When Stress Takes Over – Where Does Love Go?

Most of you probably know that death of a loved one, moving, and divorce are rated as among the most stressful life events?  But what you may not realize is that even fun-filled, exciting events can also be stressful.  Remember the last time you planned a vacation, organized a big celebration or started a new job or business venture?

When we think about love and loving relationships, most of us tend to gloss over the fact that we will encounter lots of different stressful circumstances and events, some expected, some unexpected, some negative and some that are positive.  How we respond to and handle each of the circumstances that life throws at us will actually determine how much love we feel in our life. 

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There is a question each of us needs to ask, preferably at a time when we are calm and relaxed and life seems to be good.  The question is this:

How do I respond to my life stresses
and is there a better way?

For me, I have realized that when my life is going along smoothly I can easily choose the most healthy, nutritious food, get a hefty amount of daily and weekly exercise, fall asleep with ease and sleep till the morning, and wake up ready to face the next day. However, when something is not working right, e.g., a leaky hurricane window followed by mold and all kinds of construction workers coming and going and not keeping their appointments, I have discovered that it is quite difficult to stick to my healthy routine.

Suddenly I find myself seeking comfort foods like mashed potatoes and gooey desserts.  Then I feel more tired and it becomes difficult to make it to the health club.  Then my mood becomes more erratic and if things become unpredictable, my anxiety level increases.

What I talking about here is the way I personally respond to stress in terms of my healthy living goals.  But what about relationships?  When all seems well, I drive my car with ease, don’t get upset so much by other drivers.  I stop at a restaurant for lunch and sit patiently if the waiter is not immediatley attending to me.  However, when my stress level is high, everyone who comes in contact with me can feel it.

Our energetic state of being is apparent to everyone who enters our energy field.  So I may think I am easily handling my stress but anyone who is around me will sense that something is going on.

What happens when we live with someone we say we love?  When life appears to be going well and we are not upset, we can be so lovey dovey with our partner.  But what happens when we are reprimanded by someone at work, when we have car problems and not enough money to fix it, when our children are misbehaving, when our spouse is making unfair demands, or when we are worried about our health?  Anything can become a big stress in our life and it can become a challenge for even the most loving couple to maintain those loving feelings.

So getting back to my first question,

How do I respond to my life stresses
and is there a better way?

For me, the quickest way to soothe myself is with comfort food.  Even alcohol does not usually do the trick because it contains too much sugar.  But even though I love meditating, reading and working out, stress and anxiety seem to temporarily push that aside in favor of a quick and soothing solution.

But is that a good solution?  Often, the way we choose to handle stress is not the best solution but something that provides a temporary fix and actually may exaggerate the problem.  Eating the wrong food, or too much of it, just to feel better in the moment can then lead to an upset stomach and difficulty sleeping at night.  Most of us turn to a familiar habit, like over-indulging in alcohol, inappropriately sharing intimate details of our relationship with others, cheating, gambling or whatever  is our habit of choice.

Right in the middle of the worst stress, that is the time to remember our long term goals.  Do I really want to eat all that heavy, fattening comfort food when my long term goal is to lose weight?  Do I really want to let all my emotions out on my partner when my goal is to build a long life together?  Is cheating really going to bring me comfort when I feel neglected by the one I love?

What is your habit, your modus operandi, your easy way out, when life stress seems to take over?  And have you found a better way to cope?

Please share your thoughts and personal wisdom in the comments below.

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Warmly,

Dr. Erica

 

 

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Dr. Erica Goodstone is a Spiritual Relationship Healing Expert helping men and women heal their bodies and their relationships through love. Having presented her comprehensive relationship healing programs throughout the U.S. and Canada over several decades, she has helped literally 1000's of men and women to heal through learning how to love. Dr. Erica believes "Where There is Love There IS a Way". When you love, accept, listen and pay attention to your body, trust your own sense of what you truly desire, and strive to understand, appreciate and really know the other people in your life, anything and everything is possible.

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37 thoughts on “When Stress Takes Over – Where Does Love Go?

  1. I think for me when I get stressed I work out less and start to indulge in comfort food, especially fast food or even sweets. I think my staff that works for me can see it as well as I am sure my demeanor changes a little.

