5 Ways to Handle Stress (That Don’t Include Eating)

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We all face stressful situations in our lives, some are minor (like a forgotten umbrella in the rain) and some are major (like our health, safety, and security). Stress can often make our hearts pound, our muscles go tense, our teeth clench, and our breathing more rapid. We feel stress physically as well as emotionally.

Unfortunately, many people turn to eating in order to combat stress. This leads not just to a bad habit, but often to weight gain and obesity. For gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and gastric band patients, learning new ways to deal with stress (other than eating) can be essential. Overeating after bariatric surgery can lead to even more problems, such as GI upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight gain.

We’ve gathered five alternatives to help gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients handle stress more productively and help them continue on their journey of weight loss and improved health and well being.

Deep Breathing

Focus on taking long, deep breaths to calm yourself. Close your eyes and disengage your mind from whatever stressful situation you are facing by imagining your breath going in through your nose, inflating your lungs, and being pushed back out through your mouth. When you’ve calmed down you should notice your heart rate will be slower and your tension will be reduced. The best part of this technique is it can be done anywhere- at home, in the car in a parking lot, at work, lying in your bed- meaning the stress can be dealt with immediately.

Take a Walk

Between the exercise, forward movement, fresh air, and time to think, a walk can be a great stress reliever. It can give you time to review what went wrong, what you can change, and how to set a game plan to prevent the stressor in the future.

Get Organized

Sometimes we do it to ourselves. We forgot something because we didn’t write it down or an important paper got lost in a pile. Getting organized can solve a problem and prevent it from happening again. Or, if organizing had nothing to do with your stressor, at least you will know that one part of your life is neat, tidy, and unstressful.

Get your Frustration Out

Hit a punching bag, take a kickboxing class, scrub your bathroom grout, hammer some nails, dig a hole and plant a tree, or cut back some bushes and snap some branches. Get your frustration out in a productive way. You will feel better.

Body Scan

You probably don’t even realize how tense you are when you are under stress. This technique involves breathing and muscle relaxation. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Next, mentally scan through your whole body, starting with the top of your head, your face, your shoulders, your arms and hands, your abdomen, your legs and feet and notice where your body is showing tension and relax it. You may not have even realized that you started with your eyes shut tight, your mouth affixed in a line, or your fists clenched, but find the tension in your body and relax it. Follow up with some deep, cleansing breaths.

One, some, or all of these techniques may work for you. Try each technique and see which helps you feel more relaxed and less stressed about whatever situation is bothering you. Stress can be very damaging to the body, causing issues with breathing, your heart, and sleep disturbances. Take some time to relieve the stress and feel proud of yourself for not turning to emotional eating.

These suggestions are offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a Center of Excellence Surgeon specializing in gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band surgery. Dr. Shillingford’s reputation for excellent surgical skills and comfortable bedside manner attract patients from all over Florida, including Naples, Tampa, Sarasota, Port St. Lucie, Orlando, and Jacksonville. His bariatric weight loss patients receive top notch care during their hospital stay at Northwest Medical Center’s Center for Excellence in Bariatric Surgery, where he serves as Medical Director, and during their follow up care in his Boca Raton office. Dr. Shillingford is committed to helping his patients improve not only their weight, but also their lives.

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