Health is made up of four main components, fitness, healthy eating, sleep, and stress management. For as much is made about the importance on fitness and healthy eating, sleep and stress seem to be neglected in the discussion.
Growing up, I was always tightly wound. I would make an amazing hall monitor because I could detect any rule breakers or sounds or funny business from a mile away. This only magnified itself as I got older and fully embraced the Type A personality. Unfortunately, this also created some health problems that I didn't know were possible from being a stressed out person. The line between hard work and insanity is very fine.
A few years ago I was working long hours and checking my work messages constantly on nights and weekends. I also had started a “side hustle” (which has now become my business), which meant I was working a side job on nights and weekends. The constant feeling of having to be “on” and alert and functioning at a high level took a horrible toll on me. I was exhausted all the time. At the urging of a friend, I went to a doctor who ran a bunch of tests on my cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenal function. To my surprise (but not hers), my cortisol level was low all day – meaning my hormones weren't responding appropriately to the stress I was having, and I had adrenal fatigue. My trainer actually scaled back my workouts as they were causing more stress on my body.
Thankfully I've gotten better about managing my stress, but it's one of the first things I notice slipping. We focus on workouts and eating better to improve fitness, but stress is so vital to manage. With my recent divorce, the stress really got to me and I'm trying to reign it back in without having the crash and burn of before.
My stress-management routine:
Getting my Om on: Yoga has weaved its way in and out of my life throughout the years. Bikram (hot) yoga was the last real practice I had with some regularity. A couple of years ago, I took some private sessions with an instructor and a friend to get me more comfortable with the poses. These days I'm getting my Om on with Rodney Yee in the comfort of my own home. I love his beginners Yoga DVD – the instruction is great and there are 2 workouts. I'm focusing on the 15 minute evening workout as it's focused on relaxation. I have it on my calendar for every workday. If nothing else, it's forcing me to take a computer break, which is healthy in itself!
Protecting the Schedule: This year I want to try extremely hard to protect my schedule. This means using my calendar in a smarter way: clustering appointments together, scheduling errand time, and scheduling personal time (yes, my calendar now has appointments with myself on it). Being self-employed, it's easy to make doctors appointments and such whenever they are available, but it's not realistic. I work just like everyone else does, and I need to protect those hours for myself. Taking a 1:30 haircut on a Tuesday might be possible, but I'll spend the entire time stressing out about missing something with a client. It turns a pleasant experience into one of panic. I resolve to fix that this year!
Saying No: This goes along with protecting the schedule, but I also need to protect my business by not over-extending myself. I generally know within 10 minutes if a project is a good fit for me or not. Instead of trying to justify it to myself to say yes, I need to say no. You can't be all things to all people, and trying to do so will let everyone down. So say it with me…. “NO.” (and “No” is a complete sentence!)
Letting it Out: I'm a master of pushing emotions down. Having #allthefeels? Push them down. Upset about something? Push it down. Problem is: it ends up coming up at some point or another, and when it does, it's worse than if I was to let it out in the first place. So whether I need to cry, talk it out with someone, or write it down in my journal – it has to come out somewhere.
Are you a master of stress management? I'd love to hear your suggestions. Let me know in the comments, and on social media using #MakeYourMove.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl's.