About 4 years ago, I remember standing in my office being unable to pull myself away from the chocolate bars stashed in the cabinet after Halloween. It was a busy afternoon in the PT clinic. I grabbed a candy bar and went to work with my patients. But EVERY time I went back to the computer to type in a note, I would grab another one…often times, grabbing 3 or 4 candy bars every hour. This went on ALL afternoon!

Then I remembered how much better I had felt a couple years prior. I had decided enough is enough. I started my health journey by paying attention to what I was eating, tried some yoga, and just became more mindful all around. So I decided to go back to those habits that I used to beat stress when I was feeling my best. I’m certainly not perfect. There are definitely occasions when I fall of the rails again, but I don’t get stuck there anymore.

Here are the things that help me get back on track in the moments I catch myself falling apart…

Stop and put things in perspective.

So many times, the things we think are disastrous are more in our minds than in reality. I try to stop and identify what is making me feel stressed. Once it’s identified, I can determine if it is real or not. If it is real, I can come up with a plan to address it. But more often than not, it is the unlikely worst case scenario running around in my head that is causing me stress.

Reach for some water.

I have found this to be so helpful. Instead of reaching for candy, I grab my water bottle. It hydrates me, which is something that a lot of us struggle with anyway, and by the time I finish 12 oz, I am full and don’t need any more junk. It also gives me time to sort through what is really going on.

Sweat it out.

One of the best ways I find to burn off stress is exercise. And the sweatier the better! Sometimes it’s putting in my earbuds and going out for a run and sometimes it’s going downstairs to my basement and finishing an intense, 30-minute workout. When I run, one of the things that helps me is listening to a podcast. The ones I find most helpful are the ones that are super motivating and address whatever it is I am worried about. For example, when I was stressed about talking in front of a large group, I found a podcast with Gabrielle Bernstein that talked about the rituals she goes through before speaking gigs. It gave me an action plan that I could focus on.

What do you use to deal with stress? Share your tips or struggles in the comments.