How a health coach helped her anxiety during quarantine

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man in gray sweater covering his face with face mask
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Us health coaches are not perfect all the time, or ever. This is why I stress that balance is the most important. Eating well, most of the time is the goal. Even us, slip up and need to reevaluate our situation and treat ourselves like a client. That’s what happened to me recently. 

I’ve talked about my anxiety struggles in the past. Its still something I work on daily. During the past month, being in quarantine I have found that I was having days where my anxiety and stress levels were getting the best of me again.

Its to be expected. We are going through an unprecedented time. Our lives literally turned upside down overnight. Health fears. Economic and financial fears. Add a 19-month old into the mix, who is now talking and very opinionated.  So, yea..there’s a lot going now.

During this time, my eating habits slipped a bit. Even though I cook majority of my meals, I was eating a lot of bread, sugary desserts and candy. I started having my nightly cocktail again. I was sleeping poorly and therefore tired all day long (which compounds stress and anxiety). I wasn’t exercising. I was irritable all the time.

It wasn’t until I stepped back and looked at the overall situation that I noticed something was wrong and needed to be fixed. I was using sugar, bread, and alcohol as coping mechanisms for stress. I wanted to feel like myself again. Therefore, I had to break this cycle.

First thing: I stopped baking so much. Baking is a wonderful stress release. But cooking up sugary deserts for literally just me and my husband to eat is a lot of sugar for just two people. I was making pies, cookies, cakes, and I even made rice krispies treats one day.  I have no problem with baking sugary treats. I actually do love it. But it shouldn’t be every single day.

Sugar is actually the worse thing to eat a lot of when you are already stressed and anxious. It makes your hormones run crazy, which makes your brain crazy and therefore the anxiety and stress don’t actually go away, but get worse.

So, I stopped baking so much. I was eating too much sugar, especially at night. That had to stop. I started limiting myself to just a little to satisfy my sweet tooth and then I switch to unsweetened herbal (or magnesium) tea. Or, if I wanted to have a baked treat, I have been making these chocolate mug cakes, which are really good and simple to make. I didn’t stop baking, just did it a lot less. This way I still could enjoy it, but I wasn’t tempted all the time because I was always surrounded by pies and cookies.

The next problem was my nightly cocktail. I noticed that because I was always at a high alert most of the day, that by the time I put my son to bed and finally sat down, I needed that drink. I needed to decompress. Now, instead of having a cocktail every night, I save it for only a 1-2 nights a week. The rest of the week, I have tea.

Just like a good meal, I love me a good cocktail. However, just like dessert, a good cocktail needs to be treated as a treat. I wasn’t doing that. I was drinking one every night out of habit. That needed to stop.

Once, I stopped indulging in too much sugary treats and cocktails, something happened: My anxiety dramatically decreased. I started sleeping better. My energy also increased during the day. I also made it a point to start exercising a few times a week, which helped too (in retrospect, the energy increase probably gave me more motivation to actually want to work out).

Making just these three changes helped me to instantly feel better. My brain fog lifted. My mood improved.

They weren’t even huge changes. Just some tweaks. But its amazing how just a few simple tweaks can make you instantly feel better overall.

Outside events like quarantine and a rambunctious toddler aren’t going away any time soon. However, how I deal with them is something I can control. I can also control what I eat to help manage these stressors better so they don’t make me a crazy, angry, stressed out mom all the time.

Lessons learned:

  1. Added sugar makes anxiety and stress worse. Even though its an immediate stress relief, it won’t make the overall problem go away. Decreased sugar intake will actually make you feel better overall.
  2. Alcohol impairs sleep. Yes, you fall asleep quicker because you are relaxed, but you actually aren’t sleeping soundly. Then you are tired during the day, which makes stress and anxiety worse. Awake people are generally happier people overall.
  3. Exercise. Exercising is the best mood lifter. It helps you handle stress better, alleviates anxiety, increases energy, helps you sleep better, and overall just makes you feel better. Like Elle Woods says in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
  4. Find healthier alternatives. I switched to tea at night. I found healthier dessert options that were quick to make and satisfied my sweet tooth. I didn’t eliminate everything all together, so I wouldn’t feel deprived but treated treats, as treats.

 

I wasn’t balancing my day and my eating habits in the best way that was appropriate for me. Too much sugar and bread affected my mood and increased my anxiety. Because I still want to enjoy those pleasures, I just have to balance them better with my overall diet. The same went with alcohol. Its just not something I can do everyday. I also stopped prioritizing exercising, which is silly because I know its an instant stress relief. So, even on days when I don’t feel like it, I still put on my work out clothes. I still get out my laptop, grab my water and put on an exercise video. Once, I am done, I instantly feel better.

If you are feeling super anxious right now. Its ok. I don’t think any of us is impervious to what is going on in the world right now. But you can control how you deal with it. If you notice that on your super anxious days, you are finding yourself over indulging, that is something that needs to be looked at.

I can help too! I went through it. I understand how it can be very difficult to figure out what your triggers are and healthier alternatives to help. You owe it to yourself, your sanity, and your health to feel your best. You can contact me anytime for support.

 

 

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