Coping with stress and huge life changes can be extremely challenging as our lives can quickly spin out of control in this zany world we live in. We are pulled in so many directions, expecting more and more of ourselves (as we feel others expect an ever-increasing amount out of us). Businesses are running lean and mean and focusing on newer, more efficient ways to do handle transactions which can leave you feeling as if you handle the workload of multiple people at the end of the day!
This is precisely why taking a moment out for yourself is more important than ever, particularly for those of us who used to use food as a way of coping with stress before bariatric surgery. And the great news is that we have more resources than we’ve ever had to unwind and get in touch with ourselves when things get hairy. My experience has been that I actually live a higher quality life when I make some “me” time on a regular basis, not just when I’m feeling overextended. Of course, one might say that this is easier said than done. With a very long commute into the work place each day, I’ve tried to get creative with my time to maximize my “me” time opportunities.
One of the best things I ever did for myself was get a membership to an online audiobook distributor. Having this has allowed me the opportunity to listen to a myriad of audiobooks on my MP3 player during my two- to three-hour commute each day. A great distributor will give you a free, trial membership so you can see if you like their product, and they usually have tens of thousands of audiobooks, lectures and all sorts of things to listen to. I also have used that time commuting to brush up on other languages I wanted to learn, and to catch up on some of the fabulous podcasts that are out there, most of which are free! May I recommend the Nutrition Diva from the Quick and Dirty network of podcasters? She’s got a wealth of information tucked under her health belt!
Another way I’ve captured a little time for myself is to actually take my lunch to work, find an office or conference room that isn’t being used when it’s time for me to take a break, and I jump in, shut the door, turn off the lights, set the timer on my phone and drift off into about a twenty-five minute meditation. Some people prefer to meditate without guidance, some with guidance, some with music alone and some people (like me) enjoy listening to binaural beats during meditation. If you’re interested, but there are loads of great meditation resources out there. Just grab your headphones and MP3 player on the way out the door before you start your day and you’re set! I often find that this midday reset feels terrific and there’s usually still time to nosh on something yummy I’ve brought from home for lunch (and it’s a terrific money saver, too)!
Lastly, on Friday nights, my finance and I always enjoy “Italian Date Night” which consists of delicious Italian food together at home. It’s become a tradition for us (yes, you can still eat delicious, Italian food after bariatric surgery!). Afterwards we try to make it a habit of dancing in the living room to fun music. If you can picture this in your head, then I’ll go ahead and apologize now. Seriously, today there are so many fun “games” on the market for anyone interested in shedding some serious calories and simultaneously reliving stress, it’s amazing! One of our favorites is something we recently purchased for the Xbox 360 called “Dance Central.” Any kind of working out indoors is beneficial during what can be the most biting of winter months.
Maintaining a low level of stress in my life and not falling into the old habits I used to have in using food to cope with the stress has been an ongoing challenge for me. But having tools to deal with it which was jump-started with the surgery, has been key for me. It’s my hope that you find the same for your life!