It’s a modern reality that we deal with a lot of stress. As a modern society, we have many inputs coming in at us from many different directions, and our connected lifestyle has only exacerbated the issue. There are now more avenues of approach to stress us than ever in human history, and as humans, we tend to deal with stress in different ways. However, one common method is to eat or to drink alcohol. When you’re trying to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, these are not tenable.
I can’t speak to what anyone else does to deal with stress, but I can tell you what I do, and what has worked for me. I’m not saying that this will be the perfect solution for you, but what I’m hoping to get across is that you need to be creative to find what works for you, and to go to it when you are under stress.
I like to occupy my mind to deal with stress. The more stress I’m under, the more I like to dig into something, whether it’s a video game that involves a lot of strategy and tactical thinking, cleaning my pipes, reading a book, or meditating while smoking one of my pipes on the porch with the dog in my lap. When the stress is bad enough, I’ll go so far as to take Sherry and go out of town for a day or two just to get a change of scenery. Sometimes, it’s just what my brain needs to get off the closed-loop stress process I’m experiencing.
At all costs, I try to avoid eating as a means of relieving stress. Would a chocolate mousse or cake make me feel better? In the short-term, probably, but I’ve adopted a long-term view on my health and in how I deal with stress, and I know that short-term solutions can add to the long-term stress and actually make things worse. As good as the short-term solution may be, I have to look long-term. That’s what lifestyle change is about: the long game.
The last solution I employ when dealing with stress is talking about it. I talk to my wife, my friends, and even my kids. I discuss it with people close to me to allow me to relieve the pressure (like an Instant Pot!), or to perhaps elicit some advice on how to resolve the stressor. I don’t like saddling others with my problems, but sometimes, it’s the only way out of a situation. I think sometimes it would be smarter of me to not wait so long to talk to someone, but being the stubborn guy that I can be, I try to solve all my problems alone first. Even if it involves a little stress.
Therein lies the issue: we often bring stress upon ourselves. I know there are certain stressors that are out of our control: work, family, social, economic, political, etc. However, many of these can be mitigated by acting quickly, and often, that acting is talking to someone about it. I use this as a last option, but perhaps I shouldn’t. Maybe it should be the first.