Transformation Trainer & Lifestyle Coach
Adele Kiriakou is a Published Author and a Nutrition, Wellness & Fitness Expert. Read More
Stress for many nowadays, has become an accepted part of daily life, whether it’s triggered by a heavy workload, a schedule packed full of extracurricular activities, cooking, cleaning, caring for children, or tackling a stream of financial pressures. Though many of us don’t see managing our stress levels as important to the other day-to-day activities, it should be a priority when it comes to your overall health and long-term well-being. Chronic stress can keep stress hormones elevated, suppresses the immune system, can make you feel lethargic, and can higher your risk for chronic inflammation, digestion irregularities, heart disease, cancers, and mood disorders. Stress can also exert negative effects on overall skin wellness, as well as worsen several skin conditions, including eczema and acne.
It wasn’t until I paid attention to just how much stress was negatively impacting my life, when I noticed how wonderful I could feel – by implementing simple changes, daily and making myself a priority. Being a mom of 4 and carrying on with a full-time career made me feel (at times) like a chicken with its head cut off! A never-ending list of things to do can feel incredibly exhausting. Years of over-working myself and enabling a cycle of stress – eventually caught up to me. Managing my stress is now a defining priority in my life. Taking the time to de-stress, relax, re-connect, and breathe – has brought me back to the present moment. I can’t encourage you enough to take some well-deserved time and dedicate at least one of these changes to your daily routine. Your future self (and families) –will thank you!
When you’re stressed, your body responds by making hormones that stipulate extra energy, attention, and strength. This is called the fight-or-flight response. A small surge of stress can be a positive thing. It can help you cope under pressure, add motivation to perform tasks and can even help you withstand physical demands with better attention. But too much stress — or stress you can’t manage — prevents you from doing your best. Too much stress can drain your energy, increase hunger cravings (especially sugar), impair your sleep, and can make you feel brain-fog and grumpy!
You can’t get rid of stress, but you can help navigate everyday stress triggers. When you stress less about everyday stuff, you’re equipped to handle the bigger challenges.
If you want to get better at managing stress, here are some things you can consider:
Eat quality food
I encourage you to start by focusing on eating the right foods. Managing stress is easier when you are as healthy as possible, and that’s why healthy eating is the first defence against stress. Stress can negatively affect blood pressure and blood flow. Examples of nutrients that support your healthy diet include omega-3s (EPA and DHA), vitamin E and polyphenols. Example of Omega-3s foods are: fatty fish, kidney beans, flax seeds, chia seeds, and seaweed. You can find vitamin E in foods like: sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and avocados. Polyphenols can be found in foods like: green leafy vegetables, oranges, berries, extra-virgin olive oil, organic coffee, and bright colored peppers.
Get your B vitamins!
Certain foods help stimulate different metabolic pathways. Foods high in B vitamins help support macronutrient metabilosm. Foods that are high in B vitamins include: cabbage, organ meat, eggs, kidney beans, chickpeas, seeds, green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and arugula. These foods also help keep your insulin levels stable due to their high fiber content, which helps supply you with lasting energy throughout the day.
Get enough good fats
Fats are present in every cell of our bodies and are responsible for enzymatic reactions and hormone production. Giving your body the right fats (avocado oil, olive oil, omega-3s, and fats from grass-fed animals) will produce many reactions. Skip the low-fat labels; terms like “all natural” and “low fat” are often slapped on food products that may not be healthy for you and are usually loaded with sugar, synthetic substances, artificial flavours, and excess sodium.
Limit caffeine & alcohol
Coffee, tea, some sodas, and chocolate contain caffeine. A good quality cup of coffee is better had during the day; before 3pm. You can even add a dash of pure ginger, cinnamon, honey, or grass-fed butter to increase the nutritional value of your coffee. If you’re looking for extra energy later in the afternoon, you could schedule a light workout, drink green tea, or take a walk outdoors. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you are feeling very stressed, you may be turning to alcohol as a temporary comfort.
Ditch the sugar
Excess sugar can weaken the body’s ability to respond to stress. Food can have many effects on your mood and emotions; specifically, eating too much sugar may increase your risk for mood disorders, including depression. Sugar is found everywhere, from condiments to drinks and sauces and sandwiches. Look for places sugar hides in your daily diet and create ways to cut back. As you exclude sugar, your palate will gradually adjust, and you won’t have to rely on sugar to reach gratification. Sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, energy drinks, and coffee drinks, contain added sugar. Smoothies, juice drinks, and fruit juices contain large amounts of sugar too. Choose water with fresh fruit, tea, or sparkling water. You can even add lemon or lime into your water to add natural sweetness and avoid glucose spikes.
Don’t skip meals
Try not to skip meals or eat on the run. Savour yourself a healthy breakfast and prepare your meals the night before. Doing this can help you not feel stressed about where to eat and where to find healthy food. Skipping meals can make stress-related symptoms worse. You may get a headache or a tight, tense feeling in your stomach. Skipping meals can also cause binge-eating and overeating at dinner.
Get Your Protein
Focus on protein instead of starchy carbs, which can encourage inflammation and disrupt the production of neurotransmitters. Starchy carbs, especially those that contain gluten, are also known for inducing brain fog and fatigue. High-protein foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan can help assist with the production of serotonin, the precursor for melatonin, which is a hormone needed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Sip Some Tea
Sipping a hot cup of tea can feel relaxing. Most teas are made with herbs, like chai, lavender, or chamomile, which are great choices to sip after a stressful day.
Some good choices are:
- Bergamot Earl Grey
- Lemon balm
Move your body
Exercise produces endorphins—chemicals in the brain that make you feel good—which can alleviate stress, increase emotional resilience, (the way you process stress), elevate mood, improve sleep, build strength and cardiovascular endurance. Choose a variety of fitness routines including yoga on days when you’re feeling less energetic and susceptible to stress. While yoga can certainly stretch your muscles and make you more physically fit, it’s even more beneficial for your mind. Yoga moderates the nervous system, balances hormones, and regulates nerve impulses—three factors that can reduce stress levels, making you better equipped to handle stressful situations.
Spend time outdoors
It’s time to take a break, unplug from social media and reconnect with mother nature.
Connecting with nature is healing. Spending time in nature can improve memory, lower stress hormones, and reduce feelings of depression or anxiety. Being in nature can clear your thoughts and support being in the present moment. Make it a priority to watch the sunrise/sunset, visit a lake, park, garden, or local trail. If you’re close to the ocean, take advantage of listening to the waves and feeling sand between your toes.
Make it a priority to reflect on at least 5 things that you are genuinely grateful for.
Acknowledge what you’re feeling, and counter it with a positive statement — scan through a photo book of favorite photos and relive experiences that made you shine! We experience gratitude when we shift our focus from what we don’t have to what we do, and when we take time to be thankful for those who have contributed to the wealth in our lives. Compare your mind to your digestive system — what you put in; impairs how you feel. When you torrent your mind with a continual flow of anxiousness, self-neglect, worry, and self-doubt, it negatively impacts your mental wellbeing. A gratitude regime is like a fitness and eating plan –you’re your mind!
Here is a delicious way you can get started on your journey to stress relief. This smoothie is made with superfoods and magnesium rich ingredients. Now, this does not mean that drinking this smoothie alone will eliminate all stress in your life but is a tasty added extra!
- 1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
- ½ cup plain kefir or vegan yogurt
- 1 frozen large banana
- ½ cup cherries fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup goat milk or plant-based milk
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 1tbsp cacao powder
- Place all ingredients into your blender.
- Blend on high speed for approximately 30-45 seconds or until smooth.
- Pour into a glass and top with fresh mint.
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