4 Simple Strategies to Relieve Stress Naturally
Whether your motivation is taking a hit with the cooler weather, you’re feeling the pressure at work or getting organised for Christmas this time of the year – November stress levels start to run high all the way up to the New Year.
Although we can’t always control the external environment, we can build up our internal resilience and have the coping mechanisms in place when all gets too much to handle.
If you’re nervous about how to cope with the next couple of months ahead, make your mind and body health a number one priority. Starting with nutrition and habits, crowd out the unhelpful ones with the ones that will nourish you, keep you positive and productive.
Take these simple steps to make sure your body is keeping its resilience to the optimum:
Swap coffee for green tea
Caffeine increases cortisol and adrenaline levels whether we’re relaxed or stressed, which means that if you’re already operating close to a tipping point, even two cups of coffee can put you in a serious overdrive.
If it’s difficult to ditch coffee for good, stick to one cup in the morning and replace the rest by green tea (max 2 extra). Green tea still has caffeine, yet the proteins and antioxidants in green tea prevent the spikes and crashes of caffeine and keeps us more alert for longer periods of time, helping us focus and concentrate better.
Replace sugary and processed food snacks with protein-rich snacks
If the blood sugar gets out of balance, it will cause increased stress levels, energy fluctuations and intense sugar cravings. To stop the constant fluctuations, feed your body balanced snacks, that are rich in protein, rather than sugary treats.
This also applies to processed foods and foods high in simple carbs, as they get absorbed by the body really quickly, causing a spike and a crash. Steer clear from biscuits, cakes and pastries as a snack and choose a delicious, yet balancing alternative instead.
It’s way too common to miss meals when we’re feeling stressed or busy, yet the regular nourishment will take the edge off and help deal approach stress clear-headed. Keep a drawer at work filled with nourishing snacks, if you feel pushed for time. Also make sure you never ever miss breakfast, as it’s the most important meal of the day to get you balanced and ready for the day.
Find a way to include protein and slow release carbs into your breakfasts for better balance and stress reduction. Such may include rye bread, avocado and eggs or porridge with protein powder, berries and almond butter.
Remember your 7 per day
Newest BANT (British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine) guidelines suggest to have 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit for optimum nutrition and simply keeping the systems running smoothly. The easiest way to make sure you’re getting enough is to picture at least ½ of your plate for both lunch and dinner filled with greens, reds and yellows.
Vegetables are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that not only help us remain resilient to stress, but also help fight off seasonal bugs and keep our moods up. Experiment with different vegetables, especially with seasonal squashes, beetroot and kale that are so abundant in the autumn.
However, when stress runs high, nutrition may just be part of the picture. If your lifestyle is making you more stressed and anxious, even the most nutritionally balanced diet will not be sufficient on its own. Check out some of my favourite stress management tools for inspiration:
- Breathing can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels within minutes, providing the outbreath is longer than the inbreath. See 4-7-9 or 7-11 breathing techniques to get you started.
- Meditation – although the Eastern world has been using meditation to reach mental equilibrium and resilience for centuries, it is also now starting to gain popularity in the Western World. Only 10 min consistently in the morning can help you handle even the most challenging day in a calm manner and make you feel in control. Try Yoga Nidra meditation before bed if you have trouble sleeping.
- Plug out and switch off – switch all blue screens and technology devices at least 1h before bed for quality shut-eye. Blue screens keep our minds awake, preventing us from getting in the hours of deep sleep.
- Get a morning routine in place – avoid checking emails and social media first thing in the morning and instead turn to meditation, yoga and silent refection before tending to your daily tasks. Use your ‘golden hour’ wisely- they say the first 60 min of the day will paint a tone to the rest of your day so make it calm, controlled and take it at your own pace.
- Head to your local health food store for herbal remedies. There are plenty of supplements out there to manage stress (magnesium, ashwaganda, L-theanine), as well as herbal teas (chamomile and lemon balm) and essential oils (lavender and frankincense) to add to your resilience toolkit.
If stress and emotions are affecting your health and weight goals, causing cravings and binges, download Milda’s FREE 7 day Meal Plan ‘Curb the Crave’.