    This article is most helpful and I feel like you are talking directly to me. I surely can take some ideas from it and be more mindful in the future of how to properly deal with my stress. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nathaniel,

      The key to being successful during moment of stress is to have a plan, in advance, for how you intend to cope when the stress builds. Without a plan, you will most likely revert to whatever is your habit of choice.

      Warmly,
      Dr. Erica

  2. Like most I have way to much stress in my life and comfort food is one of those stress relievers. For me I love those mini swiss rolls. I guess at the end of the day it is that sugar fix. When I was good as a kid I was given chocolate!

    Thanks for sharing

    Andy

    • Andy,
      Our body can handle a little sugar and sometimes that may be what it takes to calm you down when stress takes over. However, there are so many other ways to relax and clear our mind that improve our health rather than slowly diminishing it.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  3. Hi Erica,

    Well, I hate to say that I do sometimes “indulge in comfort food” when I am stressed out. I know that food is a very common tool that some people use to try when stressed and I know that food as a “cure” typically provokes even more stress. I am getting better as remembering that the comfort foods that I often turn to are laden with sugar and fat and are not the kind that makes me feel good when I finish it. If I indulge those cravings when I am stressed, I then feel more stressed, engage in more mindless eating and experience more remorse. When possible, I go on a hike or visit the beach.

    • Rachel,

      I have found that some comfort foods do provide a sense of comfort, but possibly because they have serotonin in them. This helps you to relax but then can make you sluggish and tired. Sometimes it helps in the short run but not something I would recommend as a daily diet. Taking a break before the stress gets too intense is also helpful. And nothing soothes me like watching the ocean waves go in and out.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  4. Hi Dr. Erica,

    Great topic. Many people suffers for not being able to handle stress as it should be. I too was a victim of ‘too much stress’ once not too long ago.

    Nowadays, I choose to control how I see and feel things. I often exercise (badminton for me), listen to the genre of music that I love and reading positive materials daily really helps.

    • Justin,
      Glad to hear that you have found a way to handle stress. It is a consistent issue that is handled easily when we are on top of it but can cause serious problems if we ignore it and let the stress build up.
      Warmly,
      Dr. Erica

  5. There is a lot of content to deal with in this post. I tend to go for the sugar during stress which compounds things. When I realize this I stop everything and prepare a healthy meal for myself. I try to look at my problem from outside looking in. I know I cannot change how whoever I am interacting with. I can only change my behavior. It takes all the energy I have to stay calm and to speak directly with knowing there will be objections along the way and calmly answering that. If I am in a conflict with someone it can knock me out for a few days because of my fibromyalgia. Usually these conflicts are of family origin. I do meditate and I write and write until I cannot write anymore and through that I work it out. One way I take care of myself is my love for movies.

    • Marilyn,
      Thanks for sharing openly about the way you tend to handle stress. It usually has something to do with other people and we cannot always change their actions or attitudes. All we can do is to find a way, within our self, to get back to state of calm and clear thinking.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  6. Great question Erica – very thought-provoking! How do we handle stress?

    For me, it’s recognizing the stress and understanding where it’s coming from. Often times, it takes reflection to truly know the source and reason behind it. Stress can disguise itself, meaning that if we only look at the surface, it’s easy to overlook the real reason behind it.

    • Rebekah,
      So true. If we don’t know the underlying reason for the stress, we might just react in inappropriate ways. But when we know the source, then we can more easily find the best way to handle it and to most effectively eliminate the cause or prevent it in the future.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  7. I guess first I have to recognize that I am stressing ….Then I can deal with it ….Usually when I’m feeling the effects of stress I have a hard time focusing on the task at hand….Trying to do too many things in a short amount of time…..and I tend to go for the comfort foods myself, ….Luckily my wife has no problem pointing out when I am stressing …..Then I re-think things and prioritize ……Then I make new “reachable” goals …..Thanks for making me ask myself these questions….sometimes its hard to look in the mirror….Smokey

    • Smokey,

      Our spouses often are the first to recognize our changed state of mind – the body language, the tone of voice, the attitude. Good for you that you respond without getting too defensive and then you re-think things and prioritize.

