You may have noticed that I took a short break from posting here last week. Unfortunately, the busy-ness of January has carried over into February, and I’ve been having a hard time carving out some “me” time.
I met with my dietitian last week, and admitted that, despite no sugar, something was still not quite right. I had been pretty “regular” (if you catch my drift) when starting out on the sugar free path, but about two weeks ago, something changed enough to throw everything off kilter. While it probably doesn’t directly affect this issue, meaning, I don’t think a no sugar diet causes constipation, but I do think that no sugar has played a small part of this problem. My dietitian mentioned that not only is the digestive system affected by the food you eat and amount of liquid you drink, but also other, more external factors, like movement/exercise, sleep, and stress can also cause problems.
Going without sugar is a stressful undertaking. It’s not easy to go out with your friends and say, “oh, no, I can’t have any of that,” when they order something for everyone to share, or when they want to meet up for drinks. It can be really difficult when someone wants to treat you to something nice, and they bring you sweets. It takes a lot of will power to stop yourself from eating the cupcakes or cookies your mom bakes. Giving up sugar is a huge mental game and it’s not an easy fight. I didn’t realize it too much at the beginning, but after awhile, the battles against sugar cravings were just tiring.
On top of that, without going into too much detail, my job is rather stressful. My boss essentially told me one day last month that I need to readjust my work-life balance to put more work during “life” time. Outside my 9-5 job, I have a bunch of other undertakings that I do enjoy, but that take a lot of time too. Not to mention, I need time to decompress and relax before heading out the door back to the 9-5 gig.
I’m sure people out there will read this and say “stop whining, you’ve got it easy.” I know, and I’m trying not to complain; rather, I want to explain that stress is huge element in overall health that many people gloss over. You can eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, exercise everyday, sleep 7 or 8 hours, but if you’re stressed to the max everyday, it’s not healthy.
Thankfully, I do have some tools that I have been incorporating back into my routine that can help combat stress.
Essential oils have been a huge help. I have turned back to using vetiver every night to help me fall asleep faster, and stay asleep all night. A side effect of a stress filled day is that at night, your mind can’t slow down, and you end up running through everything you’re worried about happening the next day or next week or whatever, making it harder to fall asleep, leading to less sleep, which makes you tired the next day, and unable to focus.. you see where I’m going here. To use the oil, I have a roller ball bottle that I keep by my bed with a diluted blend of vetiver oil and fractionated coconut oil (liquid at room temperature). Something like 20 drops of vetiver in the 10mL roller ball bottle, topped off with coconut oil. Diluting oils like this 1. saves money/makes them last longer and 2. acts as a “time-release” for the oil to work it’s magic, so to speak. I roll the oil on the bottoms of my feet, rub my feet together a little, and once my head hits the pillow, I am out like a light.
I also use a calming blend of oils every night in my diffuser. It has lavender, chamomile and vanilla (to name a few) which help me wind down. I turn on the diffuser when I go to my room to get ready for bed. I leave the room to go wash my face, and when I come back, my room smells amazing, and I am primed for sleep. The diffuser is near the head of my bed, and so my pillow smells fantastic! I realized the other day that I had fallen out the routine of using these every night, and now I can see how much it has an effect on my day.
Another routine I’m trying to establish is meditation. Of course, meditation has a bazillion benefits, and relief from stress is one of the most-noted. I have been using an app on my phone called Calm that leads me through some guided meditations that I can do for five minutes when feeling overwhelmed at work. It definitely makes a difference, and I’m going to try setting reminders in my phone to do the meditation at a certain time. Regimented time and structure is a necessity for me, otherwise, I procrastinate.
Of course, I’m also trying to find out how to fit yoga back into my routine. While cardio and weight lifting makes me feel awesome and accomplished, yoga is very centering and calming. I just need to find out how to fit it back into my routine. I would love to do it in the morning, but I’m not sure how to add it in without having to wake up at 4:00 am to fit everything in!
And here, my friends, you can see the stress continuing to parade around my head.
So tell me, how do you combat stress? What are your keys to relaxation? I would love to hear other people’s routines, and I am open to suggestions to try something new.
For those interested in learning more about essential oils, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.