Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fifty-two Ways to Relieve Stress

... that do not involve food.

Someday, I am going to write about my journey to healthy eating, because, people, on the eve of my 52nd birthday, I feel like I have finally arrived. That is a long story, but part of it is that when I am trying to change habits, it helps to have new actions to grab when the old habit beckons. One of the things I figured out once I got my head out of the sand with respect to me and food is that I eat when I am bored and I eat when I am experiencing stress. I eat to celebrate and I eat to relax. The eating when stressed seems to be the biggest problem, because it is hard to think clearly when I am stressed. So, I'm making a list to which I can refer.

Ways to meet stress and keep on walking...

1. Punch Bozo.

2. Say no.
3. Sing a song from your childhood as loud as you can, or as silly as you can. Sing Row Your Boat with a mad voice.
4. Sigh.
5. Do nothing for ten minutes.
6. Slow down the pace.

"For fast-acting relief try slowing down.”  
– Lily Tomlin
7. Reduce the number of clocks in your life.
8. Walk three miles. Two miles will do in a pinch, but for some reason three works best for me. Three takes about forty minutes.
9. Invite or make a plan for safe, intimate connection with a loved one (which may or may not involve sex).

10. Make up the saddest song on earth about the terrible plight in which you are mired.
11. Sweep the floors.
12. Make something in the kitchen. Yes, technically, this involves food, but it is the creation of the food that I am advocating here. When you have to create from scratch the food you are wanting to stress-eat, the act of creating slows you down and helps you move into your cognitive mind. Getting out of reptile brain and into big brain is the key to handling stress.
13. Cross something off your to-do list. Just let it go. Say, I really don't need to do that.
14. Declutter one shelf or one drawer.
15. Do jumping jacks.
16. Look at pictures of baby animals. The interwebs are full of them for a reason!

17. Walk up and down the stairs in your building.
18. Draw the country that is you or a map to your dreamlife.
19. Add one thing to your bucket list and do a little research on it.
20. Pick a date for something on your bucket list and start planning. Look forward to it.
21. Make a damage control list. Something happened that triggered this feeling of stress. It is a problem that needs to be solved. Take a little time to brainstorm solutions before you act. Knowing what can or might be done to solve the problem can help you put the problem in better perspective.
22. Say aloud:  This is not the end of the world.
23. Or:  I can handle this.
24. Or:  I can handle this with help from ___________.
25. Growl.
26. Remember your mission. If you have not figured out your mission, do it. Having one sentence in your mind that embodies your reason for being on this earth can be very helpful when you are faced with a problem or making a decision. Your mission can change from time to time as you learn and grow.  Keep it simple. Just answer the question: why am I here on this earth?  I know, this SEEMS difficult and complicated.  But really, you know in your core what you are doing here. Just listen to your belly when you are out on a walk or in the woods or doing something you love doing.  Why are you here on this earth?  First thing that comes to your mind?  Write it down.  Memorize it.  Then, remember it whenever you feel unmoored. My current mission: Open heart, healing hands. And my vision: play more, live outside, love more.

27. Cut your expectations.  For example, you think you need to make a list of 52 things, when really 26 or so will do. A lot of our expectations are arbitrary. Somewhere, we got this idea that we need to do all the dishes every time we do them, or we need to clean a whole room, or we need to spend this amount of money on a gift, or we need to cook a big dinner every day, or we need to read every email in the inbox. The world is not going to end if we don't meet these expectations. In a lot of ways, you get to decide how much time and energy you need to put into any specific task. This is especially true in your own home, but it is also often true at work or school. For people who are high achievers, a lot of stress comes from our own expectations of ourselves, not pressure from others. Oh, we try to convince ourselves that the boss demands it, the customer expects it, the dependent needs it.  But when we are honest, it is really us beating up on ourselves trying to prove that we are okay.  Guess what? You're okay. You don't have to prove it. Get out of your reptile survival brain and be in your rational mind. Take a look at what you truly need and want. Don't take another step in your life without knowing it is a step you are choosing.  It is a step you are taking in this particular direction, this speed, this style because it is your step.

Mine are the scruffy ones second from right.

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