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Work it Out: Dealing with Stress

Let’s take a break from giveaway a-palooza, shall we?

Then again, you should enter and win a ton of awesome stuff.

Then again, you should enter and win a ton of awesome stuff.

I love giving things away because, let’s be honest, I feel like you all deserve some compensation from listening to my ramblings all the time. And I love putting together things and making presents for people. I guess it is kind of like me making Alex’s lunch (I did a really cool new one for him this week, btw, details to come, obviously). But as much as I would like to send you all little presents of goodness all the time, I can barely keep up with my own life right now.


It seems so silly to say that. That I can’t keep up with my own life. I feel like the topic of stress is circulating the blogosphere at the moment. People stressed about their goal times. Stress about getting the kids to school, lunches packed, laundry done. Stress on our bodies through training for a race, or just simple training for the marathon of life. Stress to eat “right,” whatever that may be. And then there are the posts that discuss how to deal with stress. Some people go out and take a long, methodical run. Others lift really heavy things made of iron. Some do intervals that take them to the edge of feeling alive and then back off and push the limit again. Other options? Taking the dog out for a walk (I don’t think this is an option for the Zoe-ster), chatting with loved ones, cooking, reading, taking a bath.

Another good option, IMHO

Another good option, IMHO

I have gone through periods of immense stress in my life. And I have come to deal with them differently at different times. There were times when I would lash out, need to be physically…aggressive?… either way, I needed to expend as much energy at one time as possible. I have gone through periods where I just need to be alone, thank you. Times when I just need to be with my friends and pretend whatever it is doesn’t exist. Sometimes I run, sometimes I go to yoga. And sometimes, I just sit, and work on anything but that which I should be working on. That isn’t very helpful and only makes the situation worse.

In looking at my own responses to stress, as well as others, I have come to a single conclusion: the best adaptations and responses to stress are those that empower you to do something for yourself. And I use that word empower pointedly. Because after you empower yourself and clear out the clutter that is making you feel as if you don’t have enough headspace to deal with whatever it is that be stressin’ you out.


I can’t tell you how to go about clearing out your clutter. You know better than I do what is all up in your business. But here are a few general tips that I have found helpful in dealing with whatever may be bringing me down. Approach the stress as a workout of sorts, with a warm up, main event, and cool down.

  • Warm up: Start off by tackling something that is manageable but validating. When we warm up, we are preparing our body and mind to be able to handle and accommodate the load that we are about to place on it during our workout proper. Taking on a small project (as simple as cleaning out your inbox or making a grocery list for tomorrow) will help you start to tune in and focus on the later tasks by getting rid of the riffraff that is obscuring your main goal and making you feel stressed even if you don’t need to. Some people may say that this is avoidance. But I argue that rather it is just making you better equipped to handle the later load by getting you into a better head-space so that you can be more efficient in dealing with the main issue.
  • Principle workout: Break down the main event into manageable circuits. Many of us break up our long runs in this way–it is mentally easier to think of running 5 milers than to run a 20 miler. You can’t do HIIT minus the intervals, can you? No. You break it down. Enjoy that rest. Luxuriate in it. Then pop up and get back to it. Believe me, if you have pulled your entire closet out onto your bed, you will have to complete the task sooner rather than later.
  • Cool Down: Recognize when you are past the climax of the project and are working to the final conclusion. Push hard to that peak, and then start to bring everything down. Start to think about what you need to do next (I mean this in a, “what am I having for dinner?” fashion), and start to transition your brain back to the rest of your life. Let the adrenaline of your effort start to subside as you reengage with reality. And afterward, go getchoself some froyo. You deserve it!

fist pump 2

There, isn’t that better? Even those of us who workout nearly every day have days that we just don’ wanna. But we nearly always feel some measure of better after. So next time you find yourself in a similar situation, treat it like a workout. If you have a goal, if you’ve set an intention, well, now is the time to follow through. It may not be finished tonight, it may not be finished ever (my closet certainly isn’t), but that is, to an extent, the beauty of it.

What is your “workout” that you are facing?

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