Age Of Worry

I’ve discovered, over the course of learning about my body, that many of the same things that thwart weight loss efforts also slow us down in other areas of life.

One of those challenges is stress. Biologically speaking, stress produces cortisol, and cortisol can stop weight loss — or cause weight gain because of its effects on the body. The solution? Lessen stress. Easy, right? Ha! Far from it. It’s not like most of us were ever taught such things by our parents or in school; we’re simply told to deal with it. Some skills are learned; others are innate.

I can tend to be an anxious person by nature, which doesn’t help. I worry about scenarios that may never happen. I automatically take on burdens that shouldn’t be mine. My mind frolics at 3 am, showing me everything I’ve ever screwed up in my life and what I’m bound to screw up in the future. While that’s useful in writing fiction, it’s not so great when I’d rather be in deep sleep and dreaming of sun-sparkling oceans.

In other words, I increase my own stress levels. And at 60, it’s a struggle to change those habits that have always resulted in compounding worry. They’re ingrained. I have to catch myself before agreeing or volunteering to do things that create more stress for me. I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to say no, to set boundaries, to give myself time to find solutions to situations that require it, to figure out when I’m capable of meeting a challenge and accepting the knowledge when I’m not. I also have to guard against creating anxiety; I have spent so much of my life in a mental place where pressure was a constant, that I often catch myself inserting stress where there is none.

This is one of the many reasons I’ve regained some weight. Many of my actual pressures are things that taken by themselves, are relatively easy to solve. It’s when I have far too many of those things at once that I become overwhelmed, thinking of all I need to do and accomplish. I compound matters when choking on moving forward. Sometimes that’s my fault; often, it’s simply the circumstances of life that create waves of projects at times when I’m already carrying a load.

Sleep. Exercise. Self-care. Time management. Releasing what isn’t mine to solve. Being realistic about my own capabilities. Understanding that instead of doing a little for a billion projects just generates more work in the long run, and I’m far better off breaking down single projects into manageable chunks and devoting my time to them when possible. Like the old joke says — How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. In that light, doing what I can to reduce the herd of elephants helps a ton. It takes time I have to be willing to give instead of freezing. And in the meantime, I have to protect and nurture the small bits of myself that keep stress at bay.

Not only does managing such things help me with weight control, but such things reduce my worry in all areas. I can sleep well at night. I don’t feel guilty about taking the occasional day for myself if I know my obligations have been met. I feel happier and more satisfied.

What — me, worry? 😉 I know that as I work toward handling all of these items and move forward, I’ll make progress on my goals and be the better for it.

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