How to unstack your stress with a daily celebration

Photo: Clay Banks

We are great at celebrating milestones in life. Today there are graduation ceremonies for preschool and kindergarten with the full cap and gown and a walk across the stage to pick up a diploma. Celebrating marks the end or beginning of something in life. People celebrate IPO’s, promotions, weddings, graduations, and their team winning the big game. It is a happy time and should be enjoyed — no matter how brief the celebration. Understanding the importance of celebrations helps us to see why we should celebrate more on a daily basis.

I have a friend that has a long commute to work. Recently it was raining and traffic was terrible so she was 40 minutes late to work. She did not celebrate when she arrived. Then while she was at her desk working on a project that had an upcoming deadline, the school called and said her son was sick and needed to go home. She had to rush out of work to pick him up. They spent the next two days at home with the flu. Again, she did not celebrate when her son was well. When she did return to work after missing two-and-a-half days, she was behind on the project and had to work late into the night to finish on time. She did not celebrate when she finished the project.

So why is it so important to celebrate?  Celebrating several times a day can be used to mark the end of stressors that happen in our daily lives. We are great at remembering the moment that stress starts, but we don’t celebrate when it is over.


Think of stress on a scale of one to 10. Arriving late to work is a two on the stress scale. Having a child get sick with the flu is a four. Getting behind on a project and pulling an all-nighter is a three. Without celebrating to mark the end of the stress, you are doing something called stress stacking. Here is how it works: The stressors above equal nine, which means you are walking around all day with your stress level pegged at a nine. Anyone who is walking around with a nine stress level will break down over the tiniest thing because experiencing another stressor that is a one pushes that person over the edge. This is what is happening when we start crying because the dog won’t come back inside when you call him or you can’t find the cat in the house or you experience a simple daily event that sends you over the edge. Your body is overloaded because of your stress stacking that you have been doing all week, month, or year.

Stress stacking is bad for you because it subjects your body to continuous long-term stress. Stress can affect your body, mood, and behavior. We know continuous stress can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The long-term effects of stress have been well researched. To avoid these long-term effects, you need to adopt the mindset of celebrating when daily stressors end. When used daily, the practice of celebrating will continually reset your stress levels and provide a release of daily stressors in your life. Mastering the art of releasing the daily stressors of life allows you to more effectively deal with daily life occurrences and major life events.

Additionally, celebrating is an important part of forming a new habit. As a nutritionist, I have a different mindset than most people but it is one I teach my clients – I celebrate every day by living healthfully and feeling amazing in my own skin. I celebrate by making great choices for my own mental, emotional, and physical health.


Celebrating allows you to mentally and emotionally release these everyday stressors and reset your body. Below are five of my favorite celebrations.

1. Clapping. Yes, I look like a crazy person sometimes, but I clap for myself.

2. Fist pumping. Sometimes I even give it a “h–l yeah” out loud.

3. Smiling at someone on the street. (This is my favorite celebration when I’m in public.)

4. Waving my hands in celebration. I was never a cheerleader, but I know how to give a big full circle wave when I need to.

5. Smiling big and shouting “Whooo Hoooo” out loud.

Enjoy the celebration of your life and start celebrating several times a day! Celebrate the end of a daily stressor and really enjoy that the trash is taken out, the project is complete, and your child finished her homework, or anything else that was weighing on you today. Go celebrate you, celebrate your health, celebrate your motivation, celebrate your dedication, and celebrate your love and life.

Catherine Benton is a nutritionist and life coach in San Francisco. She is the co-founder and co-owner of Personalized Nutrition Solutions. Email: [email protected]

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