      Warmly,
      Dr. Erica

  8. I have to say this was very insightful Dr Erica. I think we are all more stressed than we think, and any behaviours or habits which are not based on giving ourselves the best life, are based on unbalanced elements in our lives, from any source. Small disturbances can cause times of over eating, drinking, or other habits you mention … but long term stress shows up when we see ourselves being too unhealthy, unfit, less social, less oomph after some time, due to pressures of work / home / family etc. This is something both I and my partner have realised after 10 years of running a retail business from home, when on all fronts we are lacking in organization and harmony because we have 2 opposite approaches to work and home!! But we have identified issues and are adjusting things.
    I see stress as when I feel un-balanced and not calm, and now, in the time I have, I like to be alone to be able to recoup my energy.
    I love to be by the beach too … but don’t get there often enough.
    Thank you for your insights 🙂
    Jacs

    • Jacs,

      I am living in a building that is directly on the ocean – and I still don’t get there often enough. The computer seems to take up a lot of my time and then events and activities that take me away from the ocean. But I do often stop to gaze at the ocean, watching the waves come in and barely seeing them go out again. That rhythm is so calming. It makes whatever else is going on appear almost meaningless.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  9. By reading your info I know you have heard you are what you eat. And your body works better if we put the right food in it.
    As for your partner it takes work in what ever way you go.
    Your info is very well put. Just keep up the good work.

    • Mae,

      Even though we may know that healthy food matters and that being loving and compassionate builds more solid relationships, in the moment of intense stress we often turn to something familiar, and not so positive. When we plan ahead and have strong intentions, however, we can override that instant gratification desire and make the better choice for the long term goals.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  10. Hi Erica. I have pretty much banished stress from my life. With chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I have had to. It’s just too hard on me physically. Here is what I learned to do to keep from getting stressed:

    I work from home, so I can set my own schedule
    I’ve learned to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty about it
    I go to bed when I’m not feeling well
    I settle down with a good mystery novel
    I make some music or listen to it
    I listen to self-hypnosis audios

    I’m not immune to stress, and I have been known to eat a lot of junk when I am, but I try to stop worrying, obsessing, or trying to control something I can’t control, which is the source of my stress. Thanks for this post.

    All the best,
    Leslie

    • Leslie,

      I love your simple techniques for dealing with, and preventing stress. Working from home can be wonderful or it can add its own type of stress. But I love that you just take the time to get into bed if you are not feeling right. I just did that today after a wonderful tennis game in the heat, foot cramps as a result. Took a nice relaxing jacuzzi and went to sleep. Felt much better afterwards.

  11. Music, watching how the sun flickers through the curtains in my office, hugging my Boston Terrier, all meditative states of being and just knowing – this too shall pass… I’ve come to trust myself over the years a great deal and I know feelings, events, are temporary.. it’s what I do with them. Writing in my journal also helps – in fact, it’s probably the one thing that has kept me sane, and grounded. Lovely post my friend …

    • Lesly,

      Good to know you have such simple and beneficial ways to ease stress. Hugging your Boston Terrier is a proven stress relief. Studies have shown that you can lower blood pressure and all sorts of goodies from just hugging an d stroking your pet. And writing gets it out of your head and onto paper – can be healing. But most of all, the reminder that this too shall pass lets us not feel so upset when the stress becomes intense.

  12. Hi this is a great article… i must admit that i can be a bit of a stress head, if something is on the horizon i don’t like i pretty much focus on it even i don’t want to and know i shouldn’t, i guess that comes down to character traits and up bringing, we after all are a product of our enviroment.
    Regards Dexter

    • Dexter,
      It’s not so bad if you feel compelled to focus on something you don’t like until you resolve it or solve the problem. But it is the way you handle the stress. If you are doing something proactive, that is great. But if you are worrying and doing something counterproductive just to ease your discomfort, that can create problems later on.
      Warmly,
      Dr. Erica

  13. I met my partner at a particularly stressful time in my life. He helped me through it so if potential stress causing events occur now I can talk to him about it and tell him how I feel. Sometimes it is enough for me just to simply state my mood (for example “I am frustrated with what I am doing”) and say I need a quick cuddle. Not that I feel stressed often and no where near the extent I used to do because of Cognitive Therapy Classes and group work I did 12 years ago.

    I avoid a build up of stress from frustration or boredom by leaving a task and coming back to it later with a fresh mind. I have power naps if tired, go out and do some gardening (that really clears my mind), go for walks by the beach or chill and watch a movie.

