Dealing with stress in a healthy way

I’m starting week 7 of my journey to fitness. The excitement has worn off and some days exercising is just plain hard work. I’ve seen progress, especially in the first few weeks — I’m down ten pounds and five inches. I’ve hit the first plateau, where my body is saying, “Hey, wait a minute. Let’s not starve ourselves here.” The good news is I’m being consistent with my eating and exercising. The bad news is the numbers haven’t changed lately and sometimes it’s easy to be discouraged.


I’ve been thinking about how I arrived at the place where I weighed more than I ever had before. For me it was about stress and unhealthy responses to stress in my life. Here are things I find stressful:

  • Balancing everything – being a wife, parenting, writing, teaching music, household tasks, community involvement, etc. Quite often I find myself feeling guilty – I should have done more, made myself available, etc.
  • Relationship issues – By nature I’m a people pleaser. It makes me feel good when I am able to help others. It makes me feel bad when there’s conflict between me and somebody else.
  • Home renovations – Kendall and I have been married for over 20 years. We’ve been doing some sort of renovations for over 18 years. I’m the type of person that likes a place for everything and everything in its place. I’ve learned to be more flexible with my children. However, it still bothers me when I constantly feel like I’m living “out of a suitcase”.

I know that I will always have stress in my life. Some things I’ll be able to change, and with other things I’ll have to choose to cope. I find that identifying the things which stress me out is the first step to dealing with them in a healthy way. When I feel stressed, I often crave my comfort foods – chocolate, sweetened yogurt, cheesecake, and other sweet things. In the past few weeks I’ve started training myself to slow down and think before I eat. Here are some things I’ve found helpful:

  • Drinking water – often I’m thirsty rather than hungry
  • Choosing healthy snacks – vegetables or protein
  • Allowing myself an occasional treat
  • Choosing an activity to get my mind off eating and onto something else
  • Paying attention to serving sizes
  • Chewing slowly and enjoying the taste of my food
  • Praying
  • Filling my mind with healthy thoughts

What about you? What stresses you out and how do you handle it?


  1. I find I often eat as a way of self-nurturing. I’m comfortable with being an introvert, but it leaves me isolated as well. When I need a pick-me-up, or encouragement, or want a reward for tackling something hard, there’s no one but the fridge to fill that gap. I did make changes. I dropped 80 lbs about 6 years ago, and have managed to keep it off. It can be a struggle, though.

    Your list of triggers is helpful. I wonder if I should do a conscious evaluation of my eating triggers once a month, so I can keep my life in balance? And I need to post the pro-active steps on my friend … er… my fridge. LOL

  2. jencudmore says:

    Oh, it’s so easy to find comfort in food! I, too, have been working in those areas to make better choices and it definitely makes a difference. Good for you Ruth – keep up the good work!

  3. Bobbi, Thanks for sharing your experiences. Good for you! I’m aiming to take about 50 lbs off, so I’m just starting my journey. I like your idea of posting the pro-active steps on the fridge.

  4. Great post once more. I like how you listed the things you are doing and aiming for and also giving yourself a snack on occasions. I don’t always handle stress the best but learning to not turn to unhealthy choices when stressed. Small steps eventually lead to big steps, it all takes time. Blessings as you continue on your journey to better health.
    Marilyn(OBS Group Leader)

  5. Thanks Marilyn. I find it better to allow myself an occasional treat than to totally deny myself and then binge on sweets. When I know I can have a treat I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself. It sounds silly, but it works for me 🙂

  6. lynn fincher says:

    I really enjoyed your post Ruth and can relate to those triggers too! I know there are times those comfort foods and snacks are calling me one at a time!! LOL!! I have been working the process one day at a time and doing exercises everyday. I thank God for my small victories and I too have to slow down and think before I eat.. Blessings to you Ruth.. 🙂

  7. Ruth I really enjoyed your post and found it really helpful. I am struggling with a few issues in my life and I am going to apply some of the things you do.
    Love Elna Group 12 Abby Nardi

  8. Well Ruth – You hit the nail on the head! I can relate…the only difference is I am single mom, and all the “stuff” falls to me…which stresses me. I appreciate your list of things that help! Thank you for your candor, and for your blog post. Blessings, Teresa

  9. Oh, those stress triggers! As we root them out, peace will fill those stressing moments. Thank you for sharing! Check out my #beneficial post at:

  10. I too have found a regimens that’s working,mand I’m finding comfort in the discipline and obedience. One thing I love about my exercise time, is that I’ve made it my prayer &!meditation kind of time. I put it on my spiritual songs, and I clear my mind of the day and I purpose solely on God. And He is in my heart and my mind with tools for my life. And it’s amazing how my life is changing. It’s not an emotional change but I find that the actions and the things that I and doing a resulting and all sorts of different thought patterns and different actions that spillover into areas of my life that are having positive effects.

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