It's Time To Take Back Your Life

Tag: stress

Stress, Depression and Suicide

The world seems to be upside down right now.  Stress is at an all-time high, and doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Disclaimer, I am not a physician, nurse, registered dietician, physical therapist, or mental health professional.  This is my story and what I have done and learned over the course of my journey.  If you plan to start a diet or exercise program, please get approval from your doctor.

Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances” or “something that causes mental strain”.

Stress can manifest in many different ways in our bodies.  It can be psychological, or physical.  It can increase headaches, acne, rapid heartbeat, sweating, changes in appetite, and digestive health issues such as bloating, nausea, and vomiting.  It can cause chronic pain and more frequent bouts of sickness including infections.

Stress and anxiety are very closely related.  They go hand in hand.  They can share many different symptoms such as muscle tension, moodiness, sleep interruptions, lack of concentration, and digestive problems.

Stress is a normal human reaction that has been built to trigger our fight-or-flight response.  We have all heard the story of the caveman facing the tiger, right?  It helps keep us alive.  That is what we call short-term stress.

In today’s world, we have many of the same modes but they have taken various forms and resulted in more of a long-term modality, like financial, a bad job or boss, layoffs, robberies, rape, or unhinged or politically driven individuals that walks into a school, church, or mass event with bombs and automatic weapons.  Countries and people are being persecuted for their beliefs.  Hostages being taken, and wars breaking out. All we have to do is watch the news.

The current state of our world today keeps us in a state of “chronic” or continuing stress.  Our bodies never get the opportunity to reset.  Our cortisol and adrenalin levels remain high for extended periods and begin manifesting physical and psychological symptoms.

Maybe you are going through an upcoming big test, or found that your partner cheated on you. How about a messy divorce, or a child that is on drugs, or going the wrong way in life? Then it could be the death of a family member or members. The loss of a beloved pet, or a sick child.  Maybe you just received a very serious diagnosis. Then there is the loss of a job, with your income and benefits along with it.

The loss of a job, divorce and health diagnosis, are huge. Then can and will cascade into financial stress. The threat of bankruptcy, and losing your home with nowhere to go, might be around the corner. All of these things come with an attached debt factor.

The pathway from chronic stress might look like this

Stress > Anxiety (Panic Attacks) > Depression > Attempted Suicide > Death

The World Health Organization estimates that over 5% of the global adult population is suffering from depression.  That is 400M people. Chronic or continuing stress is difficult on the body.  

Symptoms of Stress/Depression

According to, 

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Chest pain or a felling like your heart is racing
  • Exhaustion or trouble sleeping
  • Headaches, dizziness or shaking
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension or jaw clenching
  • Stomach or digestive problems
  • Decreased Libido
  • Weak immune system

Stress can lead to emotional and mental symptoms like

  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Sadness

Often, people with chronic stress try to manage it with unhealthy behaviors including:

  • Drinking alcohol too much and too often
  • Gambling
  • Overeating or developing eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia
  • Smoking
  • Using drugs

Things you can do to improve your mood

Because stress is subjective, which means there is no test in which to measure it,  only the person experiencing the stress knows the extent of its severity.

If you are experiencing stress, what are some of the things you can do to help yourself?

  • Get out in the sun and go for a walk
  • Exercise
  • Practicing Moments of Gratitude
  • Set goals for each day, week, and month.  Narrowing your view will help you feel more in control.
  • Consider talking to a trusted friend if you have one
  • Consider talking to a therapist
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Chair Yoga for those who are limited
  • Tai Chi
  • Breathing exercises
  • Muscle relaxation exercises
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Try and disconnect from social media and TV for a better night’s sleep
  • Stay positive
  • Except that you cannot control everything
  • Learn to say “no” to friends and family
  • Journaling
  • Stay connected to people who keep you calm or make you happy
  • If that is not an option, then listen to a motivating podcast or YouTube Channel.

Warning Signs of Depression

Here are a few warning signs someone might display if they are experiencing high levels of stress and depression:

  • Talking out wanting to die, guilt, shame, or being a burden to others.
  • Feelings of 
    • Emptiness, hopelessness, trapped, or no reason to live
    • Extremely sad, anxious, agitated, or full of rage
    • Unbearable emotional or physical pain
  • Making a plan or researching ways to die
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, school, or work.
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Using drugs/alcohol more
  • Eating or sleeping more or less

The World Health Organization estimates that over 703,000 people globally commit suicide each year.  Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and is the fourth leading cause of death among those 15-29 years of age.  The highest suicide rate is those 85 and older.  Males are 4x more likely to commit suicide than females.  

According to the CDC (2021) stats, 48,183 people committed suicide.  That equates to 132 suicides each day. Suicide is the number 11 cause of death in the United States. It is number 4 for the ages of 15-29. It is highest in individuals over 85 years of age. If you or someone you love begin to feel overwhelmed, talk to a medical professional immediately.   If you are abusing drugs and alcohol, please get help.

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself, please seek a professional or reach out to the Suicide Hotline at:

Text 988 on your phone 

Chat on the web at

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Text “Hello” to 741741 for the crisis text line

The hotline is also for caregivers.  If you are concerned for someone, you can call this number as well.

