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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Hendrickson

How Do You Cope?

How do you cope with stress? Stress, something that runs rampant in our lives that we seemingly have no control over. Stress is stress, right? There is no eliminating it from our lives. It comes at us from our work, our kids, our family, and a myriad of other places in our our everyday comings and goings. Sometimes it's self inflicted, and sometimes it is thrown at us by society's standards and expectations. Can we get rid of stress in our lives? Probably not unless you are willing to go live by yourself on an island (which sounds great sometimes). Realistically though, stress is unavoidable. Knowing that, we need to find ways to cope with stress. Life should be about thriving, not just surviving.

So how do you cope with stress? The most common coping mechanisms of dealing with stress are alcohol, smoking, coffee, sugar, poor eating, busyness, and avoidance. While these activities may help in the short term, they aren't really a long term solution to effectively managing stress.

In order to successfully manage stress, we need to find coping mechanisms that help us identify the stress, recognize it, and effectively deal with it. Alcohol, smoking, coffee, and sugar are things that help us suppress stress so we don't have to deal with it. Putting these things in our body help to relax us, but they don't help to actually deal with the stress. The stress is still in our bodies, just pushed down a little lower, to make room for more. Eventually the stress will boil over and we are inevitably headed for a breakdown caused by burn out.

Living in a constant state of stress has detrimental consequences for us and our body. it keeps our body in a fight or flight state which is a key contributor to chronic health issues, sleep problems, weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, as well as mental issues like anxiety which can in turn lead to depression.

Again, it's not realistic to think we will live our days without any stress, but if we can live more of our life in a state of rest and digest instead of fight and flight we would be much healthier then we are now. The foods we eat are huge contributors to our stress and anxiety levels. We eat sugar to cope with stress, but it's also one of the main things that put us in a state of anxiety. It' a viscous cycle that we aren't even aware of, so we aren't able to stop it. Making healthy food choices will help us manage our stress.

Another way to help cope with stress is how we spend our down time. Are we doing activities that help us encourage our mind and body to rest, or are we engaging in activities that trick us into thinking we are resting? Alcohol is a trick. It makes us feel relaxed, and less stressed, but because it is altering our brain, we aren't consciously resting and healing our mind and body, instead we are pushing it down and avoiding it with alcohol.

Activities that encourage our body into rest and digest are deep breathing, moments in our lives where we have nothing planned or scheduled, being in nature, taking a break from technology, and meditation.

Meditation can be a controversial subject. Some people love it, and some people cringe when they hear this word. I was someone who cringed when they heard this word. I thought it was weird, and honestly I had this idea that it was against my faith. I have since found out this is the farthest thing from the truth. For me, meditation is a time to sit in quiet, to be present in my thoughts and to drown out the world. It's a time to look inwardly to take inventory of my stress and what's going on with my life. That's the only way I can identify, become mindful of my stress, and recognize any changes I need to make to take the steps to make those changes. When I'm stressed, I head right back in to my closet to sit, quiet the world around me and take care of myself. This is truly the definition of self-care.

So how's your stress level? How do you cope with stress? Do you avoid and suppress your stress, or do you have creative ways to deal with stress? Do you feed your body the best foods to help you manage stress, or are you stuck in the cycle of coffee, sugar, and alcohol? Would you be willing to try something new when it comes to managing stress? Even if meditation scares you a bit, would you be willing to try something different? I always tell my kids, if you want a different outcome you need to try something new. Stop doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Are you wiling to try something new to get the life of thriving instead of just surviving?

Join us Monday, June 21st at 5:30pm for our Stress Management and Meditation Seminar. I have given this a few times, but in a very stressful world, this seminar is needed more then ever. This is a live seminar at Inspire Pilates Studio. $12 tor register. Don't miss this opportunity to make a change in your life to help you live the best version of yourself!

Check out some great recipes that will help reduce your sugar intake which in turn will reduce stress and anxiety. Breakfast is usually an area that we get a lot of sugar. It's not a good way to start our day because then we start the day in a cycle of sugar and stress. By eating a healthy breakfast, low in sugar, and high in fiber, it can help reduce stress and anxiety for the entire day.

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