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Posted on Sep 19, 2012 in Dear Diary, Weigh Ins | 21 comments

Stress (Weigh-in)

I am stressed.

There are no two ways about it. Dealing with the actual events of last week (to refresh the memories of those who may not have tuned in, a bathroom in my house flooded into the kitchen below and my new car was hit twice — all within 24 hours), then the subsequent hours of dealing with all the various insurance companies, then dealing with all the work I’ve been missing in order to deal with the two aforementioned things… it is no bueno. Plus, my whiplash/soft tissue injuries from the accidents doesn’t make dealing with things any easier. I know that I’m getting through it — one step at a time and all that — but it’s all still a lot to deal with. And it’s stressful.

Surprising though it may be to hear, I don’t really handle stress all that well (ha!). My life is really not all that stressful most of the time, and I fully admit to that. I am no longer dealing with any financial crisis. I have a job that, while certainly not perfect, is at least not particularly demanding of me (usually). I have good friends, a supportive family, and a loving boyfriend. I have adorable schnauzers. All in all, I can’t really complain too much (I mean, I still DO complain, of course, but I really shouldn’t, hahaha). So when life throws me a curveball (or, you know, three), I’m not really too sure what to do with myself.

Normally, when I’m feeling a little worse for the wear, I try to treat myself. I try to get myself to take my mind off of things. I go get a pedicure. Or a massage. Or if things are really bad, I let myself loose in the Coach store. But this seems like a whole other ballgame, honestly, and I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing that a fresh coat of nail polish or a new purse (no matter how much I love the new Legacy Collection) will fix.

This stress is manifesting itself in emotional, mental, and physical ways. Allow me to elaborate.

Emotional: I am emotional. Well, okay, to be fair, I’m always emotional. But I mean, moreso than usual. My emotions are heightened to PMS levels, even though I’m not PMSing. I got choked up on a conference call with my boss yesterday afternoon. It is bad.

Mental: So last week I talked about how the week was causing me some serious backslide-like thoughts with regard to my binge eating disorder. But that’s not the only effect that all this stress has had on my thoughts. It has also been taking a serious toll on my sleep. Not only am I sleeping even more fitfully than normal, but what little sleep I do get is not restful. My dreams have been seriously whacked out lately. My head is plagued with scenes of serial killers and Hunger Games-style survival situations and dying family members and date rapists and… yeah, it’s messed up in there. A lot of horror, a lot of bad situations, and a lot of waking up in the middle of the night and not wanting to go back to sleep.

Physical: So this brings us to the physical element. Now, granted, part of the physical pains that I’m dealing with are residual effects of the soft tissue damage (or whatever the official terminology is) from the accidents. I have a prescription for muscle relaxers (that honestly don’t really seem to do anything) and just had my second session with a massage therapist yesterday. But my shoulders, neck, and back feel like they are in BAD shape. My therapist actually said she was really surprised how much more tight and tense I was this week in comparison to last week, which probably isn’t good. Especially since my doctor said that the soreness/pain would get worse through days 1 – 5, but then should get better after that. Not so much, it would seem.

In addition to that, I also am breaking out on my face. Not in pimples, but in tiny red hive-like bumps all over my cheeks. Super attractive. Oh, and last night I got so rapidly sick to my stomach that I threw up. Yeah. Something has got to give, and I’m kind of at a loss. I’m already getting massage as part of my injury treatment, but it’s not the relaxing, melt-away-your-stress kind of massage. It’s the other kind. The bad, but good, but bad kind.

Sigh.

I know it will get better. Things are moving and hopefully in a few more weeks I will be able to look at this time in my life and laugh… in a laughing-crying kind of way, probably. The contractor came over to the house to give us an estimate on home repairs this AM, and I also dropped my car off to get it fixed (it hit 1000 miles just as I was pulling into the parking lot of the body shop… sad). I have a schmancy-looking Camry to drive around in the meantime. Unfortunately, the car feels ENORMOUS compared to my Focus, and I am petrified that I am going to hit something (it’s very spacious inside, which translates into it being WIDE). Because I definitely needed MORE anxiety when getting behind the wheel, right? Hahaha… ha.

