Reacting to Stress

I think of myself as a “generally” well-adjusted, calm and rational human.

Not to say I don’t have my ‘things’. We all have our things.

In addition to being generally well-adjusted, calm and rational, I’m also a perfectionist, type-A, tightly wound, can’t sit still, and I’m fairly certain I’ve diagnosed myself with adult ADD.

I don’t drink a ton and I don’t pop medication. For me, exercise is my drug of choice.

It’s funny actually - when I’m calm and have no stress I tend to go about my normal routine: I walk an hour a day, I do hot power yoga 1-2x a week, I’m not constantly snacking or fidgeting and I sleep like a log.

When I’m the least bit stressed out or anxious however, everything changes. My ‘medicine’?

TO SWEAT AND MOVE A LOT.

Take for example last week. I was anxious/stressed and walking just wasn’t cutting it.

Monday I sprinted.

Tuesday I jogged.

Wednesday I ran

Thursday I ran.

Friday I finally calmed the f*ck down and did my long walk.

Saturday and Sunday I walked.

I didn’t do yoga. I didn’t do Pilates.

I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do.

I wanted to zone out and sweat. Get my crazy out. And I felt like I succeeded, but I also felt like I was all over the place all last week.

Stress is a funny thing. It manifests in everything. In addition to going balls out on my workouts, I was eating all over the map. I wasn’t eating mindfully, I was inhaling my food, eating a lot of foods that made me feel not great (I typically stay far away from meat ad for whatever reason I couldn’t get enough last week), absolutely needed wine on Wednesday and was just out-of-sorts.

I can recognize when this happens (or is happening) in myself and have found that (for me), there are 3 main things I can do to deal and react to my stress or anxiety, regardless of the source of it.

  1. Take time out for me. When I’m stressed, exercise is crucial. I need to carve out time for myself to just sweat through it. Higher intensity workouts seem to be what I crave and what I need but I try to be mindful of the frequency and duration so as not to burn out or injure myself. Listen to your body - if it wants a run, then damnit… run.

  2. Get outdoors, unplug. Being in a class is literally the last thing I need. Long walks, a run, just sitting outside at lunchtime without any electronics, stimulation, any of it is helpful to clear the mind, and get a fresh (literally) perspective on what you’re dealing with and what’s stressing you out.

  3. Talk about it. I’m a problem solver by nature. When a problem or obstacle arises in my life (in any area of it), I want to solve it. To come up with a plan, assemble a team, and move forward towards a solution or common goal. I tend to stress when I don’t have complete control over something (did I mention I’m also a control freak?) and talking about the what and the why of the thing that’s causing me stress is helpful in diminishing it, even if I can’t solve it completely.

Happy to report that after a weekend of restful sleep, lots of fresh air, time with Hubs and family, my stress has (almost) entirely dissipated and I’m back to my normal self. (Relatively speaking…)

So tell me - how do you deal with stress?