Guest Post by Trish
I am a huge advocate for stress management and ridding your life of stress whenever possible.
Have a stressful relationship? Get rid of it. Have a stressful job? Quit. But there are times when you can't eliminate the stress, for example, when something tragic happens to you or a loved one, or in my case, you actually enjoy the thing that is wreaking havoc on your life.
For the better part of this year I have lead a project that was under staffed with an overly ambitious timeline. To keep my sanity, I've had to make a few adjustments to my normal routine.
Get all the sleep. As the project started to heat up, I made sleep my priority above all other activities, aside from the care of my family. When my sleep is off, everything is off. I start making bad decisions and am truly just rotten to be around. I have even had occasion to fall asleep during a meeting – my colleagues have the pictures to prove it! While 8 hours (or more) of sleep is ideal, I find I can get by on 6 when necessary, getting an additional few hours on the weekend. To ensure that I get my sleep on, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.
- Tea in general is relaxing for me. I prefer a mint or jasmine green tea, but also drink chamomile when it's bedtime. Yogi Bedtime seems to do the trick if I'm feel particularly wound up.
- Melatonin. I don't use it often, but when I'm having trouble staying asleep, I find that I get 8-10 hours of solid sleep and don't wake up groggy. Usually the following night's sleep is just as good.
- When I have several ideas and/or to-dos bouncing around in my head right before bed, I know it's a recipe for broken sleep. So before going to bed, I do a brain dump by either writing down or creating a voice memo of all these things. This way I'm not worrying that I won't remember them and waking up hours earlier than I should.
Let it go. Don't be afraid to let things go. My training regimen is down to one strength session per week. Yup, just one. I could push myself and ‘get it in', but I know myself well enough to know that I'd be risking injury. In order to get in more training sessions, I'd have to rob my sleep and that is not an option at present. As an alternative, I make sure I maximize my NEAT throughout my day, walking to work, taking the stairs two at a time, etc. It's what I can manage at the moment and it helps me to still feel active.
Find something that relaxes you. A friend turned me on to Ultimate Yogi over the summer. Of the 14 or so classes, I really only do one – Gentle. This routine relaxes my body and mind like nobody's business. If I could, I'd do it daily. Whether it's yoga, meditation or a soothing bath, find something that helps you to unwind, both mentally and physically.
Eat good. Don't let stress be an excuse for a poor diet. While I'm not tracking my food currently, another one of those activities that I had to let go, I still manage to eat to my plan…most days. Under normal circumstances, I prepare about 80% of my snacks & meals. Nowadays, it's closer to 50%. However, I keep some prepared foods on hand, such as Trader Joe's lightly seasoned grilled chicken, pouches of tuna and salmon. Simply add some veggies, salsa, and avocado for a great meal in minutes. Similarly, when ordering in, I order something similar to what I might have prepared. For snacks, I keep fresh fruit, turkey jerky, quest bars and other protein supplements within my reach.
My project is in the home stretch, as they say. I'm rounding third and can almost taste the normalcy. For the past few weeks or so my work days have averaged between 12-15 hours, but amazingly, I don't feel stressed. I miss my normal, but I'm practicing patience knowing that it is not far away.
In the past, I would have been consumed with not gaining weight during this time, ‘working out' at the same level to maintain a scale number and keeping my cal intake low. Even though my training volume has been reduced substantially, my calorie intake has not changed. My strength is good and I am even hitting a few PRs. My mind is clear and focused. So much of my ability to get through this period is simply due to a better understanding of how my body works and what its needs are. After two years of EM2WL, it still proves itself to me over and over again. I miss my beloved iron that I only visit once a week, twice if I'm lucky, and my EM2WL peeps. It has been a roller coaster of a year, but I'm still thriving!