Are you tired & stressed all the time? Are you not sleeping well? Are you moody? Do you feel anxious? Don’t worry… most people are exactly the same as you. Everyday millions of people experience stress in their everyday life, however the amount of stress they feel depends on the situation as well as the individual. The most common causes of stress in Australia are financial, family, our careers, and when an important event in your life occurs; this could be a death or even a breakdown of a relationship. There is always going to be times in your life when you experience stress or some kind of anxiety.
Stress is the feeling that you’re under pressure or if you’re fearful of failure. Stress can affect us through so many different ways from emotionally to behaviourally. Emotional stress can create tension, anger towards family and friends, and it can also trigger certain mental illness’s such as anxiety and depression. Behavioural stress can disturb our sleeping patterns leading to things like insomnia, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), weight problems and increased drinking and smoking levels.
When the human body is stressed it becomes more alert, which is fine every now and then but it becomes a problem when it is a continuous state. This stress causes numerous health issues such as sleeping problems and a weaker immune system. Our immune systems roll is to fight against illness and disease. Therefore having a poor immune system as I am sure you guys know, makes us more vulnerable to common illnesses. To ensure we have the best chance at having a strong and healthy immune system our diet should be nutrient rich. Stress is always going to be apart of our everyday life’s and today we’re going to explain some ways we can manage our stress to live a better, healthier & fitter life;
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress, it’s also one of the easiest. Physical activity in any form enhances the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals in the brain that trigger a positive feeling in the body and decrease the feeling of pain. These higher amounts of endorphins present in the body can reduce the negative effects from stress. Studies have proven that exercising for as little of 10 minutes a day can reduce stress levels. The Australian physical activity guidelines recommend that everyone should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. So if you’re stressed get moving and find something you enjoy doing whether it’s walking, boxing, yoga, or strength training. Get moving!
Hand in hand with exercise diet is just as important. Having a healthy nutritious diet with lots of whole foods full of good quality protein, and vitamins and minerals which help reduce stress. Your diet should also be rich in omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts and seeds, and vitamin B, which is found in meat, eggs, seafood, and green leafy vegetables. Now not only do you want to ensure you’re nutrition is adequate there are also certain foods that you should avoid if your feeling stressed. If you’re stressed or anxious you should avoid all of these foods; tea, coffee, and energy drinks. Drinks high in caffeine can create mood swings, increase anxiety and sleep deprivation. Alcohol is a big no as it is a depressant, therefore it will only increase your stress and anxiety. Sugar and processed foods can inflame the gut and they have nutrient value so that won’t help you either.
3) Your Gut Health:
A healthy gut is extremely important as it is primarily responsible for absorbing the nutrients from the food we consume. It passes the nutrients into our vital organs so they can function efficiently. Ensuring our gut is working correctly requires healthy bacteria. When there is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut it can become inflamed and place our whole digestive system out of whack, this includes supplying our vital organs such as our brain with the correct amount of nutrients. Every day stress can put impact on our gut and digestive system, mainly because when we’re stressed our body struggles to rest and digest. Eating foods high in good bacteria can help our gut function even when we are stressed. Probiotics are an excellent source of good bacteria, as is fermented foods. Fermented foods can be found at any health food store. These include; coconut kefir, coconut yoghurt, kombucha and fermented veggies.
Meditation is an extremely old tradition. When our bodies are stressed we tend to have a ‘fight or flight’ type response, and we find it quite difficult to get out of this state. This state of mind is fine for a small amount of time but being in this state of mind over an over again prevents us from ‘relaxing’ and allowing our body to rest. Meditation can help take us to a point of pure relaxation where our bodies can stop and rest & digest, enhance our moods, lower blood pressure and reduce stress and the effects that come from stress. As little as 10 minutes of meditation per day has been proven to reduce stress. Headspace is an awesome free app you can download with ten, ten minute meditation stages as well as tips and tricks to help you free yourself of stress and anxiousness. You can meditate at any time of the day or night. When you first start it’s important to choose a quiet, dark space with no distractions. The more you start to meditate the greater your ability to shut off the outside world will become. Eventually you’ll build up to a state of being able to shut everything else around you out virtually anywhere. If you are having trouble sleeping because of stress, make sure you start to meditate before you hop into bed. This will help you relax and rest your weary mind.
As we have already talked about, when we are stressed our bodies find it difficult to relax. This means we struggle wind down at night and find it hard to sleep. It’s important to create a sleeping environment with no distractions. Like above meditation before bed is one of the best ways to help the body to relax and drift off to la la land. Make sure to get into the routine before going to bed and wake up at the same time each day even on weekends. Having a consistent routine helps to keep your body clock happy allowing you to have better rest. Your bedroom should be as dark as space make sure there is no light coming through and eliminate all light sources when you are asleep, everything from the standby light on your tv to the alarm clock next to you bed if it lights up black it out. If you still want or need to use electronics such as phones, tablets and laptops around bedtime make sure you download an program called Flux. Flux changes the brightness of the display to the time of day, therefore the light is warmer at night. Reduce your caffeine intake or stop having caffeine after midday. As well as this don’t consume alcohol at night as it may help put you to sleep but once the effects of it wear off it can actually make you have a disrupted night of sleep. To help reduce the side effects of stress it’s important as an adult to be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep.
Take Away: Stress is always going to be present in our lives, but it’s how we manage our stress that will reduce the affects it has. So to do this we need to exercise every day, reduce our caffeine intake after midday, eat good quality protein, and plenty of vegetables (particularly those of the green and leafy variety). Consistent sleeping patterns will help regulate your sleep, start meditating for at least 10 minutes a day, do what makes you happy and spend as much time with those you love.
Have an awesome day guys!
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