Last night I was going through my pictures on facebook and I started to notice a pattern. For the most part I liked the pictures of myself better during times I know I had low stress. The pictures I was least pleased with with were for sure during periods of higher stress. I’m no scientist but there are things during my periods of high stress that I think may have affected my appearance. This is not to say that I think I look awful in my high stress pictures or to say I don’t have any pictures I think I look good in during those times. I am just pointing a out pattern I noticed based on my preferences. Once I recap each picture with you I will share why I am pointing this pattern out in the first place.
The first picture is from the first month of college. This is definitely a picture from a low stress period. This was not very far out from my cross country days and I had barely started drinking. I had always been excited about college, so going off didn’t make me stressed. I also hadn’t been in class long enough to have to deal with the stress of tests and essays.
The second picture is from the end of my junior year. Even though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I was internalizing a lot of stress. I didn’t have an internship yet which I need for my major. The whole environment of college can also take a toll on you even if you are having the time of your life. My junior year was probably when I started having more opportunities to go out any day of the week I wanted. I also didn’t like a lot of the food served in my sorority so I would resort to quick and easy fast food instead of taking the time to find a healthy alternative. Working out is another factor, it hardly ever happened. During this time I had pretty low confidence
The third picture is from the first month of my move which was a low stress period. This move was something that I had been looking forward to. There was more excitement than stress. At this point I was also still shadowing someone at work so I didn’t have a ton of responsibility yet there. Another factor was that I was fresh off of being able to have free healthy food options I liked from my parents. I was still in the mind set to get healthy. Lastly, I didn’t know enough people to regularly go to the bars or eat out.
The fourth picture is from October which was part of the period I was very stressed here. Being often behind at work, and technically understaffed were factors. I didn’t exercise quite enough and felt very sluggish at this point. I stopped wanting to cook as much for myself on top of not working out enough. I really enjoyed my wine and I had more friends to go to bars or restaurants with. This is another time when I had pretty low confidence.
The fifth picture is from last weekend and I can say I am not really stressed right now. I have been working out 4 times a week (most weeks). I also cook more and use better portion control. I still go out but I don’t buy bottles of wine on work nights. I am not a completely healthy person but I make healthier decisions than when I am highly stressed. I’ve found my rhythm at work and I am feeling proud and accomplished. I feel the most comfortable with myself in a while.
Yes, there is more to life than appearance but but it can affect how comfortable you are with yourself and how confident you feel. I think those two things are important. To me it is all interconnected. What I noticed is that the times when I felt least confident about my career were also the times when I was the least healthy. A little stress is fine but when it becomes overwhelming I tend to make less healthy decisions when it comes to food and fitness. Those things affect my physical appearance combined with not carrying myself as well due to my lack of confidence in other areas of life. That combination can put me into a rut where I am not presenting the best version of myself not just physically but also mentally.
It is when I start replacing my bad stress habits with things that actually take of myself, that I start to carry myself better. Eventually the physical health improvements start becoming visible but even just the way I carry myself can improve how comfortable I am with myself. I think everyone deserves to feel confident in both their accomplishments and appearance. Since I believe those things can affect each other, I encourage you to look at what your bad stress habits are and try to replace them with better ones. Not everyone’s stress habits involve things that directly affect physical health. Even if they mainly affect mental health, it is importance to identify them because it will help you present the version of yourself that you truly want to present. Even if someone is pleased with their physical features, lack of confidence in abilities can cause people to many to lack good posture or appear nervous. These things contribute to overall appearance. For me finding a workout I enjoyed and starting this blog were key to dealing with stress. For you it could be reading or listening to music.