A week ago, I had a horrible day.  The weather was awful: cold, semi-icy rain was pummeling my body (of course I didn't remember my winter jacket with hood, nor did I remember to bring a hat).  I, against all better judgement, decided to take *both* boys to their well-check appointments at the same time, wherein they turned into deranged monkeys and climbed the walls, making noise the entire time I tried (emphasis on tried) to talk to the doctor.

Needless to say, by the time I got into my office, I was exhausted and seriously grumpy.  I started to cheer up, talking to my friend, Sam, because she is the kind of person that just cheers you up by talking to her.  Then a lady (an angel, perhaps?) came in with Doubletree cookies.  You know the kind, with the chocolate chips and the walnuts.  And I said, "Oh, these were just what I needed!"  Sam and I split one, because they were huge, and I really did feel like it was just what the doctor ordered.

One or two days later, and I've got a sick kid at home.  Bob stayed home with him long enough for me to get the gym and have a workout with my fabulous trainer (still working on my chin up goal!).  Knowing that I was going to be home all day with a sick child, I definitely left the house feeling heavy with stress.  We had a great session, though, and my trainer left me with a few really positive messages that lifted my spirits.

As I went home, I felt myself grow lighter.  I let the post-workout endorphins flow through my body, feeling recharged, reenergized, renewed.  Again I felt like it was just what the doctor ordered, and it got me to thinking about the two different situations I faced that week.  In one instance, I felt like the cookie was kind of the thing that saved my day, and then in this other instance, I was starting out my day nipping the stress in the bud and refreshing my somewhat frazzled mind.  That morning workout felt as if I was creating something from within that was actively calming my spirit and would also serve as a bastion against the stressors of the day.

I'm not trying to say that one form of relaxation is any better or worse than the other.  I think there is a time and a place for both a good workout and for chocolate.  And I couldn't help but feel that no matter how awesome my morning workout made me feel, there was always the chance that life would throw some challenges my way that might have me turning to a chocolate-y treat by late afternoon or evening.  I mean, 10 minutes with either of my boys can take me from being totally at peace with the world to wanting to run screaming from the room.  I feel comfortable admitting that I can both love my boys and be driven totally bonkers by them at the same time.

All of that said, I do think that the physical activity has given me some very positive ways to deal with my stress and that the good vibes I get have had a deeper and longer lasting effect than something that seems to come more from the outside (such as a cookie, chocolate, massage, etc.).  The thing is, though, I have to have that physical activity every single day, and on the days when I don't get it, it also tends to have a pretty big effect on my mood.  So there's that side of things, and I have to be mindful to find lots of ways (constructive, affirming ways) to deal with stress.  Still working on that!  I should start a tab on this site that is just a running list of constructive, life-affirming ways of dealing with stress that include things you can do easily, on the cheap, from home, etc.

So those are my current thoughts on these ideas of dealing with stress, both externally and internally.  I don't have any major epiphanies, but it's nice to just think things through here.  And the pics in this post are just some of my pics that I thought sort of mirrored how I was feeling as I thought through these issues.

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