When there's a lot going on, stress can quickly seep into the seams of my life, but I'm doing my very best with what I have, and I wanted to share some strategies for keeping your sanity when there's a lot going on.
So let me back up for a minute, in case you're lost. I leave for a seven week work trip next week. Between now and then, I also have a huge event in Boston I need to do, I have to go to New York this Friday, and I a shoot to film five videos this weekend. Next week, I have various appointments and work commitments to fulfill, and then I need to pack and get myself on a flight to Koh Samui for a work trip and then up to Chiang Mai for our three week training. After that I'm going to Oman for work, and then to Santorini to lead a retreat. Whew. In addition, there are some health issues in my family that are going on (not really my story to tell, but I will say that cancer can go kick rocks as far as I'm concerned), and my brother is saving the day by going out to the midwest this weekend to get my dog since his dad's new job means he has a lot going on right now and needs someone to help with the dog. So, as you can see, there's a lot going on for me. I feel a bit, uh, stressed.
And that's fine, but I know I need to manage it. The interesting thing about stress is that it kickstarts our fight or flight response, which is where you get that panicky, adrenaline-rush feeling pretty much nonstop. Obviously, we need to be able to have these fight or flight responses in our bodies as they help keep us safe and alert us to danger. But we really only need to experience the fight or flight response in small doses. If our lives are full of stress (traffic! errands! meetings! laundry! cooking! homework! class! a hard workout! hot yoga! not enough sleep!) then we are constantly in a fight or flight space, and that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. It taxes our adrenals, it can throw off our hormones, it can trigger depression and anxiety, and the list goes on and on.
That's why I do what I have to do to try to keep that fight or flight response as low as possible. Here are the changes I generally make whenever I am feeling like stress is at an all-time high:
- Meal Delivery Service: Eating well is really important to me, but meal prepping takes time I just don't have lately. I placed an order with Metabolic Meals after trying a friend's meal few weeks ago and just got my first shipment this past week. While this won't be a weekly thing for me upon my return just due to cost (it ain't cheap!) and the fact that I do actually enjoy cooking when I have the time, it is a good quick solution for me when I'm stressed to the max, have very little time, and just need a healthy meal with ingredients I trust. I like that everything they make is grass-fed, organic, and is shipped fresh, not frozen. And, for someone who counts their macros, it's great because the macros are listed right on the label.
- Supplements: I don't take a ton of supplements regularly aside from a probiotic and some collagen and greens, but when I'm stressed and have a lot on my plate, I take adaptogenic herbs. They're supposed to help support the adrenals during times of stress.
- Taking time to eat: I might be pressed for time these days, but that doesn't mean I'm going to eat on the run. When it comes to meals, I sit down, and try to get myself into a parasympathetic state by taking a few deep breaths. When you're stressed, your body is in a sympathetic state which essentially means your digestion isn't going to be great. If you're stressed when you're eating, your body physically cannot properly absorb the nutrients you're feeding it. Therefore, if you're trying to lose weight and are eating all the right foods but still are not seeing fat loss, this might be one of the reasons why. If you're having digestive issues, but you know your gut health is on point, this might be the culprit. Take the time to calm yourself before you eat. You're worth it.
- Self Care: I try to pay extra attention to what my body is telling me instead of focusing on the stress and ignoring the signs that things are off. When I am feeling run down and tired, I try to do the little things to take care of myself. I try to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. I try to limit the hiit style of workouts I normally do because they're a stressor to the body. Normally that's ok because my life outside the gym is usually pretty stress-free, but when things get outta whack, I cut back on the strenuous workouts and vigorous yoga practices. Instead, I go lighter, do less, and practice restorative styles of yoga like yin. I try to sleep a little bit more to help my body recover from the added stress, and I try to do things I enjoy (baths, reading, hiking) to inject a little more joy into my life.
- Connect with Friends and Family: Nothing lifts me up more than spending quality time with friends and family, so in times of stress, I try extra hard to find the time to visit, and really be present. This past weekend was great - I got to see some family at a cousin's birthday party, and see my dad on Father's Day and spend time with even more family at a 50th anniversary party.
- Less Screen Time: I'll just come out and say it. If I didn't have a business, I would delete instagram, facebook, and all the other social apps. I don't know if it's the apps themselves or the blue light from the screen, but I find that the phone stresses me out even more when I've got a lot on my plate. So what I do is I'll turn my phone off completely at night, and keep it in the other room during the day to cut down on checking it all the time.
- Have something to look forward to: Another thing I like to do is have something to look forward to. A part of me hates this because it makes me feel like I'm not quite living in the moment, but it is what it is. One of the things I'm planning on doing this fall, after the Namaslay® 2.0 Tour, is take a little vacation. Like, an actual vacation. Not a scouting trip. Not a retreat. Not a teaching gig. A vacation. My dream would be no phone, no computer, no connection whatsoever. I want to go out into the wild and just enjoy the moment off the grid.
- Reminder: The final thing I do is remind myself that all the things will, eventually, get done. All the important stuff always gets done anyway. There's really no need to stress or worry about it. One thing at a time.
I'd love to hear what your strategies are when you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out. Let me know down in the comments section below.