So a while back I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to look at my stress triggers and what my stress responses tend to be. This activity has been particularly challenging for me, because looking inward isn’t always one of my strong suits – I think this might be an challenge many people are faced with. But as a part of my training, I agreed to give it ago and to look at what I am doing in moments of stress; do I eat, cry, scream, smoke, drink, run, sleep? How do I respond to stress?
Originally this was going to be a little personal journey I was having a tough time so I figured I wouldn’t have much to share but then yesterday while sitting at work thinking of everything I have planned for December and everything I still have to do before going to Edmonton at Christmas I was completely consumed with anxiety. It felt overwhelming like there weren’t enough hours in a day (even though there definitely are) but this lead me to thinking that maybe it might be helpful to share what I have learnt about myself in past couple of months when it comes to stress.
Firstly I have learnt that there are so many “triggers” in life it is actually easier to focus in on what my stress responses are. From that I have identified three main stress responses, one is pretty healthy and the other two compete for unhealthiest (perhaps you can help decide), so here they are:
My number 1 stress response is to avoidance. To completely retreat from everything, stop doing anything that needs to be done. I know this sounds irrational but stress responses aren’t always the most rational things in life. So basically I try and hide in my bed, on the couch, basically anywhere I feel that there may not be any expectations of me, I think I am hoping magical fairies will take care of whatever needs to get done for me. This stress response hasn’t been such a successful tactic in the past, I’m looking at you multiple years of university and last minute essay writing – shutters.
My number 2 isn’t triggered right away, it takes a bit for it to sink in, but then my logical half speaks up and tells me to do something active. Without running, yoga, weights, or sweating in general I become a pretty unpleasant person to live with (ask my husband, although I am sure he will tell you what a pleasure I am). I find that running especially helps with any frustration type stress, as I often find it to be more of an aggressive workout.
My number 3 is carbs carbs carbs and more carbs, with a side of cheese. I will start craving a delicious poutine (this is French fries, cheese and gravy for my non-Canadian friends), a whole family sized baguette with a wheel of brie, a massive lasagna, or anything else layered with carbs, dairy and fat. Heck I once ate pancakes rolled up with cheese and peanut butter inside. if G.I. Joe has taught me anything “knowing is half the battle”, and I know this isn’t the most healthy response so I do attempt some self talk before indulging. I try to slow down a little and ask myself if I really “need” a poutine, sometimes this works sometimes I eat a poutine.
So these are my number three responses. I also do other things like act a little irrationally or burst into tears at the drop of a hat, but these are my top three stress responses. From my homework assignments from the personal training, I have been able to recognize what is going on instead of just going through with whatever impulse I feel at the time. I am starting to learn to pump the breaks a bit and take a step back. But mostly I have learnt that you can’t control feeling stressed but you can make a choice about how you respond to that stress.
I think it is important to point out that I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, so no I don’t always go out for a run, or perform some type of physical activity instead of stuffing my face or sleeping a day away, but I am definitely less likely to do so now that I am aware of what I am doing. I have found that paying attention to my internal queues has helped me approach this whole health and fitness deal with a bit more mindfulness and confidence.
How do you deal with stress?
Happy Thursday everyone!