    I don’t find mundane household tasks mind clearing, but mindless type online tasks work well for me such as clearing out email accounts.

    I don’t like myself if I take my mood out on others so I avoid that at all costs.

    • Sue,
      I find it so interesting the way each of us has our own way of dealing with stress. For some of us, household chores clear our mind. For others, like myself, that is the last thing I want to do when I feel stressed. Exercise usually works well for me – except when the stress level is too high – and then it helps to talk with someone who is comforting or just to be close to nature. Where I am living now, I go outside to watch the ocean waves flow in toward the shore. That rhythm is calming and relaxing for me.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

      • We are both fortunate to live close to the sea but even when I lived in the midst of suburbia there were always pretty parks and nature reserves to be found to bring you close to nature. It was worth a short drive to find a peaceful place to walk.

  14. Hi Erica ,
    I think I am good with this here where I live ,not much
    stress and if I go outside and I am in the nature ,can make a walk
    or work in the garden .
    The most important I found is to ask what does it mean for me ,
    what is the cause of the stress and release .
    Nice article ,good to think about .
    Thank you

    • Erika,

      I like that you live in an environment that does not usually cause you stress. You have all those wonderful animals and your farm and such good food. And you exercise and now you are writing. But I find that most of all it is your positive attitude that keeps you in a good state of mind.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  15. I admit to being a comfort food person as well. But these days I am so darn busy I hardly have time to think about it. I keep plenty of fresh fruits and veggies on hand so that helps.

    • Mary,

      One of the keys to healthy eating is to have fresh fruit and vegetables easily available, cut up and ready to eat. So you are off to a good start.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  16. Simplify, and lower my expectations of myself. That’s what I do. I learned that back when our older six children were little, and I was homeschooling them all. Sleep deprivation soon taught me it would do no good to try to maintain a high standard in any area — best to take it as simple and easy as possible and not expect too much of my kids or myself.

    An awful lot of the stress in my life comes from shiny object syndrome, which is a rather pervasive and persistent characteristic of ADD. Very hard to keep under control. I have a list of things I believe I should be doing each day, and when I start feeling overwhelmed from all the rabbit trails I find myself going down, I go back to that list and do only what is there.

    • Willena,

      I think the internet and all the invitations and offerings caused us to feel there is something more we need to do – and there is often a sense of urgency. I like your style of returning to your list, doing what you had previously decided needs to be done, and not being so hard on yourself.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  17. Hi Erica,
    I am afraid that at times, I do turn to comfort foods but I am trying to work on that. For example last night at dinner I wanted French Toast in the worst way but ordered a light breakfast instead (still thinking French Toast though) LOL

    Thank you for your great insights and inspiration in your posts.

    Have a great day, Monna

    • Monna,

      I recently discovered that when the stress level got to high, I turned to comfort foods. But in general, even when I feel stressed I am able to maintain my regular workout routine and fairly healthy eating habits. It really has to become a habit. If you really have a craving for French Toast you can make it yourself with a high fiber bread and organic eggs. Sometimes it is worth it to just give in to a craving. Then you feel satisfied and can continue on a healthy diet path.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  18. Hi Erica,

    A wonderful topic..how do we handle stress? I think the first step is to have the mindset that there will ALWAYS be stressful situations in our lives. It is just a fact.

    So, what do I do? Well, after having stomach ulcers in the past, I knew that I was internalizing stress. I learned how to meditate a long time ago, creating my “safe place” in my mind – along with breathing exercises.

    So, when stress comes my way, I immediately go to my “place” in my mind. Now, sometimes when I cannot even have the energy or mindset to do so, I complete a small task. That has a beginning, middle and end. Usually something dull, like washing dishes, or another mundane task.

    I find that in doing so, it switches my mind. I do not run for comfort food, nor drink alcohol because I know that would only make me feel worse. I must say that I do increase my lemon water at that time.

    Also take a walk to burn out energy. Then go back to the situation.

    Well, that’s the way I do it!

    -Donna

    • Donna,

      I like your way of handling stress. For mild stresses, doing a mundane, mindless task can certainly help – like filing papers or cleaning. And with mild stress, I can meditate, breathe, go for a walk, go to get a workout, sit in the jacuzzi. But when the stress and anxiety level is very high, my usual coping mechanisms do not necessarily work. Fortunately, I do not often have a huge spike in stress.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

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