My Top 5 Stress Management Tools

Boy, oh boy, it’s been a crazy couple of months. Three wakes, a funeral, Dad in and out of the hospital every month, navigating family dynamics around that, diving into round two of downsizing in preparation for a move, facing the sadness of leaving dear friends, emotionally preparing to get used to a new community, taking a crash course on the ins and out of planning for and building a tiny house, and wrapping my head around what it will take to live life on the road for a stretch of time. Oh, all while managing my coaching practice.

Phew! No wonder I’m feeling stressed.Stress!

I compartmentalize really well. I tuck each obstacle into its own little box in my mind and take things one at a time.

Sounds ideal, right?

But what happens when you run out of compartments? When your mental clutter runneth over, not so much with projects or tasks, but with the emotions that you’re ignoring as you tend to the to-do list?

My default has always been to shut my emotions down with food. When I feel them surfacing, I give Little Kerri a “treat” to silence her fear, pain, or sadness. However, I’ve learned over the last few years that ice cream is far from a treat — it’s more like duct tape over her mouth, telling her that I don’t want to hear it; that her feelings don’t matter. All that does is make her get louder to get my attention.

This is the first time big stressors have come at me at once since I started my heath journey. I thought I had that emotional eating thing handled. Not so much. Well, I do when things are calm or just mildly tense. This is a whole other level.

So, I’m trying to explore the tools I have in my stress-management toolbox, and dig past the cookies, cupcakes, and chips to see what else is in there.

Here are some things I’ve come up with:

  • Lean on a supportive and loving friend or family member
  • Write in my journal
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Spend time in nature

To be sure I incorporate some of those practices into my day, I’ve set reminders on my phone and made a promise to myself that I’ll stop what I’m doing and take the suggestion that shows up on the screen. For example, one says: “Pause and meditate for five minutes.”  Another says “Spend 10 minutes emptying your brain into your journal.”

I set the reminders to go off during times when I know I’d be able to accept the challenge.

I also have the reminders app send me loving messages throughout the day. In fact, as I’m writing this newsletter, my phone chimed with the note, “Everything is working out just as it should.”

Here’s your Action Steps for the week:

  • Make a list of five things you can do to help manage your stress level.
  • Check your calendar and pick a time where you can do one of the things on your list.
  • Comment below and share how you manage stress, including what tools are in your toolbox.

Until next week, keep taking those steps to Live Out Loud!

 

4 replies
  1. Trisha Walsh
    Trisha Walsh says:

    A new one I am working on is to list out the follow up work items at the end of the day before I log off. I review the next day calendar so I know what to expect. It gives me the chance to leave the work day behind and set my next day priorities. Then I can truly “put it down” so I don’t need to ruminate that night about the next day. It is a work in progress, some days I remember some I don’t – I will set calendar reminder! Thx Kerri!

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Love that idea, Trisha! Plan tomorrow, today. What a great way to more finitely end the work day. Yeah, I’m finding the phone reminders to be super helpful.

      Reply
  2. Mary
    Mary says:

    Hi Kerri,
    Great post with great suggestions! I know for me acknowledging with compassion for myself that “of course I’m stressed…. anyone with all this going on would be too” helps normalize the situation and calm me down a bit.

    Also, being a recovering compulsive overeater, I also try to be extra kind to myself during super stressful times even if I get into emotional eating. (Which I and I believe most people do, but it is not all the time for me anymore) I just acknowledge that I can love myself no matter what and get back on my self loving food plan asap.

    I have been able to maintain 140lb weight loss with this attitude of love & compassion for myself and of course making the course corrections necessary and it has worked wonders.

    Hope your Dad is doing better!
    Hugs,
    Mary

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Mary. That’s a really important point — to remind ourselves that it’s natural to be stressed during times like this. It’s not an inability to handle situations — it’s a bit of a pressure cooker. I think that reminder can help do just what you suggest further on — be kind and compassionate to yourself, particularly when you slide into emotional overeating.

      Congratulations on your maintained weight loss! That’s an incredible accomplishment!

      And thanks for your kind words about my Dad. He is adjusting to dialysis and feeling stronger and stronger every day. <3

      Reply

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