Stress is inevitable. It is something we all have to deal with. No doubt, the easiest way to deal with stress is to soothe it with food.  It’s instant gratification! I mean nothing takes that edge off like fist-full of  Oreo cookies or a few “breaks” off of a Kit-Kat chocolate bar. Am I right?


If you’ve been reading my blogs at all, you know that an alien probably possessed me during that first paragraph. Well, guess what… that happens to a lot of us. Carb and sugar starved aliens take over the rational part of our brains and then we wonder why we’ve gained 2 or 3 (or 10) pounds since our last physical. We need to stop it before it starts. I’m here to tell you, there are other ways to alleviate the stress. Ways that don’t involve squirting whipped cream from a can directly into your mouth. So, before you find yourself in a trance, eating chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream out of the carton, try these alternate ways to de-stress.


1. Leave your shoes at the front door. When we carry the stress from the outside world through our front doors, we will usually find ourselves standing right in front of the refrigerator. My suggestion: remove your shoes the second you walk in your house. Repeat the mantra, “I’m leaving my stress at the door.” Want to do one step better? Instead of rushing to the kitchen in your work clothes, take the time to not only remove your shoes, but also change into comfortable clothes. (Note: the removal of clothing does not need to be at the front door, as long as it’s done immediately upon your return home.) This will help you shake off the stress from the outside world, and begin anew with a clean, more comfortable slate.

2. Breathe. Nothing has been proven to decrease stress as quickly as deep breathing. Breathe in slowly until your lungs are completely filled with air, hold it for a few seconds, then exhale very slowly until your lungs are empty. Pause here for a few seconds before you repeat the process. (I like to count to 5 as I inhale, then hold for 2, exhale for 5, hold for 2 and repeat.) If you can do this exercise for 5-10 minutes per day, you will notice a dramatic difference in your stress level. I often do alternate nostril breathing as well. It is a common practice in yoga and it works to greatly reduce stress in just a few cycles.

3. Have a healthy snack. It’s true that food soothes stress. That’s why we tend to eat when we feel frazzled. However, when you snack on sugar-laden foods, you are really only self-soothing for about 15 minutes. Then, unfortunately, the sugar hits your bloodstream and the roller coaster begins. It’s a non-stop cycle of sugar highs, sugar lows, and re-soothing again with (you guessed it) sugar. For some of us this cycle ends only when we sleep. My best advice…. Don’t START the cycle. Nobody feels good about the 1 AM Walk of Shame – to your bed – from the couch, where you accidentally fell asleep after your sugar crash, with crumbs all over yourself and a Nutter-Butter stuck to your hair. Uggh! However, if you are a “mindful eater” and remember to have a healthy snack, such as raw almonds or peanut butter and celery, you will be less inclined to eat the sugary junk afterwards. Not sure if you are mindfully eating? Try this trick: eat with your non-dominant hand. I know this will feel very strange. That is the point. Stress often times causes us to mindlessly shovel food into our mouths. By eating with your non-dominant hand, you are bringing awareness and focus back to your actions.

4. Forgive yourself. The worst thing you can possibly do is kick yourself when you are down. Once you slip, and eat a few Sour Cream & Onion Lay’s potato chips, don’t feel so guilty and stressed that you decide to finish off the entire bag. (By the way, I’m convinced it is physically impossible to eat just one potato chip, and I’ve done the research to prove it). Beating yourself up about it, and polishing off the bag, is only going to cause more stress. If you have a few potato chips (or even more than a few), learn to forgive yourself quickly so you can get back on track.

5. Do Eagle Pose. There are many poses in yoga that help reduce stress. So, for stress prevention, include a regimen of yoga as part of your weekly exercise regimen. However, for a quick fix, do Eagle Pose. It is my favorite of the yoga poses for stress reduction because it requires concentration to hold the pose, while it stretches the shoulders, back, and hips: areas where many of us hold tension. Click here for a tutorial.

6. Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This is exactly what it sounds like. It is the systematic tensing and releasing of muscle groups to promote relaxation. Start by tensing, then releasing your feet. Next move up to your calves, thighs, etc. It takes practice to learn, but it is well worth it.

7. Turn your phone off
. Seriously. Turn it off. Our phones are not just for talking anymore. In fact, talking is probably the least thing we actually do on them. They have become our means to text, shop, email, photograph, entertain, research, navigate, and socialize. Turn them off and you have just given yourself a break from many of the stress factors of the outside world. Hooray!

8. Guided Imagery. Guided imagery is a powerful technique that proactively directs the mind to focus on images that are positive. Imagine yourself in your “stress-free” place. This is different for everyone. For some, it’s a secluded beach you were fortunate enough to visit (or you imagine one day you will). For others, it’s cuddling up with a nice book. For me, my stress-free place is the bathtub, surrounded by bubbles and a glass of wine. Ahhhhh….. Whatever image you choose, close your eyes and concentrate on this image for a few minutes. You will feel your heart rate and breathing begin to slow, as the stress is released from your body.

9. Exercise. Exercise is crucial for stress reduction. Physical activity helps to increase the production of endorphins (your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters). Regular exercise can lower the symptoms associated with anxiety and mild depression. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which brings me to the next point…

10. Get a good night’s sleep. Less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night not only causes stress and other health concerns, it also ages our skin! Get your Zzzz’s, folks

11. Laugh. It’s difficult to be stressed-out when you are laughing. The two seem counter-intuitive. So, when you find yourself a bit frazzled, call your wanna-be comedian friend and get your laugh on. If you are not one of those blessed to have a friend who tickles your funny bone, then watch a funny movie.
(Just be careful not to fall into the movie snack trap.)

12. Be thankful. If we just take a moment every day to be thankful for all that we are and all that we have, we will be less anxious about all that we are not and all that we have not. In this way, every day can be one of “thanks-giving”… (no, that does not mean that every day you get to eat pecan pie.)

So there you have it. 12 ways to combat stress that don’t involve adding inches to your waistline. Use these tips to de-stress, and you will hopefully find that you will weigh-less.

Live Young,
Darnell 🙂

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