It’s tax season, so this week, Adee is addressing important questions about stress management, mindfulness and meditation. Let’s de-stress!
Q: I have a bad habit of binge eating when stressed. How else can I manage stress?
A: You’re trying to achieve a goal, so you need to participate in behaviors that bring you closer to that goal. When we find ourselves exhibiting behaviors that won’t bring us closer to our goal, we need to correct them. It’s happened to all of us: One moment we’re on track, and the next, we find ourselves in the kitchen holding a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other. So we take notice and start asking ourselves “Why am I” questions. Maybe the answer is stress. Maybe there’s no real food in the house. Maybe dinner just didn’t taste good, and that ice cream is so much better and more convenient. Instead of focusing on the whys, catch yourself and call out your weakness. In that moment you can snap back to reality and take action that will lead to progress! Put that ice cream back in the freezer. (Throw it in the garbage if you have to.) Grab some vegetables. Taking action in those moments will be the key to using a different strategy to manage your stress, other than food.
Q: How can I mentally relax and get comfortable to avoid using food for comfort?
A: Relaxing is a very subjective activity. For example, some may find going for a hike relaxing, while others may prefer a warm bath to relax. Try out different activities to find what helps you most. In many scenarios, technology can be a source of stress. So my number one tip: be around people you love and trust, and completely disconnect from technology. Log out of those social media apps and your email account. Take the time to be present and in the moment. Just do something for yourself. My favorite way to relax is turning on some music and creating wood-burning art. You can see some of my work by following sweetd.tangles on Instagram.
Q: Why is WAG a big advocate of meditation?
A: My husband, Michael Cazayoux, taught me that meditation can have a profound effect on our lives. When I noticed the benefits he received from meditating, I incorporated the practice into my own life and I’ve seen a tremendous increase in my ability to manage stress. Here’s the thing, though—meditation is a practice. You won’t likely see an instant-gratification type of result, but instead, gradual changes over the course of time as you practice.
The goal of meditation is to increase the space between a circumstance and a thought. For example, in our lives we have circumstances, followed by an automatic thought, which leads to an emotion, a behavior and a result. The bigger the gap between the circumstance and the thought, the greater chance you have to choose that thought, affecting the emotion, behavior and result.
Since hypotheticals are often difficult to understand, let me illustrate with a concrete example. Here’s the circumstance: My husband Michael tells me he will be home at 8:00 p.m. and we’ll watch a movie together. Then, at 8:00 p.m. he doesn’t show up. Here’s the immediate thought: He doesn’t care about me. He didn’t even text me and I’m just sitting here waiting for him. This thought leads me to an emotion: upset, unhappy or frustrated. This emotion leads me to a behavior: maybe when he does walk through the door he sees I’m angry with him. This behavior then leads to a result: a disconnect from him and the ruin of our entire evening. But let’s back up. When he doesn’t arrive at 8:00 p.m., I don’t really know the reality of the circumstance. And if I take the time to increase the gap between the circumstance and my immediate thought, I have a chance to choose my thoughts: Maybe he made a pit-stop to pick up a bouquet of flowers for me to make me happy. Maybe he’s stuck in traffic. That gap, these thoughts, lead to more positive results and allow me to control my own stress.
A final thought about meditation: we’ve all been there. We’re sitting in meditation trying to quiet the mind, but the noise keeps coming and we think “This is a waste of time.” But meditation is not about silence; it’s really about practice. It’s just like in the gym; if you want to increase your squat, you have to get your reps in. While meditating, every time you bring your attention back to your breathing and body is another rep. Think about the process that way and you’ll fall in love with the practice, enjoying minutes of silence every single day. If you’ve never meditated before, try downloading the app Headspace. It’s a great guided meditation app that will walk you through the whole process. If you’re already familiar with meditation or you don’t want to pay for the Headspace app, check out the free insight timer so you can track your meditation days!
I hope you know that YOU are in control of your stress. Management may not happen overnight and you may not find instant gratification like when you hit that PR snatch in the gym, but by using some of the recommended strategies over time you’ll see positive results, I promise.
If you still have questions about stress management or meditation, add them in the comments and I’ll address them in an upcoming blog!