We don’t need to shy away from this topic just because it is very uncomfortable.  This is not something that just goes away, if allowed, it can manifest.  It all starts with stress.

If you have kids, learn the warning signs. If you have a friend or family member exhibiting some of these characteristics, please reach out and try to have that coversation. If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, please ask the staff how they are doing and look for signs of disassociation, depression, not wanting to eat, not wanting to get out of bed or socialize. These could be all signs of depression.

Navigating Stress: How Your Plant-Based Diet Might Suffer

Hey there, fellow plant-based friends! Today, let’s dive deep into something that doesn’t get talked about enough in our community, or any community really: stress. That’s right. Stress doesn’t just mess with your mind; it can mess with your diet too. So, grab a cup of herbal tea, and let’s unpack how stress can throw a curveball at your plant-based lifestyle.

Picture this: You’re cruising through life, proud as a peacock of your vibrant new diet, and are proud of the weight you have lost. But suddenly, stress comes knocking at your door like an uninvited guest. Whether it’s a job loss, family drama, or just the chaos of everyday life, stress can sneak up on you when you least expect it. And when it does, your diet might take a hit.

Let’s break it down.

  1. Emotional Eating Escapades: When stress hits, your emotions can go haywire. Suddenly, that tub of ice cream in the freezer starts whispering sweet nothings to you. Emotional eating is real, folks, and it doesn’t discriminate based on dietary preferences. So, instead of reaching for those comforting treats, try to find healthier ways to cope with stress. Take a walk in nature, meditate, or call up a friend for a good old-fashioned vent session.
  2. Convenience over Compassion: Stress can turn even the most dedicated dieters into lazy cooks. When you’re overwhelmed, the last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen preparing elaborate meals. And that’s where convenience foods sneak their way into your shopping cart. Sure, that frozen pizza might seem like a lifesaver at that moment, but relying too heavily on processed foods can leave your diet lacking in essential nutrients. So, try to strike a balance between convenience and compassion by opting for quick and easy whole-food meals whenever possible.
  3. Budget Blues: Let’s face it: With current inflation, food isn’t always cheap. Not just healthy food but anything you buy nowadays. Have you seen the price of Diet Coke or a bag of your favorite chips? How about eggs and vegetables? And when money gets tight, stress levels can skyrocket. Suddenly, you find yourself pinching pennies and cutting corners wherever you can. But unfortunately, that often means skimping on quality foods in favor of cheaper alternatives. While it’s totally understandable to be mindful of your budget, try to prioritize nutrient-dense foods like legumes, grains, and fresh fruits and veggies. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.
  4. Social Struggles: Being a lone plant-based eater in a sea of carnivores can be tough on a good day. But throw stress into the mix, and suddenly social situations become a minefield of temptation and frustration. Whether it’s navigating family gatherings or dining out with friends, stress can make sticking to your vegan guns feel like an uphill battle. But fear not, my plant-powered friends! With a little bit of planning and a whole lot of confidence, you can weather any social storm that comes your way. Who knows? You might even inspire a few meat-eaters to give veganism a try!
  5. Mindful Munching Goes MIA: One of the cornerstones of a healthy diet is mindfulness. Paying attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel can help you make informed choices that support your overall well-being. But when stress rears its ugly head, mindfulness often goes out the window. Suddenly, you find yourself mindlessly munching on whatever happens to be within arm’s reach, without giving a second thought to how it affects your body. So, the next time you feel stress creeping in, take a deep breath and remind yourself to slow down and savor each bite.

Stress and diets might seem like unlikely bedfellows, but the truth is, they’re more connected than you might think. By being aware of how stress can impact your diet and taking proactive steps to mitigate its effects, you can stay true to your plant-based principles even in the face of life’s many challenges. So, the next time stress comes knocking, remember: You’ve got the power to nourish your body and soul with compassion, no matter what life throws your way.

How to recognize stress eating-

If you look deep into when and why you stress eat, I think you will find some common themes:

Financial Stress: This is one of the most difficult stressors to combat. You are in a state of fight or flight 24/7 wondering how you are going to keep the lights on or pay the mortgage. Your job hunt seems to be going nowhere in today’s current market. Every time you reach for your phone or turn the news on, you hear how another five companies just announced layoffs. The three hundred resumes that you submitted haven’t generated but a handful of callbacks, and somehow, they chose to go with another candidate that fits their needs.

Medical Stress: Maybe one of your family members is going through a medical diagnosis and you are wondering where you will find the money to help them. Worse yet, that family member is you, and you are wondering how you will navigate this rabbit hole with a favorable outcome.

Relationship Stress: Is your relationship suffering? Maybe you are married and you and your spouse have taken a break. Or, maybe you are single and your relationship is going nowhere. You think maybe it is because you have lost yet another job, and now your confidence has been stripped. Now, when you are in interviews you bring in the lens through which you view yourself and that is, “the imposter syndrome”. Know matter how many self-help podcasts you consume, you cannot seem to shake it.

