Monday, March 31, 2014

Stress Busters [and spring rolls!]

It's that time again, where everything just seems to come at you at once. With graduation approaching, looming deadlines of all sorts, and struggling to just fight the urge to say 'eff it, I'm just going to bake a cake instead', stress is bound to make an unwanted appearance.

I have a love-hate relationship with stress. I've always been motivated by it. Surely I'm not alone here, but I procrastinate (A LOT) and I feel like I need the stress of needing to do something to push me to actually do it. Not the healthiest approach in law school, I've learned, which has led to too much stress–debilitating stress. In fact, I began to gain weight, break out, my hair was falling out, and a lot of my hair turned gray.

SO, what to do? Figure out ways to calm my tits and move forward. Here are just a few things I've found helpful:
  • Change your thinking: Don't focus on getting everything done and just focus on moving forward. Be just a little bit better than the day before and you'll eventually be fine.
  • Recognize when to just STOP: It may seem counterintuitive but sometimes it's more productive to just stop and take a break. Assess whether trying and not being able to do as much as you'd like is actually raising your stress levels, rather than helping things. If it seems like you just can't today, then don't. But remember...
  • Forgive yourself: If it really is a situation where you need to break and take a rest day, don't chastise yourself for it. Know that it's for your own good and for the best. Just make a promise to yourself to do the damn thing tomorrow. 
  • SLEEP: There are a few things I've learned to never compromise. Sleep is definitely one of them. If I don't sleep enough, I can't get what I need to get done and, to top it off, I'm in a terrible mood. Additionally, my cognitive ability is majorly diminished, which doesn't bode well for legal writing. Plus, I mean, how many hundreds of studies are there that basically correlate every terrible thing to lack of sleep? A ton, that's how many.
  • Eat well: I admit it, this is really hard for me. I'm a stress eater. And usually the stress calls for potato chips or pastries or pizza. Sometimes I allow myself a treat and sometimes I opt for healthier versions of whatever I'm craving. But I know I feel much happier and healthier when I eat well, and when I don't I feel guilty. And feeling guilty is just another stress-causer I don't need to add to the list. 
  • Exercise!: Another one of those things I don't compromise. In the grand scheme of things, your health is most important. Letting out some aggression during strength training or kickboxing is helpful for really frustrating times. And when I need to just take a break and calm my mind, a long run or yoga do the trick.
  • Create lists: To-do lists are my everything. It's the only thing that gets the little worries out of my mind and how I know I'll cover everything I need to do on any given day. I also carefully schedule out my day so I know how much time I have available for any one project, making sure to leave time for fun things like cooking or watching a movie. 
  • Make time for things you love: I've mentioned this before but I LOVE cooking and if I don't do it for a while I become very unhappy. Taking time to cook and blog and draw–things I enjoy doing, rather than have to do–has helped me to focus more once I do do (haha dooodoo *Friends reference*) the things I need to.
  • Personalize your environment to calm: Find your perfect background sounds here! I listen to the waves break while working and the forest or wind if I have trouble falling asleep.
  • These Buzzfeed tips.
  • And when all else fails, watch videos like this one or photo strips like this one
After making these changes, I've noticed a lot of significant changes in my health and productivity. My hair doesn't fall out as much anymore, my skin has cleared up, I haven't found any new gray hairs, and I've lost weight. Also, I'm generally just much happier.
Speaking of eating well, I made these spring rolls! They were so, so good and really easy to make! The only thing was that the prep was slightly time consuming, since I julienned everything. But that isn't necessary so if you just chop everything it'll cut your prep time in half. Or if you use a mandolin...damnit I should've used my mandolin. 

Alterations: I basically did not at all follow the instructions for the actual spring rolls. I only stuffed these with sliced chicken breast, carrots, cucumber, spinach, and cilantro. I loved them. In fact, I ate 8 of them. At least they're really light and healthy. Who said gluttonous behavior couldn't be guilt-free?

Recipe Tip: For the peanut sauce: Start off using one tablespoon of soy sauce and slowly work up from there. The recipe doesn't necessarily account for the saltiness of the specific peanut butter you use, and my sauce came out a bit too salty as a result. 

Also, relish the cooking process itself. Make it fun and relaxing and don't try to be perfect. 
Let cooking be the healthy and stress-relieving experience it should be! 
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  1. Love this post - I'm in exactly the same situation with finals/graduation on the horizon and keep reaching for sugary snacks! Those spring rolls look great.

    Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure


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xo - Christine from The Lion's Den