Dear Stress, Let’s Break Up

Since the beginning of the year, just like millions of other people, I’ve been working hard to live a healthier lifestyle. For the most part I would say I’ve been succeeding, generally choosing more healthful foods, exercising 3-4 times per week (sure beats my average of zero over the past 6 months), and focusing on a healthy head space. If you’ve been following along for a while now, last fall was just about the hardest few months I’ve ever lived through. Being a family affected directly by cancer + other illnesses associated with treatment/recovery is difficult. Emotions run rampant and the attempt to compartmentalize feelings and reactions to events is heightened. Couple all of that with a new job, an active/growing baby boy and trying to maintain a happy relationship and life – and my health really hit the skids.

I learned a lot about stress, what my coping mechanisms are and just how much I can take. Now that my dad is home and healing well, I can reflect on those few months with a clear viewpoint. I will admit I fell apart more times that I can count on two hands. I was guilty of becoming a shell of a person a lot of evenings when Dane went to bed and we were able to relax on the couch. I was distracted, irritable and just not a very nice person. BUT, all things considered, I feel that I handled the stress pretty well. I tried with all my might to stay positive, finding the perspective and remaining calm.

But when January hit – I knew I needed to make some positive changes, to keep myself going and to heal a little bit. I wrote a post about goals for the New Year over at Lake Country Family Fun – you can read it here, but my main points were a lot like what you hear many people talking about: health, wellness, diet etc. One main goal I didn’t really focus on was keeping my stress at bay.

Last week at work, we had a wellness lunch as part of our overall program my company implemented at the top of the year. We were treated to a really delicious and healthful lunch from Corner Bakery, and I learned a lot too. I want to share some of the key takeaways – because it got me thinking.


Everything you do is a stress on your body – some are bad, some are good, but they’re all stresses. Duh, right? Seems like a no brainer… but I had never thought about it like that. I always associate the word “stress” with negativity and anxiety. But just like work worries, or stressing about money, stresses can be good things too. A great sweat session, attending a seminar or a half an hour of yoga and meaningful breathing are good stressors. The more of these good stresses you can add to your life, the better.

Create a stop doing list. This one was impactful to me. People always create lists of things they want to do, goals or ideals – or even as big as the bucket list. These things are usually positive, fun or add happiness to your life. But, in everyday life (at work or at home), so many people take on more than they can handle, resulting in stress and eventual breakdowns. So instead of continuing to participate in these activities, put them on the list to stop doing. A good example for me is to stop making excuses about exercising. I KNOW how good it will make me feel once I start, so why with the excuses? Add that to the list.

Negative thoughts = negative chemicals released = bad health. The more you focus on the infinite ways in which the body or mind can fail you, the more likely you are to experience physical symptoms.

Awareness + Actions = Results. Recognize an issue, make a plan to address it and see a (likely) positive outcome. I think the piece that’s missing here is staying motivated, because without that – it’d be all talk.

One other thing I’ve been trying to implement is setting intentions for my day. I do this a LOT during my 30 minute commute to work. I probably look like a crazy person talking to myself in the car, but it helps me to focus on positivity, make an action plan for the day and brainstorm ideas to stick with it.

We’ve got a busy week ahead – Dane is turning ONE on Saturday, so I’m busy finalizing details for his birthday bash (post to come), and trying to grapple with the idea that my baby isn’t really a baby anymore. Prepare for a sappy mama over here!

Have a great week and remember to think positively. Until next time!

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Wisconsin wife and mama to Dane (4) and expecting baby girl in May. Navigating life post-cancer. Lover of food, red wine and laughs. Forever grateful for my wonderful life.

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