Boredom Stress: You have no money to go do anything. Your friends and family have stopped calling. Your family thinks you will ask them for money, so it’s crickets. Your friends think you just aren’t fun to be around and the invites have stopped. So, you are alone with your thoughts and the TV. That half-gallon of ice cream or bag of chips is calling your name. You try to fight back the urge, but it always wins. Why?

No one form of stress is worse than the other. Maybe if you got news of a terminal illness for yourself or a loved one. I think that tops all stressors on the immediate side, but financial stress is very long-term. The one thing you do know is that you keep reverting to your old ways of eating and you feel like crap. All the gains you made, are quickly going out the window. The weight comes back, so do the headaches and you have a feeling of malaise.

Ways to calm your mind

  1. Deep breathing exercises
  2. Journaling and getting all your venting/concerns out in a safe space
  3. Read a book
  4. Go for a walk
  5. Spend some time with your children or pets
  6. Color (the adult version with pencils)
  7. Draw or paint
  8. Other hobbies as well

All of these things can help get your mind off your situation. Just know that their are others out there. Maybe you can find a supportive FaceBook group. Just get out of your old routines. Routines can be our Achilles heel! When stess hits, we tend to slide back into our routines before our health journey began. Fight this urge!

Need a journal? You can find beautiful journals in my Etsy Store:

Thank you for all your support!


A day in the life of you

What is your why? Let’s take a look. Grab a journal and let’s get started. I am going to ask you to take a serious inventory of what you eat on a daily/weekly basis. Write everything down. Don’t worry, this is only an initial exercise for the first week. You will not have to log your intake past this point unless you want to. The one thing is you will need to be is totally honest with yourself or this will not work. I want every stick of gum logged.

I am going to write a scenario and I want you to see if you recognize any of these hamster wheel behaviors.

The routine

You wake after a not so good night’s sleep. You’re already tired. You put on the coffee while you take a shower. You have a cup of coffee while getting ready for work. You head out the door and swing into either you neighborhood Starbucks or fast-food drive-thru. You grab a Frappuccino and a morning combo meal. As you are sitting in traffic you consume both.

When you get to the office you have another coffee/soda before you head to a meeting. Everything is gone off the rails at work, and now you and your team are in crisis mode. Your stress level just increased even more. You head to the vending machine for a RedBull/Soda. You are hungry, so you grab a candy bar or chips too.

At lunch, you drive thru another fast-food line and get another combo meal with a soda or head to a restaurant. You down that and get on with your day.

Around 3:00 pm, you feel like your tank is running on empty, so you grab another soda/coffee/RedBull, and some more goodies from the vending machine.

You’re heading home from work and traffic is terrible. While you are sitting in traffic, you think to yourself, “There has to be more to life than this.” Once you get home, you are so tired, you just want to order DoorDash or a Pizza and call it a night.

You get in bed on your cell phones or tablets. You can’t sleep well for thinking about life’s little problems, like living paycheck to paycheck (or hand to mouth). You are worried about how you are going to pay for those mounting student loans, medical debt or credit cards. Each of those are big green monsters living under your bed. You get up sometime during the night and grab whatever you can find and begin stress eating. Maybe it’s cookies and milk, chips or something else. By the time you stop, half the bag is gone.

You go back to bed and finally fall asleep around 2 or 3 am. When your alarm goes off, you wake so tired and unrested, you head for the coffee pot, get in the shower and rinse and repeat the day. This is your life. This is a hamster wheel that I cannot seem to get off. This is a freight train that is about to hit a wall going 80 mph. How do I stop the madness? Does any of this resonate with you?

The outcome

Now, let’s say you logged your food and beverage intake for the entire week. Looking back on what you logged, what nutrients do you think you actually ingested? Nutrients that fuel your body so it can repair itself, and provide you with the daily requirements to make sure everything is working properly? Most likely, not many. In fact, wouldn’t you say that you did more harm than good with the high-fat, highly processed, sugary and sodium bombs you consumed that were layer is caffeine? Ask yourself, how is your body supposed to recover from that, day after day, year after year. At some point, it just cannot.

You body screams for help and breaks down. This is when diseased starts to occur. Things like high blood-pressure, diabetes, depression, GI issues, sleep apnea, heart, vascular, cancer and autoimmune. They mount one after one and you cannot see to get off the disease freight train.

You have now added more medication, procedures and diagnosis’ to your life. This means more missed work time, and expensive dangerous medications the doctor tells you that you will take for the rest of your life.

Remember those CDC stats I mentioned? Almost 75% of Americans are obese or overweight. As well as 50% of Americans have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and are on medication. There are now twelve year old children are being diagnosed and put on medication for high blood pressure. What do you think their future holds? After all, we most likely began our journey in our thirty’s or forty’s and they are starting at pre-teen ages! If case you missed the stats, here is a link..

CDC Stats Link Home

Welcome to your WHY! Why, you should want to change these habits and create a better plan for what you give your body. Our body is like a temple, and this is how we treat it. We only get one, and it’s not too late to change your course. I don’t care how old you are. Change starts with you and only you. Let’s turn this train around!

Commit to the change and let’s get started.