When stressful times hit, it is not uncommon for self care to take a backseat. I cannot tell you how many people I have seen over the years that gain a significant amount of weight while going through stressful times. Other common physical effects that can occur due to stress include:
- A weakened immune system (i.e. getting sick)
- Elevation of blood pressure
- Fatigue and/or depression
- Poor sleep
- Chronic pain
- Adrenal fatigue
If you are going through a period of turmoil – whether it is an issue at work, a fight with a friend or problems with family — the key is to try to keep yourself as healthy as possible to better weather the storm. I assure you, the 8 tips outlined below will definitely help you to help take care of you until things settle down.
1. Listen to music – Research has shown listening to music helps to lower blood pressure and your overall level of stress. Whether it is classical music or country rock that is your favorite – simply put your headphones on and listen (and even dance!) to your favorite tunes to relax.
2. Take 10 minutes in the morning to stretch and breathe – Jumping out of bed rushed and tense is no way to start your day. Set your alarm clock a minimum of 10 minutes earlier to take time to stretch and breathe. Belly breathing (inhaling through your nose while your belly rises for a count of four and then exhaling for a count of four) has been shown to lower cortisol response.
3. Take a walk or run outside – Being in the great outdoors is one of the most effective ways to get a mini endorphin rush and lower your stress response. Hot or cold weather – the take-home point is to try to get outside daily!
4. Eat fresh, live foods – Fruits and vegetables are loaded with energizing minerals and vitamins that are easy to digest and will help you feel your very best. As much as possible, avoid highly sugared and refined foods. These “energy zappers” may taste good in the moment, but I assure you – they will make you feel worse overall.
5. Avoid the temptation to overeat (especially at night!) – Emotional and binge eating rarely happens during the day. When night falls, levels of stress tend to heighten and erratic eating patterns and over indulgence in “no-no” foods tends to occur. If emotional eating at night is your downfall – pre-plan by filling your fridge with some “free foods” that will not cause energy fluctuations, weight gain and mood swings. These foods include carrots, celery, sliced red pepper, cucumber, vegetable soup, apple slices and unsweetened applesauce.
6. Do not overdo it on your alcohol consumption – Many people turn to a glass of wine at the end of the night to relax and “take the edge off.” If alcohol does become a constant crutch to soothe your nerves, it tends to also lead to poor sleep, weight gain and an increase in appetite. Try to limit the amount you are drinking during the week and opt for the 2-drinks-per-day-per-weekend rule.
7. Consider adrenal supportive supplements – Certain supplements can help the body relax and assist with over-taxed adrenal glands. Magnesium (200 mg), a multi B vitamin, Vitamin C and the herb Ashwaghanda are all helpful in dealing with stress.
8. Drink green tea – In addition to being a “superfood” loaded with antioxidants, green tea contain l-theanine, an amino acid that helps you feel very calm and alert.
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