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2021 Apr

The Cookie Jar

Find out the best ways to deal with your stress.

It’s amazing what a good piece of chocolate can do to brighten your day. For that matter, even a bad piece of chocolate—if there is such a thing— will likely lift your spirits. I know. I’ve been indulging a lot lately.

Maybe it’s the stress we’ve all felt during the pandemic, but I’m finding it hard to control my inner Cookie Monster. There’s something about junk food that seems to take the edge off of a bad day.

I try eating balanced meals with the right proportion of protein, carbs, and fats. I’m full for a while, but then that little voice inside my head starts chanting, “Cookie, cookie, cookie,” and I get up from the computer and walk like a mindless drone to the cookie jar for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.

We have a lot to be stressed about these days, and lately I’ve been feeling a little down. When I mentioned my low spirits in an email to a friend, she wrote back and reminded me to count my blessings. She’s right, of course. We all have plenty to be thankful for. Instead of getting stressed out, we should focus on what’s going well in our lives.

Another way to manage stress is to get physical. I love to run, but I’ve been lazy lately. I need to get with the program and run some miles. The truth is even though I have trouble getting motivated to run, I always feel great when I finish. The hardest part is getting started.

Besides stress, boredom frequently fuels my junk food cravings because, let’s face it, life can be pretty boring some days. Wake up, eat, work, eat, work, eat, work, go to sleep. When we find ourselves falling into a rut, it’s time to shake things up. Volunteer, take a class, attend a concert, plan lunch with a friend. Make time to do some fun things you enjoy. You deserve it.

As some of you know, I take horseback riding lessons. Besides trying to learn to ride properly, I am also working on communicating better with my horse, such as asking for the behavior I want using my weight in the saddle, for example, and only resorting to tugs on the reins when necessary.

I find it all very challenging—a little like learning to snow ski when you’re in your 40s, which I also did. (I still find skiing challenging, too.) But the point is getting out and trying new things. We’re only on this planet for little while, so I believe sitting around being bored is practically criminal.

Besides when we’re busy staying active, it’s harder to hear that little voice that tempts you toward the cookie jar. And when you’re done with your class or your run, reward yourself with a special treat. Then sit back and count your many blessings. You’ll be cheered up in no time.

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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