On Monday I wrote the biggest and most important exam I have ever taken. I passed the exam and earned a professional designation. Obviously, I’m insanely happy to have accomplished this but since Monday, I have been feeling really off. By “off” I mean the following:
- Trouble sleeping despite being exhausted when I go to bed
- Trouble controlling my appetite
- As a consequence of not having good appetite control, I feel bloated
- An underlying anxiety that I can’t quite put my finger on
- A sense that things are out of control
All of these symptoms are the result of being stressed for a long period of time. The 6 weeks or so leading up to my exam were mentally exhausting and as the exam date got closer, my stress level increased. Mentally and physically, I just did what I had to do to achieve this goal and the price for that is stress.
So how do you combat this? How do you get back to feeling in control?
- Acknowledge all of your feelings. Do a brain dump of all the things that are bothering you and write them all down. Sometimes, even just acknowledging the things that are bothering you can make you feel better.
- If your eating is feeling out of control, reduce the number of carbs you are eating and extend the amount of time between your meals. This will help balance your hunger hormones. The thing not to do is eat tiny meals. Eat large, satisfying meals that are low carb…just space them out at least 6 hours in between. For some people, this may mean only eating two meals in a day.
- If you have some tasks that need completing, make a list of those and tackle the one that is bothering you the most first. This is an interpretation of Pareto’s Law: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the issues. Usually, once you accomplish the main thing that is bothering you, you will start to feel better.
- Do some restorative exercise. Go for a walk or a hike with beautiful scenery or take a yoga class. You want to get your blood circulating in your body without stressing it out even more.
- Connect with friends and family. If you’ve been feeling a little isolated, reach out to someone and say hi.
- Be patient. Your body needs time to recover. Focus on nurturing yourself and getting back to good health. Getting angry with yourself and trying to strong arm yourself into “being good” will only add to your elevated stress level.
Those are all my tips for getting back on track and recovering from a stress event. Have you ever tried any of these?