It happens to everyone…you are in a good routine: exercising, drinking water, planning meals, cooking, and taking time for yourself. And then…life happens. Things fall apart. You’re stressed, tired, not eating on a regular basis (or overeating), not planning, not exercising, and so on. And then you feel awful physically and emotionally.
What are you to do? You can’t just magically change your life circumstances. You can’t take the stress away or make the problems go away. You just have to push forward. But do you have to accept the fatigue, low energy, cravings, and feeling out of control? Of course not. That’s when you enter Survival Mode.
Step 1: Identify 3-5 behaviors that give you biggest impact in your health. Here are some examples:
- drinking water instead of soda
- eating at home
- keeping a food diary
- taking time for yourself
Step 2: Based on your current life circumstances, identify which of those behaviors are most realistic. Choose 1-3 and write them down as specific SMART goals. Here is what I mean:
- Walk outside in the morning for 20 minutes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
- Take 5 minutes of alone time on my backyard porch every evening after dinner.
- Limit eating out to 2 times per week.
Step 3: Choose a friend, family member, health professional, or your friendly dietitian (me!) and share your goals. Ask that person to check on you periodically to see how you’re doing with your goals.
Step 4: Adjust these goals as necessary. If one goal seems to add more stress and pressure to your life, then drop it. If you identify another goal that would give you a bigger impact, then add it.
Step 5: Enjoy feeling proud and happy that you are managing your health, even when things are falling apart.
Finally, in the words of one of my favorite authors, Geneen Roth, “When things fall apart…let them. Find a soft place to land and fall apart for 5 minutes. Then get up, wipe the tears, pick your kids up from school, and move on with your day.”
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Please share, what’s your favorite way to take care of yourself when you are really stressed?