Stressorexia: How to deal with stress in a healthy way

skinny girl

Some people stress eat; I stress starve.  In the last month I’ve lost 5 pounds and my butt that I worked so hard to create.  I’m still stronger and faster than I used to be, but I’ve whittled down a few inches and none of my clothes fit properly.  Loosing weight may sound great to some people, but the speed at which I’ve dropped pounds is a red flag.  Everyone is different; I was proud of the 10 pound drop since this time last year, but for someone my size 5 LB’s in 4 weeks is drastic and indicative of a bigger problem.

Enter:  the J-O-B.  I’ve undergone some stress lately and am in a position of uncertainty within my company and my career.  Some people grab the ice cream at the end of the day, but my stomach churns in a tight little ball and adrenaline and other hormones (i.e. cortisol) turn what was once an efficient calorie burning and consuming machine to a supercharged, full speed ahead, take no prisoners persona with a penchant for skipping meals.  Just have to finish this report… then I’ll eat lunch.  Oh crap, it’s 2 PM and I haven’t eaten since breakfast.  Done with yoga, but too tired to think about eating at the end of the day.  Traveling 80% of the time so all meals are eaten out and the fridge is empty when I finally have some time at home.

SIDE EFFECTS OF STRESS

  • PHYSICAL EFFECTS:  high blood pressure, stress headaches, and muscle tension
  • MENTAL EFFECTS:  brain function adversely affected by restlessness, anxiety, or lack of focus
  • more PHYSICAL EFFECTS:  problems sleeping, stomach upset (<–THIS IS ME, RIGHT HERE!)
  • NEGATIVE COPING MECHANISMS:  i.e. over/under eating, solace in a bottle/pill/chemical mixture of some sort, taking it out on relationships and people close to you

 

HEALTHY WAYS TO DEAL

  • CLEAR YOUR HEAD.  TGFY – thank goodness for yoga:  Meditation, stillness, reflection at the end of the day is SO IMPORTANT.  Tell your mind to shut up for a minute.  Yoga is mine, what’s yours?  Taking the dog on a walk?  A long shower?  Know yourself and find something that works for you.
  • ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE – take the time to count your blessings.  There is always someone out there who has it worse and is handling it better.  (My quote of the week:  Do you have 10 fingers? 10 toes?  Are you breathing?  Then it’s a good day)
  • TAKE A WALK.  I had a moment where I had to literally step out of the office and take a walk outside.  A couple of flights of stairs and fresh air (albeit HUMID) can make all the difference in getting your mind right and getting your emotions (and your hormones) in check.  Let epinephrine (adrenaline or “fight or flight” hormone) take a back seat to serotonin (regulates mood – released via sunlight, good carbs, and exercise).
  • VENT to a close friend.  Yeah that’s right.  Not a 90 minute bitch-a-thon but have someone you trust who will listen.  Know that sometimes you want advice, sometimes you want to be defended, and sometimes you just need to let it out
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Still eat right (protein helps with the release of dopamine – another feel-good hormone).  Still exercise (releases endorphins which help REDUCE anxiety).  After a long shitty day, the gym is neutral.  After the gym, my gait is lighter, my mood is improved, and the clouds that followed me around all day have lifted.  Sometimes getting there is the hardest part, but I never regret a workout.

How do you deal with stress?

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3 thoughts on “Stressorexia: How to deal with stress in a healthy way

  1. Nice tips Dena. I was 175 lbs last year this time (from 230 lbs 2 yrs ago). Perfect weight for my 6′. However, due to sciatica (back pain with leg pain), I went through lot of stress for about
    1 yr. I couldn’t exercise due to pain. Also, I had mental distress about – how long this will last ?. In the last 3 months, I ate too much and gained 20 lbs in 3 months. None of my pants fit now :-). Luckily my pain went away due to very good medication called Lyrica.
    I am able to due to exercise now just like before. I lost 7 lbs in last month. Goal is to loose 20 lbs in 3 months. Things that also helped are

    1. CBT. Cognitive therapy. Our thoughts create stress. Not the outside circumstances.
    Accept everything unconditionally. There is a nice book called ‘Feeling good’
    2. Buddhist Meditation – This is hard and takes time but you will touch that peace.
    3. Exercise – 30 minutes with headphones. Listen to inspirational talks. Swimming helps.
    4. Count your blessings (you mentioned above) helped me.

    • 1. Sleeping: because of my job’s demands I slept up to five hours only which resulted with chronic fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration. Now I endeavor to go to bed before midnight and sleep at least 6 hours and also to take a nap in the afternoon. But I disagree with those who say that one should sleep nine hours or even longer. If you spend your life asleep what is your life’s purpose?
      2. Yoga: I have been practising some yogic breathing and concentration exercises. They are not only tools against stress but are also of general usefullness.
      3. Recreation: with favourite music. I find your videos on YouTube very helpful.

      • Awesome tips! Thanks for watching my videos 🙂

        As for sleeping, everyone’s needs are different. I find 7-8 hours is perfect for me, but others can function on 4-5. Lucky folks!

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