We've all been there. We've all felt overwhelmed, like we're running like chickens with their heads chopped off.
Maybe you're a business owner or solopreneur.
Maybe you're a mom.
Maybe you're a military spouse.
Maybe you're a caregiver.
Maybe you're a combination of all of them!
During these times of stress, many of us make three avoidable mistakes that contribute to stress. Here are a few easy steps you can take to avoid them in the future.
1. You think you don't have time to do things that might help you.
This can look like not taking the time to come up with your meals for the week. It could look like not going to the grocery store. It could look like skipping that workout, even though you know it actually helps you relieve stress.
Take a few minutes now to pause. What do you value in life? Do the decisions you make on a daily basis reflect those values?
For instance, maybe you value having a healthy and happy family. Are you taking actions to have healthful options in your house?
Sure, you would have to take the time to see what you have and go to the grocery store, but maybe you make it easier on yourself by doing grocery pickup.
Think of the alternative: You don't go to the grocery store. You don't have much in your house that would be meal-worthy. You're kids are hungry, you're cranky, but you're too busy to slow down and cook. Instead, you opt for the fast food line. In reality, though, the 30 minutes you're spending in line probably would be the same amount you would spend to prepare a fresh meal. And while fast food can be part of a balanced lifestyle, does eating fast food on a consistent basis reflect your value of a healthy family?
2. You interpret stress as weakness.
When we think of evolution, stress is actually a benefit - not a weakness. Stress inspires a fight or flight response that can get us away from dangerous situations. You're about to crash into the back of the car in front of you; stress inspires you to slam the brake pedal. You're getting chased by an animal; stress inspires you to either stand still or run like heck (depending on the animal, of course).
So why is it, when it comes to our daily lives, that we view stress as a weakness?
Stress in the right amounts can be beneficial. Are you someone who performs best under tight deadlines? That's beneficial stress in action!
Viewing stress and overwhelm as a weakness contributes to a negative view of ourselves. And let's be real... we already have enough negativity in our lives!
The next time you're feeling stressed - maybe even right now - think: How is this benefiting me right now?
You're stressed that you won't have time to go to the grocery store this weekend? Get out that app, girl, and add those items! Schedule a pickup for the next most convenient time to you or ask a spouse, friend, or family member for backup.
3. You default to routine defenses - whether or not they work.
When I wrote the words, "routine defenses," I immediately thought of armed forces who initially fought with swords and shields. If our military today defaulted to those routine defenses, I don't think we would get too far!
When we're talking about food, that routine defense can be a diet.
Diet culture and diet rules give us a sense of control. They paint a black and white picture. This food is good, this food is bad.
We all know, though, that diets don't work.
Diets fuel an all-or-nothing mentality. Can't go to the gym for 90 minutes? Fine, I won't even go for 15. Already had dessert with lunch? There goes my whole day!
Defaulting to past behaviors doesn't work. In fact, it can contribute to stress. How?
Suddenly you went from eating whatever to needing to follow this list of do's and don'ts. Suddenly you went from being able to control your portions to binge eating out of control because you just have to have the "bad" food.
Diets don't work. They fuel negativity in our lives. They create this black-and-white or all-or-nothing thinking that sets us up for failure.
Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, overcome that overwhelm by taking on a new plan. Loosen those diet reigns. Allow yourself to live and to enjoy life. Taste food and celebrate with others. You are worthy of way more than diet culture tells you.