Healthy Stress Relievers


[Post disclaimer: I actually wrote this between 1:00 and 2:00 this afternoon.  I was about to put the finishing touches on it when I glanced at the clock.  It read 2:05 and my initial thought was “Cool.  I still have 25 minutes before I need to leave for work!” WRONG.  It was with a small amount of panic that I realized I needed to be work in 25 minutes! The post was put on hold until now, so pretend it’s early afternoon as you read this!]

Happy Saturday!  I just arrived home after a sweaty, sassy Zumba class.  I’m telling ya, I don’t care if you have bad rhythm or terrible dancing skills – Zumba is the perfect activity for whenever you’re feeling a little less than stellar about yourself.  It works my smile muscles just as much as my booty!

It’s a may-jah stress reliever, too, and that’s definitely what I need right now.  Check out what’s coming up in the next few weeks:

  1. Buying books for school which, most unfortunately, will require me to shell out more more money than I make for two weeks worth of work at Smoothie King.
  2. School: 2 dance classes, 2 Literature, 1 Science (note to all college freshmen: get math/science out of the way NOW!) plus 2 Lit classes I’ll have to take online through other Universities in order to graduate in December.
  3. My AFAA Certification Test on September 9th. Study, study, study!
  4. Teaching fitness classes plus the time required to learn class choreography.
  5. Continuing to work at Smoothie King.
  6. Lindenwood U. Dance Concert auditions and rehearsals.
  7. Starting my first job as a book editor.  I’ll be working on a 300 page manuscript for a local writer.
  8. Keeping up with the blog!

Deeeep breath.  It’s pretty safe to say that I’m terrified (probably to the point where I won’t be able to relax and enjoy my last week of summer) and I’m not really sure how I’m going to have time for every thing. But I CAN and WILL do it.  I keep telling myself “this too shall pass” and remembering that, although I’ll have a jam-packed schedule, a lot of good things will be happening. I’m no longer just a student – I’m getting a strong start on my careers in both the fitness as writing fields!

So, other than Zumba, what do I do when I’m faced with so many responsibilities?

1. I make lots and lots of lists (can you tell? Second list in this post!)

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From left to right: my To-Do/Grocery list notebook, my meal planning/fitness notebook, my personal goal* notebook, and my blog idea notebook.

If I don’t write down everything I need to remember, a lot of things will be forgotten.

*My personal goal notebook is my way of developing good habits. Each page is devoted to one day and I have to check boxes for things like drinking X amount of water, flossing, taking my vitamins, and stretching.

2. I make (Healthy!) comfort food.

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My favorite evening snack right now is popcorn.  NOT out of one of those “butter”-lined bags with gobs of grease and sodium.  I buy the bags of plain corn kernels (they’re cheaper, too!) and pop 3 tablespoons in a brown paper bag that I’ve taped shut. Then I separate the popcorn into 2 bowls since I like flavor variety…both are sprayed with cooking spray, then 1 bowl is topped with stevia and brown sugar, and the other gets seasoned salt and NOOCH.

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Not only is this surprisingly massive amount of popcorn well under 200 calories, but popcorn is actually a whole grain, as well! The biggest bonus, of course, is the taste.  And popcorn, I think is one of those American treats that we associate with relaxing and going to the movies, so it somehow relaxes me.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I make sure I get a LOT of fruits and vegetables and focus more than ever on eating just what’s good for my body.  It is all to easy to fall into the stress eating trap, but eating junk will only make you more stressed out when you’re suddenly faced with an empty Oreo’s container and crushing guilt.  If my eating habits are in order, I feel as if I still have a modicum of control in my life.

3. I stay active.

You probably aren’t surprised that exercise has made it’s way onto my stress-busting list.  But it works!  Whether I’m focused on my punching technique in Body Combat, paying attention to my breathing in Yoga, or reading a magazine while doing intervals on the elliptical, there is simply no time to think about other things.

4.  I clean!

Ask my family: I was never the neatest child. My room was clutter city! I’ve definitely improved, but when I’m super busy, things start piling up.  Water bottles in the car, laundry in my room, bobby pins on the floor…you get the idea.  But I really feel that getting rid of physical clutter helps me to get rid of mental clutter.It’s easier to focus when everything is in its proper place.

5. I get help and encouragement from those I love.

I’m mostly talking about Sean’s advanced boyfriend skills.  He is so good at listening to my problems and making me feel valuable and loved. Yesterday he took me to the art museum:

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Out to eat:

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Hacienda was fantastic!  We finished our fantastic meals and then Sean looked down at our plates and said, “We forgot to take pictures for your blog!” Oops! I did manage to get a picture of my sangria:

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Sean had “Sprimp Tampico con Nopales: Tender shrimp sauteed with cactus strips, tomatoes, onion, and bell peppers served on a bed of Spanish rice with Tampico sauce and melted Monterey jack cheese.” He loved it!  I ate his cactus and he let me take the leftover rice home to throw on my salad today!

I had the “Roasted Tilapia Tacos: Marinated tilapia oven roasted with lime, garlic and chile serrano served in soft corn tortillas with shredded cabbage and fresh avocado salsa and a side of roasted zucchini mixto.” FANTASTIC.  I knew I wanted this as soon as I saw the words “chile serrano” and “guacamole.” I did without the corn tortillas though.

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This restaurant has lots of healthy options, and denoted the vegetarian options with little ‘v’s.  I love when restaurants do that!  However, I went with fish (which, other than yogurt, is the only non-vegan product I consume) since a lot of the vegetarian options were loaded with egg and cheese. It’s a great place for gluten-free folks, too!

After dinner, we did some mourning shopping at Borders:

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Just looking at this picture makes me feel a little sick! The Kindle is cool and all, but I hope it’s not the entire future of reading.

I’m so sad that the store is closing! It’s always been my favorite bookstore, and I even worked there at the Seattle’s Best Café!  I also basically lived there on weekends while I was in high school.  At least Sean bought me a book!

Alrighty, folks.  Time for work!  Although it sounds counterintuitive, working at Smoothie King is great for getting my mind off other things, although it can definitely be stressful there, too!

Question for you (please feel free to leave comments on this post!): How do you get rid of your stress? I’d love to hear your best tips!

A few other things that help me out stress-wise: a nice cup of coffee (caffeine doesn’t give me jitters – I can drink a cup of coffee and go straight to bed!), reading, and spending time with my puppies!

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