How to deal with STRESS


Is it just me or does everybody seem more than a little stressed out right now?   The world economy is struggling and we’re all more concerned about the state of our finances than we used to be. This stress can manifest itself in any number of ways; not least in how we choose to let it affect the way we treat ourselves and our bodies.

After a stressful day in the office it may be even more tempting to go and drown our sorrows in the local bar instead of hauling ass to the gym.  A few more glasses of wine than usual, or a fat laden takeout might take the edge off our sharpest concerns but it’s a temporary relief and all our worries are still there in the morning, only now they’re accompanied by a hangover, indigestion or bloated remorse. 

Apparently I have a very calm exterior: maybe it’s the English ‘stiff upper lip’ 🙂  Some people who know me personally are visibly surprised when I admit to being prone to anxiety.  When I was younger this anxiety would present itself in debilitating full-scale panic attacks, thankfully those days are long gone but the lessons that I learnt to be able to deal with them still hold true for me today.

I always try to stay focused on the immediate present.  Futurizing can very quickly lead to catastrophizing. Here’s an example of catastrophizing; don’t worry I got permission to use this 🙂  Lacey came home in the middle of the day today because the gym headset was broken so she needed to get her personal one.  Already stressed out about her heel injury, she started to worry that she wouldn’t be able to teach as much, which escalated into a panic about not making enough money for us to have kids in the future.  Just for good measure she decided to freak out that when we did have kids she would have to be at work all the time, never get to see them and that our children wouldn’t love her. Yep, she took it there and that’s called catastrophizing 🙂

When we are already pushed so far out of our comfort zone it can be hard to imagine any of the multitude of POSITIVE outcomes that there are sure to be as well.  Instead, think about whether your worry has actually happened. In this very moment, is there a crisis?  If yes, then what’s the first small thing we can do to start to alleviate it a little?  If no, then think if there is something that could make us feel a little more prepared; less vulnerable, should it happen?  Focus on today. 

So Lacey and I talked it out (I’d just flown back from a job in LA), and by breaking it down she was able to see that; as of right now her heel is feeling better and will heal if she continues to treat it right, that her career will not be negatively impacted by this and is actually inspiring her to incorporate some new ideas and innovations into what she does.  She reminded herself that we were not planning on having children for a good 3-5 years and that many things can and will evolve before that: That our children would not be lacking for love, support, encouragement or anything else, that I would be there financially, and in every other respect: and finally that she would adore her children and they’d adore her right back. I’m biased, but it’s very hard not too 🙂

However bad the situation we find ourselves in, I always work hard to remind myself that NO situation is best managed from a state of panic.  The best, most effective, most comforting and assertive actions come from breathing deeply and evenly.  Remember to breathe.  Sometimes in the middle of a hard day I find my inner voice telling me to “Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.”  It’s unbelievable how such a simple action can help clear my brain from the fog of panic.

Lastly I always refer back to an acronym that I learnt when I first went into recovery. H.A.L.T.  It was taught to me in the context of not “picking up” which refers to resorting back to my abuse of drugs or food to cope with life, BUT I think it holds incredibly true when it comes to handling stress in the most productive way possible.

“Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.”

Eat nutritious food that supports your immune system and helps you power through the tough times.  Express your anger appropriately and honestly to the RIGHT person, or failing that the heavy boxing bag at the gym!  Don’t suffer through your stress in isolation; share your feelings with a friend, talk it out with your therapist, call your mom, anything but let it swirl around your head until you feel crazy.  And finally, I can’t tell you how important I believe being well rested is for dealing with stress well.  Try turning the TV off an hour earlier so your brain has time to calm itself before bed, try to go to bed at the same time every night, limit stimulants like caffeine after mid-afternoon.

Stress is unavoidable in this modern day world, but in learning how to protect ourselves from its worst effects we empower ourselves beyond measure 🙂

Do any of you have some stress-busting strategies that work well for you? 



13 Responses to “How to deal with STRESS”

  1. 1 jen
    November 19, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    I love relaxing in a hot bubble bath before bed after a stressful day 🙂

  2. 2 kate
    November 20, 2008 at 3:34 am

    you girls have CLEARLY found something so special in each other. Your blogs are great! I wish you both the utmost happiness and most of all PASSION for a LIFETIME. What could possibly be a better gift than passion?

  3. 3 Rach
    November 20, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Go horse riding! I find riding my horses helps relieves stress, it takes your mind off whatever is bothering you and it’s good exercise. What could be better?!

