasonings I need. I prep anything I can (roast veggies or throw an extra piece of chicken on the grill) basically I try and make it easier for the plan to become reality. So if/when life throws me a curve-ball or if an appointment takes way longer than I thought it would and I get home and I'm stressed and hungry. I don't have the added pressure of trying to figure out what to make and there is no eating based on emotion or "crap grabbing" anything out of desperation. I've got my plan.

More About Meal Planning

2. Take a walk outside. I try to take a walk every day. Study after study shows benefits in walking for mood and creativity. The fresh air and sunshine are natural tonics for me... if I am stressed I put on my sneakers and take off and when I get back the situation or stressor may not have changed but I have a better way of dealing with it.

3. Meditate. I have the most unquiet mind so if I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I set my alarm for 15 minutes early in the morning several times a week specifically to meditate. Sometimes I'll do a guided meditation (they vary from 10-15 minutes), sometimes I just listen to the ocean or rain on leaves (we don't get the real deal much around here) or sometimes I use Mala beads (which sort of reminds me of my Catholic upbringing and my Rosary.) It's not about religion for me... it's just about starting the day peaceful and centered. It's been a great help to me and I truly feel the difference on the days it doesn't happen. Some of my favorite FREE (you can upgrade to add the bells & whistles) Meditation Apps: Calm, Insight Timer.

Stress Relief Relievers

More Apps I love

4. To do lists. This one is a bit of a double-edged sword because it can overwhelm me at times to see a long daunting list but I get a thrill when I make that big line through a task and it helps me focus on what really needs to happen. Technically, I have 2 to-do lists. One list I make each night has my 2-3 priorities for the following day and then I have a master to-do list of stuff that needs to happen at some point, I try and group them into big stuff and little stuff, so if I find a few extra minutes in the day I look at my little stuff and knock one off... and if something doesn't happen well... that's life, tomorrow is another day, no guilt or shame about it, that only saps energy from the new day.

5. Music. Turning on the tunes is the easiest way to change my mood. I have a Spotify account and I make fun lists, songs to chill out to, motivation songs, dance songs (3-4 songs = 10 min workout), 80's, songs when it rains... you name it, I've made a song list for it.

6. Clear out the clutter. I have a cardboard box in the corner of my garage and when I find something that I don't want or need any longer, doesn't feel right, looked better on the mannequin... I put it in the box, when the box is full it gets put in the trunk and dropped off at the thrift (or donation box) and a new box is put in the corner. Letting go of things frees up space (literally and in your mind) to focus on what brings you joy.

7. Do something for someone else. The quickest way for me to reduce my stress level is to help someone else. Volunteering is great but you don't even have to leave home to do it. I hit a message board and answer a new weight loss surgery post-ops question or someone thinking about bariatric surgery but unsure about what life is like after. It helps me get out of my own world for a few minutes.

Other Favorites Acts of Kindness

and finally back to food...

8. Eat outside. I love to bring lunch (bento boxes are great) or take dinner outside. We call them "Tidbit Parties" or "Patio Picnics," yummy protein-packed tidbits brought outside on the patio and lots of laughter is a great way to soothe the soul.

I love the messages on my spreaders... wishing everyone around the world plenty of both!

Oodles of Bento Box Lunch Ideas
Money Saving Tips

I'd love to hear ways you've found to reduce stress.