Well, as long as we’re talking about stressful things, I guess I might as well get my weigh-in out of the way, huh?

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 203.8 lbs
This Weigh-in: 202.8 lbs
Difference: -1.0 lbs

Hey, look at that! Another pound gone. Normally, I would almost definitely be upset at only having lost 1 pound in three weeks (my last weigh-in was August 30th), but given the circumstances… I will take it. My appetite has been really off lately too (I guess that should fit under the “physical” category. Or is it mental? or emotional?) and it feels like I’m ravenous or I literally cannot stomach the idea of eating. There is no in-between anymore. So frankly, the fact that I haven’t put 5 more pounds back on is real cause for celebration.

What are your tips for relieving stress? I’m honestly willing to try anything from aromatherapy to Xanax at this point.

21 Comments

  1. Hey darlin! First off, congrats on a pound loss! Even though some people say a pound “isn’t much”, go pick up a 4 pack of butter next time you’re in the grocery store and realize that used to be on you. Then, put it back. :)

    Have you been to crossfit lately or trying to do any physical activity, even just walks around the ‘hood? I know it’s easy to back burner those things, but they tend to be my saving grace when it comes to dealing with stress. It also might be helpful for you to make a list of hte good things in your life (which you started to do before) just to put it all in perspective. Don’t get me wrong, the shit you are dealing with SUCKS and is annoying, but you have a lot of great things too and sometimes if you find yourself feeling sorry for yourself, you can look at the list to get a bit of a reality check. I used that method when I broke up with my ex (made a list of all the reasons he sucked and i was better off without him) for anytime I started wearing those rosy colored glasses and missing him, and it helped to snap me out of it. Also, make a plan to hang out with friends and get your mind off things! Like with me, for example? :)

  2. Beth has awesome suggestions! I second the friend one especially – if you can combine fitness AND friends it might be the best. I’m talking walks, not necessarily anything strenuous.

    The other thing I try to do when I am super stressed sounds incredibly counter-intuitive, but it almost always works. Drop something. Whether it’s working out, cross-training, meeting with friends, etc., sometimes just taking one thing off your to-do list helps tremendously. Obviously I’m not talking about dog-walking or anything really critical, but just saying, “That thing? It can wait.” makes a difference. Sometimes two or three things need to get dropped.

    Good luck! Hope your neck feels better soon.

  3. Congrats on the pound! Like Beth, I’d recommend something physical to get your mind off the stress. I tend to get very aggressive and/or antisocial when I’m stressed and if I don’t do something about it, I’m a bundle of nerves, ready to lash out at anyone and anything. However, a nice run around the neighborhood or swim at the rec center gets me to focus on how to control everything for that particular activity at that very moment—which gives me more confidence to tackle the things I have less control over. Not to mention, the achy muscles afterward are a reminder that, not only did I feed my mental health, my physical health benefitted too!

  4. Oh and I second the idea about the getting together with friends too—whatever happened to fab 5 for 5 Friday? ;)

  5. A pound is a pound is a pound. Awesome!

  6. Like the others above me, I also recommend some fitness/physical activity. I went through a tough breakup a few months ago AND was struggling w/ an awful boss and felt like what you seem to feel like for a while. One of the best tips my dad gave me was “when you feel sad, you know what to do! put on your running shoes.” Sometimes it’s hard to get the motivation to go for a walk or run or bike ride when you are feeling crappy about life, but it seriously helps. With friends or by yourself, it helps clear your head and will honestly give you a fresh perspective :) Give it a shot!

