When life delivers difficult situations, you must learn to find your balance and stay on track.
Today, I want to share a personal experience with you – one that involves a stressful situation where I found myself hardly eating and being inactive for several days. It made me realize what an impact emotional wellness has on our health and fitness goals. We need fuel, we need to be active and we need to find balance, even when life poses challenges.
I’m always the first to tell people that being active will boost your positive emotions during times of stress; however, I found myself in a situation where I wasn’t following my own advice.
I didn’t even realize I wasn’t being active until my daughter asked me why I hadn’t been dragging them on a family walk with the dogs and why my yoga mat and weights weren’t in the family room (they usually take up space). Her concerned tone made me jump up, get my three other kids ready, put leashes on the dogs, pack some healthy snacks and go on our family walk.
We were out for three hours and, I must admit, our family walk made me feel less stressed. I realized that it was time for me to follow my own advice and write some tips on how to keep balanced during challenging times. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to lead by example and show my children that you must get outside and be active, even during times of stress.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gotten off track due to stress, so I want to share some ways to tackle emotional stress without taking it out on the body. First, ask yourself some questions to help you keep your health and fitness goals on track:
- What is your go-to safety mechanism when dealing with a stressful or emotional situation?
- Are you a stress eater or someone who fasts during times of stress?
- Do you sit around or do you exercise to keep your mind off the issue at hand?
I have been at all ends of the spectrum when it comes to how emotions have affected my body and exercise habits. When I was balancing my young triplets and a toddler, I found myself reaching for sweet foods and coffee to make me feel better. It led to weight gain and a lack in confidence. During times of emotional stress, I find that I don’t eat enough. My reason for writing a fitness post about feelings is because life often throws us stressful situations. How you deal with them can truly impact your health, your weight and your fitness goals.
How to Get the Stress Out
Keep a list
Writing out a to-do list is a great way to make sure you accomplish all of your tasks. Checking things off your list will also make you feel good and ensure you don’t add any more stress by dropping your responsibilities. Even if your mind is preoccupied, your to-do list will ensure you don’t forget things.
Plan your meals
I’ve found that planning meals in advance can mean that you don’t find reasons to skip eating or reach for junk food. Put grocery shopping on your to-do list and fill your list with loads of fruits and veggies. It’s essential for your body to get proper fuel during stressful times.
Plan fun activities
Looking forward to something can help boost your mood. It can be something as simple as a yoga class or a bowling night with friends or family. Just as long as you plan to get out of the house for a little while, it can make a difference in the way you feel.
Make time for a walk
Whether you’re at home or at the office, schedule regular walking breaks. Not only is it a way to clear your mind and get some fresh air, it’s the perfect way to get active when you have other things on your mind.
Spend active time with friends and family
Spending time with loved ones during stressful times may help keep your mind off the root of the problem. Active time is much better than simply sitting around because it’s less of an opportunity to start snacking or pondering unhelpful thoughts. Spending time with loved ones will also give you the emotional support you need during difficult times.
Avoid unhealthy snacks
Eating sugary foods will only give you a temporary feel-good moment. The extra sugar in your system may temporarily boost your energy levels, but it’s always followed by a crash. My advice is to snack on healthy protein-rich foods.
I hope you can use some of my tips to help stay on track next time you have a stressful situation. Your emotional well-being is just as important as your physical health. The two seem to be linked pretty closely, so be aware of your actions and try to protect your health.
Samantha Clayton, OLY, ISSA-CPT
Vice President, Sports Performance and Fitness