This week’s article is about stress because to be perfectly honest I’ve had my fair share in the last few weeks. I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours in a Restorative Yoga workshop on Saturday and it helped me to reflect on how I managed the recent stress in my life.
Each one of us deals with some kind of stress on a daily basis. It can be emotional, physical, environmental or even nutritional. It may be an acute stressful event such as an exam, an argument or a job interview, or it may be the ongoing challenge of raising kids, illness or financial pressures.
A little stress is healthy. Our bodies are designed to handle acute stress and survive stressful situations. Instinctively our bodies react to stress with a fight or flight reaction.
But when the stress is constant so too is the stress response. Our adrenal glands respond by producing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and these hormones affect all aspects of wellbeing including the capacity to digest food, immune system function right through to cognitive function like memory.
Stress can be an underlying factor behind many health conditions, and can present itself in many different ways. Symptoms of acute or current stress include: low energy, difficulty sleeping, poor memory and concentration, mood changes, and digestive disturbances. Long term stress may lead to hormonal and thyroid imbalances, obesity, chronic fatigue states and a weakened immune system.
I always ask my clients about the stress in their lives. I connect the dots and empower my clients with information so they can understand all the drivers (not just stress) and how to make some changes. We usually can’t make all the stress go away but there are lots of things we can do to help reduce the effects of stress and help manage life’s challenges.
It’s not always easy to pause and think about stress management in a stressful time but if you can create some regular “stress busting” habits then these will be supportive in your time of need.
These simple strategies helped me keep on top of my stress.
- Eat whole foods with loads of fresh vegetables and other plant foods
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugary foods
- Limit coffee and alcohol
- Enjoy a small amount of dark chocolate
- Enjoy exercise and physical activity most days
- Engage in activities that make you happy
- Try yoga, meditation/mindfulness and deep breathing
- Spend time in nature