  7. First off going down is always better than going up so congrats on your weight loss!!

    Second…I second the exercise part I know it helps me a lot when I’m stressed. But I also suggest melatonin for your sleep it is a natural sleep aid that doesn’t have the side effects other sleep aids can and it helps calm the mind and the body. And when I was having really crazy dreams I found it helped to journal right before bed and get all concerns, thoughts, etc out of my head and onto paper just bullet list, ramble, etc. Another stress reliever that works for me is to write a letter to whatever is causing stress and let it have it for me it helps get it out of my mind and off my shoulders. And finally get a massage, facial, pedicure whatever you find relaxing for you that is time all to yourself.

  8. I won’t lie…Xanax does help. LOL. I think it is an awesome accomplishment that you lost a pound during everything you went through last week. Way to go!!

    My fave for stress relief is meditation and yoga. It makes me feel centered and calm.

  9. When my car was totaled last year, my doctor also gave me muscle relaxers for the whiplash, and all they did was make me really sleepy. Not at night. Only during the day. Just having to be at work in all that pain, minus the sleep, plus the grogginess, for the three or so weeks it persisted was TORTURE. I used to have dreams about calling the woman who hit me full speed with her SUV WHEN I WAS STOPPED AT A RED LIGHT IN MY COROLLA and telling her she ruined my life. Which actually I still sort of want to do.

  10. When I’m feeling truly overwhelmed with stress, I find that I need to both escape and focus. Escape: Read an easy, enthralling book. The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight; some sort of YA fiction that is simple to get into, takes you away from your world, and allows you to focus entirely on the problems of imaginary people rather than your own. Alternatively, watch the equivalent type of tv show. Buffy is my current escapism of choice ;) Focus: Spend an hour or so every couple of days with no music, no books, no tv. Just you and your thoughts (and maybe pets if they’re being quiet). You can lie down and close your eyes, sit and focus on a spot on the wall, whatever you need. Then just unleash your thoughts. Let your mind go wherever it wants. Think about what’s wrong, what’s right, what your plans are, or don’t think at all and let your subconscious do the work.

  11. All right, Gretchen. It’s time for you and me to pack our bags and spend a week in Paris. Let’s do it! We’ll hire people to deal with our stress while we’re gone.

  12. Exercise is cheaper than therapy. :) Ditto what everyone else said – get some activity in! Yoga will help, as will walking in this beautiful weather we’ve been having.

  13. After I’ve taken time for me (i.e., eaten my favorite healthy item, bought myself something cute, begged my hubs for a massage, watched a few episodes of something on TV), I take a nap. And before I pass out, I tell myself, “When you wake up, YOU AREN’T INDULGING IN ANY OF THIS NONSENSE.”

    And then I wake up. Grumble to myself a bit (re: alot). And snap out of it.

    A lot of how I act is based on my own thoughts. What I feel? Is how my body says I WANT/DESERVE to feel. Depressed sucks. And I DONT want to feel that. So I force myself to be ridiculously happy. I plaster a smile on my face. I make myself say nice things. And you know what? It works.

    Because after smiling like a complete baffoon for three hours… I start to think myself pretty darn silly.

    And I laugh at myself.

    If it STILL doesn’t work though, I take another nap. It gets better. Swear it does!

  14. Hey, a pound down is much better than pounds up. Especially during such stress.

    I have a difficult time coping with stress. One suggestion that is useful, take some time to write out a list of things you enjoy and are stress relieving to you or distracting. For example, my list has things like crocheting, calling a friend, exercise, going for a walk, taking a long shower, watching a favorite show, and listening to happy music. I even made a playlist of feel good songs on my Spotify (free for your computer or subscription for mobile usage). Anyway, the idea is that when you feel stressed, pull out that list and just pick something from it to do.

    I hope things start to brighten. That’s a lot of stress all at once.