  4. 4 Maria
    November 20, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Some months ago I had a really stressfull time at university. I started to have a private evening every week, where I could be as egocentric and relaxed as I wanted, it was holy to me. I would go to yoga classes, make myself some really good food, watch my favourite webseries, read something and go to bed. 🙂

  5. 5 Joa
    November 20, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Honestly, working out is the most amazing catharsis. When I’m stressed, it usually takes every. single. thing. in me to get to the gym (I’d much rather cry and eat some banana bread), but I find that those are typically my BEST workouts and I walk out of the gym feeling like a million bucks and having settled things in my mind.

  6. 6 Rebecca
    November 20, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Honest & helpul post as always.

    Lacy hope you feel better soon. As for your future kids not loving you cause you need to work is simply unnecessary stress. I have a beautiful daughter in the first grade I have always been a career type of girl. I have worked around her schedule so I can be there for her. I am always there to take her off the school bus, do homework, cook dinner, quality time and put her to sleep. If you can’t work around it your child wont hate you for having a babysitter a few hours a day. I don’t think it makes a kid happier if their mom is a stay at home mom who is lazy, lonely, sad, angry and bitchy. Children are smarter then you think so if you are happy and show love and care those hours when you’re around it wont kill them.
    I have many friends who decide to have kids and move into a bigger house and work out of the basements while kiddie is napping.

    As for stress-busting strategies it depends if life becomes so overwhelming and everything you touch goes wrong I think a vacation would do you good, you come back refreshed with a clear head so you can think rationally instead of saying. ” Why am I alive”?

    The way I deal with stress is LOTS of sex. Oh yeah did I mention SHOPPING SPREES! But in this economy I guess running on the treadmill as if you’re on fire really helps.

  7. 7 Ann
    November 20, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress lately, mainly due to the fact that my workload has increased significantly since the last round of layoffs and in this rat race, nobody can afford to work less than 12 hour days. I used to be able to wake up at 5:30 and hit the treadmill before a long day in the office, but now it’s rare for me to get home before midnight and I really need the extra hour of sleep. What do you suggest? How can I get the relaxing effects of exercise and not feel sleep deprived?

  8. 8 amy
    November 20, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    hahaha that is fantastic…. i love the response but i can see Lacey freaking out which just made me laugh out loud but Jess you are totally right otherwise

  9. 9 ariela
    November 23, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Oh my gosh, you guys are SOOOOOOO CUTEEEEEEEEE. I’m making baby voices here. Sorry if that wasn’t your desired reaction. 🙂 It’s like the song says… “No stress, no stress, no stressss…”

  10. 10 Letty
    September 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I know it’s almost two years late, and I’ll probably be the only one to read this message. But I have a huge problem with stress,even reading staff about stress is stressing me, so I have to write something.

    I have panic-attacks for 5 years now (they say that I suffer from spasmophilia), but I’m working on it. I started panic-attack at 13 and it took me more than three years to know that it was panic-attack. I was a very shy and sensible girl, then, and people often laughed at me, and I took it very personally. Panic-attacks were not too bad at the beginning, but it got worse with time. First it was only breath problem, but for three years it turned on tetany (which is awful and makes me really weak).
    It took me so long to understand what was happening to me because I was hiding it, maybe a little bit ashamed about it, and people who knew didn’t know what to do (and I beg them to lie for me).
    It created a lot of problem in my life, and more stress though.
    Once, around two years ago, I had a really bad panic attack which last around 15 minutes, and for the first time I told my mum, we went to the doctor and he told me it was panic attack, and we can’t do much for it.

    But I have some tips for people who have panic attack as well:

    When you feel panic attack starts: As Jessica said; say to yourself “breathe in, breathe out” very slowly. But if you’re not strong enough to fight (it can happen), just take a small bag (plastic bag) and breath in it until the panic attack is over. I know it can feel scary to breathe in a bag as we already are hardly breathing, but it works. If you can’t do it yourself, ask someone to do it for you.

    You can also take magnesium pills (it’ll help you fight when panic attack starts)

    I still have a problem with stress, but less panic attacks. I’m kind of stressing for anything.
    My heart beats around 65 when I’m fine and don’t do efforts, but it can beats to 140 just because of stress.

    To deal with my stress: I breathe a lot, I try to concentrate on something else, like little thing (I’m walking, I’m speaking, I’m playing with my hands,…), I listen to music (it helped me a lot).

    I hope that I won’t have panic attacks anymore (I haven’t had for six months now), and be able to deal with my stress.

    PS: Sorry if there are mistakes and things you don’t understand, I’m a French teenager and I don’t speak English fluently.

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