Life has never been easier, yet it has never been harder.
And being told to reduce stress is falling on deaf ears lately, as it has become almost a neutral part of our everyday life.
We live in a fast paced, too exhausting, and too demanding world.
What we think, how we feel and how long we think it or feel those emotions will determine our health and well being.
Stress gets dismissed as not being “real”, yet it can be seen as an epidemic. Where faster seems better and where we overload our plates on a daily basis (and I’m not only talking about our food plate here).
Stress is a normal reaction to exciting events, like falling in love, going on vacation, or buying a home. However, it is also a hard-wired survival technique built into your body as a means of protection.
When we are under constant pressure and stress, our adrenal glands release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that flood our systems, raising our heart rate, increasing our blood pressure, making our blood more likely to clot, damaging our brain’s memory center and increasing belly fat storage.
When the body continues to function in this hard-wired state and doesn’t fully return to it’s resting stage it comes to a point where your emergency resources are depleted and the body starts to shut down.
Food can have a huge impact and affect on our stress hormones and responses. What we eat as well as the way we eat creates a ripple effect for every area of our life.
In order to reduce stress start with your diet first.
When you are stressed, the last thing your body and brain need is a dose of caffeine (especially in combination with sugar). Drnking a ridiculous amount of caffeine beverages throughout the day to help you push through actually causes more trouble by the time bedtime rolls around than if we don’t. You will be more exhausted, more irritable and struggle more to fall asleep – which will increase your stress levels even more.
Cut the artificial crap.
Artificial foods and flavours are very good at increasing the level of stress hormones. As much as you may crave them when you are stressed out, processed foods and simple carbs, like chips or pretzels, push cortisol levels up and bring the mood down.
Next time you are stressed and crave junk food, swap the stress stimulators out for soothing alternatives.
Some of my favourites are:
- Herbal tea or green juice. This will help revive, re-energize, and replenish your energy reserve.
- Fruits, like apples (amazing with almond butter) and berries are a great source of fibre, vitamins and folic acids.
- Dark chocolate; can help reduce levels of cortisol in the blood (and is even better when you melt it and dip in your fruit)
- Practice calming activities, plan ahead, learn to prioritise your tasks (and delegate whenever possible) and, almost most importantly, love more!