  15. First of all, what a crazy couple of weeks – I hope you’re giving yourself a LOT of slack for all you’ve been through. Just ONE of those things would be stressful enough, but multiple within such a short amount of time, is completely worthy of stress. BUT, like you said, you ARE and you WILL get through it. One day at a time.
    Second, and as for my stress tips, I honestly find it’s all about exercise, peace and breathing. Exercise is my release and often a good run can do more for me than most things (including sleep!). Peace for me is all about meditation and yoga. With your injuries, I’m not sure how much you’re physically able to do, but taking time out of your day to focus on YOU and creating a sense of peace (which at least for me usually leads to a nap) can be very beneficial. And finally, breathing. Again with the yoga, but honestly yoga taught me to just breathe and through that, I’ve learned to let the little things not get to me as much so then when these big things happen, I have a better attitude, understanding and ability to find my way through.

    Good luck, girl – we’re here for you!

  16. I totally feel you on the wanting to resort to things outside of yourself to make yourself better, whether it’s by binge-eating or buying things you don’t need (“treating” yourself), because that’s what I’ve done to fix stress for all 25 years of my life. But lately, I’ve been working with a coach, and I’ve begun to realize that I used those as ways to basically run away from my emotions. I think a lot of times our emotions are there to try to tell us something about how we need to meet our needs, but people like you and me cover up the uncomfortable so quickly with outside stuff like food or purchases that we don’t even get to uncover what’s really causing our pain.

    So yes, you’re understandably feeling some emotional pain because of all these catastrophes. But I think the spin cycle of painful thoughts related to what happened is probably what’s causing you the most pain, not just the fact that this painful incident happened (what’s something referred to as “clean pain” versus “dirty pain”). Maybe you feel scared, unsafe, worrying the world wants to unleash more crap on you. Maybe you feel like this shouldn’t have happened to you. Maybe you feel pissed at the people who put you in this situation, or just pissed at the universe.

    I would suggest leaning into these feelings, trying to uncover the painful thoughts that are causing you stress. Try not to get in an emotional spin cycle where you’re just confirming how shitty everything is. Instead, notice the recurring thoughts that you’re having about this situation to try to determine the root belief that’s causing you this stress and pain. Once you can identify the painful thought or belief, try to turn it around and find evidence for the new thought. So if your most painful thought is that you don’t feel safe/secure anymore and you think the universe is going to unleash hell on you at any time, try to find evidence for the things that are stable and safe and secure in your life. Find times where you’ve had these painful thoughts before and remind yourself of the outcome. Convince yourself by finding enough evidence that the painful thought is not necessarily true, and I’d be willing to bet you will feel a huge stress relief from this. You’re addressing the problem head-on, which is infinitely better than covering it up with outside things. This PDF might help you learn how to recognize and address painful thoughts: http://thelifecoachschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Self-Coach-101-eBook.pdf

    Anyway, sorry this is super long. I know this whole thing sounds pretty hippy-dippy, but I swear that picking out the painful thoughts causing you to feel these shitty emotions and then working on those thoughts really does work wonders. Let me know if you have any questions about this. I hope it helps!

    • Thank you so much for this thoughtful and SUPER informative comment, Nicole. I appreciate it, and will absolutely be giving a lot of thought to your points and am looking at the eBook right now. :)

  17. Great post by Nicole about dealing with the mind part. You might look up “cognitive behavior therapy,” which is basically what she’s talking about. I would also recommend melatonin for sleep, especially if you normally don’t sleep well and it’s not just the muscle pain and recent anxiety. I have been dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety lately, and a combination of exercising every day, B vitamins, and vitamin D have helped a LOT. (I have also been doing light reading instead of my normal fairly heavy fare.)

    I love your blog. Thank you so much for writing it, and I really hope you feel better soon.

  18. Congrats on the one pound loss! You’ve already got a lot of good advice here so I’ll just say I hope things get less stressful for you soon!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Life Update & Weigh-in|Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! - [...] Weight: 246 lbs Last Weigh-in: 202.8 lbs This Weigh-in: 201.5 lbs Difference: -1.3 [...]
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  3. Stress with a Capital S | Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! - [...] written about stress and anxiety before, and I’ve tried taking up some of your suggestions on how to deal …

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