Day Twelve: Stress

Today is a rest day for squats and crunches. So I did my 15 pushups in groups of 5 because my shoulder is a little tender. I decided, based on how it was feeling, to wait before attempting the plank.

For breakfast, I had three eggs. Yummy. Then it was back to work for another week. I survived another weekend without missing my exercises or breaking from Whole30. In fact, I had few temptations this weekend which was extremely helpful.

I made sure to do my stretches when I got to work to keep myself going. I did do them before I did my pushups. I did not notice a difference in how my body reacted to it.

For lunch, I had the last of my cooked balsamic chicken. It was really quite good. I paired it with some spinach, raspberries, celery, blueberries and cherry tomatoes. All in all, I think it was a very fulfilling lunch.

After that, it was time to attempt the 1 minute and 30 second plank. With the help of two of my coworkers, I got ready and stayed up for the whole time. I was so impressed. By the end, I was almost in tears, but I stayed up. Hopefully, it will get better. I figure I should always do the plank with someone around to do the timing for me which allows me to focus on the plank.

My Whole30 email today was about stress, something that I have a lot of. It does not seem to matter what I try to do to rid myself of the stress, it just seems to stick. The email explained how stress wrecks havoc on the mind and body and what it means to be a stress junkie. The first step is admitting you have a problem. My name is Jessica and I am a stress junkie.

It also provided some strategies to help cope with all that stress:

  • Identify your triggers, change your habits. Take time to figure out what precipitates stress in your life. Ask family and friends to help you here, as you often aren’t a good judge of your own triggers.
  • Control and predictability – create a routine. Procrastination, multi-tasking and chasing your own tail self-perpetuates the stress cycle. Creating (and sticking to) a routine can to add some predictability to your day, and remove some opportunity for unexpected stress.
  • Exercise some, not too much. Low intensity exercise (like hiking or swimming) blunts the stress response for up to a day after each session – but it has to be something you want to do. (Forcing yourself to exercise only creates more stress.)
  • Don’t (purposely) fast. Deliberate caloric restriction and extended (or regular) fasting provokes a physical stress response, and only adds to your overall stress burden.
  • Skip the coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant, and the last thing you need is more stimulation.
  • Meditation – sort of. Studies show psychological benefits while someone is meditating – but those benefits don’t necessarily continue after the session is over.
  • Social support – try giving. The right network of friends or family can help you manage stress, but often the stress junkie simply won’t ask for help. So try giving – offering social support in a volunteer or charitable setting.
  • The E – R – C strategy. Make a list of stressors, and identify those you can Eliminate, those you could Reduce and those you must simply Cope with.
  • Practice the 80/20 rule. In the case of stress, take the 80/20 rule to mean that 80% of your stress reduction can be accomplished with the first 20% of effort.
  • Get help. Sometimes, working through your situation with an impartial party is exactly what we need to put things into perspective.

I found this photo in the email and loved it! Enjoy a little laughter today! The following are strategies to help you find your happy place!

  • Laugh out loud. A good long laugh not only reduces stress, it can also stimulate circulation, help relieve pain, and fight illness.
  • Eat breakfast. A study out of the MindLab in England showed that participants who ate breakfast had an 89% drop in anxiety when faced with a hard task.
  • Pet your dog or cat. Research shows that petting your furry friends releases hormones that not only make people happy but also decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. – Olivia prepare to be pet a lot.
  • Listen to music. In particular slow, classical music. Or Gregorian chant. But any music you like and find relaxing can serve as a distraction and, if you want to take it a step further, making your own music is proven to brighten one’s mood and reduce depressive symptoms.
  • Drink tea. Akin to petting your pup, drinking tea is shown to reduce cortisol levels. The warm, liquidy goodness also increases people’s perception of relaxation.
  • Breathe. By practicing deep breathing you can train the body to react differently in stressful situations. There is even some research that suggests regular deep breathing can even change you at the most basic level by altering gene expression.
  • Be kind. Consciously engaging in acts of kindness releases endorphins making us feel happy, full of energy, and optimistic. In turn, these feelings create a sense of well-being that helps us to be calmer and focus in stressful situations.
  • Take a walk. Research has shown that as little as 20-30 minutes of walking can have similar effects as taking a mild-tranquilizer. Much like kindness, walking creates an endorphins-happiness-well-being-calmness effect.
  • Turn off your computer. Researchers from the University of California had study participants wear a heart monitor as they worked on their computers. One group of participants used their computers as they normally would and the other group was to abstain from using their email. The group that did not check their email had a lower heart rate, reported a great sense of relief at not needing to check their email, were more physically active during the work day, and were also more social.
  • Read. Just six minutes of quiet reading can reduce your stress by 68% by slowing down you heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles and heart.

For supper, I rushed down some of my left over chicken from last night and then it was off to my English class. Speaking of which, I got a 75% on my mid-term exam in that class. It was an average mark based on what the professor said (highest was 84%, lowest was in the low 60’s). I brought celery sticks to tide me over until I could get home and eat something with a bit more to it.

At the university, I walked up the four flights of stairs again and walked down them at the end of class. I also finished a whole 600 ml of water in the first half of the class. Then I was thirsty.

Until tomorrow, my devoted readers!


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