November 29, 2021

The Quiz that told me Exactly how Stressed I am—& How to Tone it Way Down. {Partner}

“Babe, relax.”

* And then, she snapped. *

And snap I did.

Typically, I would ignore that infuriating phrase or remind my hubby how it, literally, never makes me feel relaxed when he says that…but not on this day.

No, on this day, I was carrying too much: the guilt of missing another workout and eating pizza for breakfast (goodbye physical well-being), a to-do list that starts with a Mount-Everest-high stack of dishes, the boxes scattered everywhere from the recent move–oh, and the new job.

And the high-pitched holiday bells ringing menacingly in my ears.

Need I say more? 

I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to listen to the latest update of his new hobby (woodworking). So when he excitedly came to share his story with me–in the middle of my workday–I couldn’t shoulder it. In a nutshell: I shut him down–hard.

Naturally, there was no jaw-dropping from me as I signed up for Noom’s program for stress management, Noom Mood, and it told me that my stress levels were, well, through the roof.

Where do you fall on the stress scale? Find out now with Noom >>

At first, I felt like I’d failed a test. I mean, yes, stress has turned me into an angry cavewoman many a time–it has bled all over my relationship, my job, and my overall wellness–but seeing it on a graph was…eye-opening.

Then, almost as if it were reading my mind, one of the daily lessons in the app said, “There’s no right or wrong way to feel stressed. The goal is to challenge your mind and body, learn more about yourself, and identify opportunities to grow–all while showing yourself a little grace along the way.”

Grace? I deserve that?  Mind = Blown. 

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more than a little apprehensive about adding one more thing to my to-do list when I decided to give Noom Mood a go, but the simple fact that I was on a guided path made me feel pretty darn supported. And after nearly biting the head off the man I love most in this world, I was ready as ever to give this a try.

Kissing Anxious Thoughts Goodbye

“How does it work?” 

Well, for the last 13 years, Noom has been the go-to, trusted source of millions seeking guidance in upping their health game. But Noom also recognized that “health” is a big word–it doesn’t begin and end with the physical body.

This program uses a variety of mindfulness-based techniques to help understand the “why” behind our stress.

For me, sometimes, it can be pretty easy to recognize what sets me off (hint: telling me to relax is a surefire way to unleash the Kraken that is “stressed Kate”). But other times, it’s not so easy, because honestly, the little things that set us off are probably just the tip of a deep-seated wound. I guess you could say that, when I’m trying to hit a proverbial piñata that is the source of my pain, I am always blindfolded.

And as much as I’d love to take a 5-year retreat on healing and stress reduction, who actually has time for that? The answer is no one. Luckily, Noom makes it approachable: each bite-sized lesson only takes 10 minutes a day. (Less time than it takes me to argue with the anxious thought demons in my head.)

Ready to make friends with your anxious thought demons? Get peace in your back pocket with Noom Mood >>

Let’s define “Stress”

As my friends at Noom say, “The world is an unpredictable place, but one thing’s for sure: stress will always come knocking (it’s like death and taxes).”

Here’s a generic (i.e., boring but still true) definition for stress: stress is when demands outweigh resources.

Here’s an enlightened, much-more-fun, Noom-y version: stress is like waves. You can’t change the waves; you learn to ride them.

So, without even knowing it, each one of those small-but-mighty 10-minute lessons is helping me stock up on resources–which they call your “weekly tool”–and stamina to ride the wave (insert shaka emoji).

“The lessons in the Noom app made me feel ‘normal’ instead of feeling like there was something wrong with me for getting stuck on thoughts or jumping to the worst-case scenario. It helped show me how to balance and give myself grace, which I was in desperate need of.” ~ Jessica, Noom Mood User

Each day, you complete an activity that explains how to use that tool (ex: brain dump, gratitude, grounding, reframes, self-soothing, distraction). And at the end of the week, you get to decide what to add to your “tool belt.”

