What Now? Self-Care for Uncertain Times

By:

Where to even begin?!

There is no denying that a lot has changed for everyone in the past 30 days. We all seem to be adjusting to a new way of life and, perhaps, a new way of taking care of ourselves.

Green Mountain is no stranger to change nor the concept of uncertainty, which is what we all seem to be dealing with right now. Over the years, we’ve had countless conversations with women about change, which usually sounded like:

“What will happen if I stop dieting?”

“What if I never lose this weight?”

“How do I know this will actually work?”

We’re not saying we have all the answers, but we’ve spent some time with uncertainty and we want to share what we do know.

While often scary and sometimes painful, uncertainty can be beautiful as it forces us to challenge old thinking patterns and adapt to new situations. Just think about all the professionals who, in the last few weeks, were forced to learn how to use Zoom everyday to get their job done — beautiful and painful!

Although it can be a bumpy road getting there, uncertainty usually brings about change.

This month, we’re hitting the restart button on our renowned blog, A Weight Lifted, so that we, too, can join the virtual effort to keep you connected all while encouraging health and wellbeing during this time — and also, to help make this uncertain road a little less bumpy.

Let’s go.

Guess What? Stress Eating Isn’t a Bad Thing

For many, food is a main source of comfort, and why wouldn’t it be? When we’re stressed, our body reacts — our muscles tighten, our heart rate increases and our breath becomes shallow. It’s our evolutionary response to a perceived threat, and as humans, we’re programmed to problem solve a way to get rid of our stress.

Back in the day, our solution was seeking safety while running from the tiger. Today, we’re not running from tigers, but stress is still stress, and our body holds the same physiological response. The solution today, however, is often eating.

And, rightly so! Food triggers an important response in our body. Eating activates our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our Rest & Digest System. When activated, our brain tells our muscles to relax, our heart rate slow down and our breath to even out.  So why would you blame yourself for turning to food in times of high stress? Emotional eating works.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: emotional eating works until it doesn’t. The issue isn’t the food or the fact that you’re eating, but it’s that the food and eating is your only source of relief.

In the words of Stacie Orrico, there’s gotta be more…

Pro-tip: When it comes to nourishing yourself well during this time, make sure you’re feeding yourself regularly. We can’t emphasize it enough! It is so easy to forget to feed ourselves especially when our usual routine has gone haywire.

Self-Care: A Necessity for Coping with Crisis

At Green Mountain, we view self-care as a necessity and not a luxury. We’re not recommending you indulge in the $100+ massage every time you feel stressed. Instead, we highlight the importance of regularly and intentionally putting yourself first in an effort to maintain or improve your wellbeing.

For those of us who aren’t in the habit of putting ourselves first, we love the idea of creating and using a coping kit to practice caring for ourselves. A coping kit is a great way to combine various forms of self-care (including food!).

When it comes to creating a coping kit, it’s important to remember a few things:

1. Engage the Senses

As humans, we experience the world through our senses. From an early age, we keep an internal record of what we like and don’t like.  For example, we know what songs or movies make us feel good. We also know what smells or flavors we don’t like. It’s no surprise then that our senses are directly connected to the pleasure center in our brains and have a direct impact on our mood.

When thinking about what to add to your kit, ask yourself questions like: what do I enjoy looking at or listening to? Outline all of the five senses and see what you can come up with under each one!

Some of you may be asking, “but what about taste?”

Taste can often be a tricky sense to use when practicing self-care as it’s one that often been overused. Start by making a list of the foods, flavors and textures you enjoy. When you decide to use ‘taste’ to cope with stress, remember to practice mindful eating! For a more in-depth information on mindful eating, check out 3 Strategies for Success in Eating Mindfully!

2. Try Experimenting

If we could offer one piece of advice, it would be “experiment, experiment, experiment!” What works for you one day, may not work for you the next, which is why we encourage you to try out different things.

Our orientation for newcomers every Monday morning would outline the week’s schedule and highlight the different movement opportunities we had planned for the week. This was not so women would go to every single movement class, but instead, offered as a way to try out different classes.

The more options you have in your coping kit the better — not because you to have to use all of them, but because we know having more tools to rely on in the moment helps to successfully manage stress and practice self-care.

3. Get Creative & Make It Your Own

At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we held a workshop where women spent time picking out different items for their coping kits. Some women chose to decorate the boxes we provided. However, some women chose not to use a box at all and decided to display their items once they arrived home.

We encourage you to get creative with your coping kit. We want you to want to use your coping kit when feeling any negative emotions like overwhelm, stress or anxiety.

So, What Will Help You Remember to Use Your Coping Kit?

When overwhelming emotions strike, we tend to revert back to old habits. This is one the reasons why behavior change can be so hard. Simply put, think about how you want to use your coping kit.

Maybe you keep your kit by your bed and use the peppermint essential oil when you first wake up or the lavender essential oil right before you go to bed. Maybe you keep parts of your coping kit around the house, like bottles of your favorite lotion by the kitchen and bathroom sinks — and when it’s time to use it, spend a moment massaging the lotion into your hands before you rush to the next thing on your to-do list.

This isn’t about creating a new habit to master or another thing to put on your to-do list. This is about finding moments in your day to lessen the stress and put yourself first. This is about self-care.

For more ideas on what to include in your survival kit, check out our blog post on How to Incorporate Self-Care into Your Life. Of course, don’t forget to make them social distancing friendly!

How Can We Support You?

There’s a lot of virtual noise out there right now. We have some exciting content we’re working on behind the scenes to share with you this month, but we want to know what you want to see!

Leave us a comment below. We’re here for your self-isolating, social distancing, quarantining needs!


2 responses to “What Now? Self-Care for Uncertain Times”

  1. Suzanne Red Matlosz says:

    I love the idea of a coping box! Thank you so much for this idea. I just made one up using a plastic crate.
    Scented candle, Scented eye mask, Sugar free mints, Herb teas along with my favorite mug, A couple of books by Agatha Christie, a sudoku book, and a pretty pen.
    I’ll add to it as I think of something else.

    • Lesley Wayler, MSW says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      It is so great to hear that you enjoyed making your coping box. I hope you enjoy using it even more! The wonderful thing about them is that they can be added to and changed as your needs change. Love a good candle and tea!

      Lesley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author

Lesley Wayler, MSW

As a Master of Social Work, Lesley Wayler is passionate about helping individuals struggling with disordered eating and body image. She is the granddaughter of our founder Thelma Wayler and has been fortunate enough to grow up with the philosophies taught at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Before pursuing her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, Lesley received a Bachelors of Arts in media communications from Austin College in 2011. She works to combat weight stigma and wants to learn about and contribute to furthering the treatment of binge eating to help individuals suffering from the disorder. She has extensive training in mindfulness, including workshops in mindful eating, self-compassion and stress management.

View Author Page