The Less Stress Action Plan
By Carolyn Richardson
When life happens, sticking to healthy decisions about food and exercise gets much harder. “Treating” yourself with food could derail your healthy lifestyle and take a toll on your well-being. Altering your body's need for exercise can also be detrimental. Getting past the urge to give up means finding ways to fight back. You won’t always win the battle, but with practice and more awareness you can at least make some progress in getting past stressful times. Move towards a less stressed you by asking yourself the following:
Less Stress Questions
What you are willing to sacrifice to change things for the better?
How can you handle certain situations differently?
What home or work environment activities support healthy habits?
What routines could you modify or eliminate to lessen negative habits?
After answering these crucial questions, create an action plan to tackle stress with a solution-based focus. Feelings of hopelessness and lack of control may contribute to bad eating decisions, but by knowing your plan of attack, you can divert your energy to making positive change rather than wallowing in negative emotions.
Jarring, unexpected events aren’t the only ones that cause stress that may throw you off. It’s daily stressors like work, money, or family conflicts that are the real enemy of maintaining healthy habits. You can’t control others’ lives, so taking steps to lessen their impact should be a top priority. Use time you’d normally use on eating out, watching TV, or on social media by de-stressing. Start by reclaiming at least an hour every day of time for you. What you choose to do with this time has to be tied to answering or correcting the less stress questions and should also be physically and mentally rewarding. A notebook of goals, a goal picture of yourself, or positive affirmations are all good to work on to remind yourself of the vision. This routine may also help you stave off impulse food decisions.
Preparation to de-stress means thinking through your decisions. It’s not enough to hope for change. Channel the extra energy of stress into ways to make improvements in your life. This will help you see positivity, even when certain stressors can’t be removed. Should you see a financial advisor to plan a debt reduction? Can you downsize or move closer to work to lessen a long commute? Is there a solution to a common family argument? Seek out counseling or support as to how you can build the skills or expertise you need to make things better. By continually making well-informed decisions, you may find it easier to practice healthy habits like cooking, exercising, and planning meals.
Lowering your stress levels doesn't mean grinning and bearing it. It’s not about accommodating or folding to others' desires, but rather finding ways to see an end to things that are weighing you down. This may mean doing something others may not approve of. Push past feelings of complacency or depriving your own desires by speaking up about your needs, and doing what you feel is best for you. Don’t let how other people feel about your decision to change deter you from finding a happier you. You’ll be a better support to them when you feel your life is fulfilled.
How do you keep the stress of life at bay?