My first weekly tool was titled: “Creating Space.” It asked me how I felt (so thoughtful!) about committing to taking 15 minutes to do…whatever I want. (Recommended: “phone-free, relaxing, enjoyable”.)

Woo-sahhhh. You deserve space & time to just be you. Find it right this way >>

Do something “relaxing”? It’s a yes from me!

I actually laughed out loud to myself because the timing for this “tool” to pop up in my life couldn’t have been any more perfect. “Sorry, honey, I can’t talk right now. I’m creating space.” 

But, really, when I tried to think about the last time I had truly, genuinely, actually taken 15 whole minutes to do whatever I want, without a phone, I had nothing to say (which says a lot considering my Italian roots). I seriously couldn’t think of the last time I had just “Noom-ed out” (yes, it’s a thing now) without having to be on: “the supportive wife,” “dog mom,” or  “the overachiever“ at work.

Another much-needed “slap in the face” moment.

Over the last week, I have only been kinda-sorta diligent about snatching those 15 sacred minutes of alone-time, but the biggest “lightbulb moment” for me was how sh*tty I am at, well, creating the space I need. And how much I needed it. Because when I was able to carve out that space for myself, I didn’t feel like wearing the “attentive to my husband” hat–and every other hat I wear–was too heavy. I felt present. And that’s the gift of Noom Mood (pun intended).

We all talk about how important it is to take time for ourselves when we’re in relationships (and life in general)–to have healthy boundaries–but, man…it’s hard! Having that nudge from Noom helped me:

  1. Realize just how much my inability to take a physical and emotional breather was affecting me–and, by extension, my relationship.
  2. Find a simple way to communicate what I need (“Can’t. Sorry. I’m Noom-ing right now”)
Go from Gloom-and-Doomer to Noomer with this life-changing app >>

They’re not regular psychologists…they’re cool psychologists. 

The health experts behind the app have already laid the yellow brick road toward healing. All we have to do is show up–when we can and however we can. It’s like having a therapist (though, this is not therapy), who is more like the cool aunt you actually want to hang out with, in your pocket. It’s non-invasive and non-awkward when real-life stuff happens.

But (and this is a big “but”) Noom isn’t another item to check off your to-do list, commitment to feel guilty about neglecting, or stressor in your life.

I mean, I was still able to gain some emotional awareness and take some skills with me–even though I wasn’t the “star student who never missed a day.” Truth be told, I’ve missed quite a few. And that’s the beauty of it.

And when I fall off the wagon, my personal coach, Maria, (who is an actual person) doesn’t give me grief. In fact, from the very beginning, I was promised that I would never hear: “just chill” “calm down” “oh, relax” “it’s not a big deal” “stop worrying” “that’s just silly” “don’t stress.”  (Yes, I promptly showed this to my hubby.)

Instead, she sends me little love notes (just kidding, no perfume, they’re more the inspirational type), and, just like with the exercises, I reply and handle them when I can.

The whole process feels like I’m on a road trip to well-being–exploring and learning and growing–except I don’t have to worry about the directions or where to eat or ask to pull over when I need a break. The details are taken care of, so I get to focus on me.

The daily mood logging was something I felt an aversion to at first, but I have come to realize how helpful it is in identifying and understanding my stress and triggers (my “why”). Because, if we’re honest, even though we aren’t in the Stone Age, our bodies still respond to stress in prehistoric ways (i.e., I turn into an angry cavewoman, so it’s helpful to know where that reaction comes from).

Rather than trying to change our stressors, we can embrace them, and ride the waves, with some handy-dandy psych tools.

Stress is not the enemy. The resistance of it is. Click here for peace of mind >>

I didn’t realize how much I needed that little oasis of “do nothing and talk to no one” until I had it.

I can’t say that the last few weeks with Noom have made me into a new person who won’t be peeved when someone tells me to “just relax.” But I would say that it has changed my relationship–and my entire being–for the better and it’s definitely worth a try.

Crazy what can change in 15 minutes, aye?!

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