If you read my blog about my son leaving for boot camp then you know this mommas heart has held so many emotions this month that it is about to burst. Stress is a major enemy in any healthy lifestyle change and although I’m glad to say that we stuck with our healthy eating plan, I struggled big time.
Food has always been a huge comfort for me, it’s my go to when I have something awesome to celebrate. It’s my companion when I’ve had a rough day and my constant friend when I’m alone.
Watching my son prepare for this new season of his life was amazing, he was ready for it, I was not. I wanted to use food in all the ways I always had. Celebrate this new season, comfort my aching heart, remove the pain of loneliness, ease the reality of letting go. Without my usual go to treats, I was at a bit of a loss. Breaking old habits is hard, creating new ones in the midst of raw emotions… even harder.
I know this new season will be incredible. I’m always amazed at how God works it all out, but there is pain in the process and I was wanting some sugar to ease it all. To top it off my husband was away at a conference and had no choice but to eat out for most of a week and the way our schedule worked we ended up eating out for 3 days after he got home. It’s a wonder we didn’t gain all the weight back.
But we didn’t.
He ended up only gaining a pound and I didn’t get on the scale. Ignorance is not bliss but I have to be honest here. With all the emotions I was dealing with, I didn’t think I could handle the scale at this moment so I made the decision to take a breath and stay off of it. I decided that instead I would celebrate the fact that we had both stuck to our plan completely. Food cooked at restaurants may not have the same healthy standards that we have at home, so no matter how hard we try weeks like this will come and I knew that I needed to make a decision to be proud of our progress and move forward.
So how did I deal with the stress? I’ve compiled 5 things that helped me through.
1. I took a lot of hot baths.
I spent hours in that tub and when I say hot bath I mean that if I step out of the bath and I can’t see a difference in the parts that were in the water and the parts that were not- we have a problem. (Yes, I do know that scalding hot baths may not be the health choice of the season, but I like it that way and it was better than eating a whole cheesecake which was plan B.)
I needed those baths. This was a time for me to turn all the lights off, light some candles, (I especially love those fake battery operated ones that look real) and turn on some great worship music. As I lay there, praying, worshiping, and sometimes crying, I found some peace. I laced my bath with Epson salts and essential oils, set a nice glass of wine on the side of the tub and soaked until I wrinkled. Those sweet peaceful aromas and that relaxing atmosphere did not take the stress away completely, but it did give me a much-needed reprieve.
2. A great book is a perfect getaway.
I love to read, but I don’t take the time for it anymore. So this month I did. I had a couple books that were recommended to me by a ladies book club at my church and I decided to dive in. These books were in the Christian self-help genre and what I found was exactly what I needed. I found encouragement, laughter, tears, and motivation. They were not diet books, they were books for life that held so many nuggets of truth that I had to make more mental notes that I can hold. Currently I’m re-reading one of those books. If I can fill my mind with the good things, then there won’t be room for the bad right?
3. Prayer works.
I know that I already mentioned prayer in the bath part of this blog, but this topic needs a section all its own. Prayer gives hope, help and a way to let go of stress. I have always been a praying woman. Lately though, I’ve been distracted in prayer and realized it was time to really refocus. I started writing in my prayer journal again, and I began to truly get alone with God. I need Him always but life gets in the way more than I want to admit. The bible says to give God our cares because he cares for us. How can I give anything to God if I’m not praying. Each time I’d pray- there would be peace. Like most of you, once I was done praying, the peace would fade. Life has a way of doing that to us, so I prayed often and held on tight.
4. Understanding that Good Stress is still stress.
My son leaving was what I would consider good stress. This was his dream, something he fought for, something he had overcome many obstacles to accomplish. I was and am very proud of him and extremely excited for him, but I quickly realized that no matter how “good” this was, I couldn’t control the anxiety it caused. What would my new life look like without him in the day to day? What was my purpose now that most of my kids were raised and gone? Who am I without them? These are not bad questions, but they are stressful ones. I needed to get to a place where asking them didn’t cut like a knife and seem like an ending to a season I adored. Instead I needed to ask them honestly and prayerfully and find a way to see this new season as the beginning of an amazing new chapter.
5. I need something to look forward too.
I need something to be excited about. It doesn’t have to be expensive or outlandish, it just has to be on the calendar. Something I can shoot for, mark off the days for. My husband and I have “date nights” a couple times a month where we literally just go out to dinner and then get groceries. I know your jealous, (LOL) but hear me out. Just knowing that I have a night away, a night where we will have a quiet dinner, a time to talk, and a reset on our weeks- this gets me through the tough days. In a few weeks we have a whole night away planned and I’m super excited about that as well. It’s amazing how 1 night away can reset a weary soul. What about you? What works for you? What doesn’t? Throughout this journey I’m realizing more and more how unique we all are and how incredibly cool that is. My husband handles stress very differently than I do, instead of a hot bath he sinks deeply into his recliner and gets his mind on a computer game or watches a movie. If life gets overwhelming for him, that’s where you’ll find him. He has been there a lot lately. Letting go is hard. Adjusting to new seasons filled with uncertainty and change- even harder. So we learn to lean into God, we manage our emotions to the best of our ability and we keep moving forward. One step today equals two tomorrow and after a while we look back and we realize how far we’ve come.