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tips to manage stress

Tips to Manage Stress

It's so important that we all manage stress, did you know that our body reacts to stress in exactly the same way regardless of the stressor be it physical ie food intolerances, over exercising, injury or emotional ie bullying, relationship issues, trauma?

Ongoing long term stress impacts many different systems in our body, but particularly our adrenal glands. If we aren’t eating nutrient dense foods that support our bodies to cope with stress our adrenal glands can become exhausted and we start to experience symptoms such as tired all the time (TATT), low libido, weight gain (sometimes loss), lack of energy/get up & go, poor digestive health etc etc. The list is fairly endless.

So, do we stop, rest, take stock of where we are and lighten the load where possible? Often not, we push through and carry on, after all how can stress make us feel this way? There is a lot we can do to help ourselves manage stress and support our adrenal glands:

Eat regularly

Eat at least 3 times a day to keep your blood sugar in balance.  Eat foods that take longer to digest so that sugar is released into your bloodstream more slowly i.e. protein & fat along with foods high in B vitamins, Magnesium and Vitamin C in particular.

Eat protein

Always include a protein food whenever you eat such as beans, seeds, nuts, dairy or good quality protein bar or powder.

Exercise in moderation

I can’t emphasise this enough. If you are exhausted, exercising like mad is not going to help. Although exercise helps us balance the stress hormones and sleep better, when we are well, it can be the final nail in the block if your adrenals are fatigued. Do only what your body can manage. If it’s a short walk then do that, if it’s an hour’s yoga, fine. As you start to get better you can extend yourself and the amount you do, but don’t overdo it as you will only reduce your ability to recover.

Chew your food well

Chewing your food will help your digestion to cope and your body to absorb nutrients.

Learn to breath properly

Often we hunch ourselves up when we are stressed and forget to breath deeply enough. This can really help you manage stress.

Ditch the sugar

Sugar puts your body under stress and we don’t need it! When we are stressed we often crave sweet things and they may give us a quick fix, but long term they will just make you feel worse. If you need something go for a few nuts and a couple of pieces of dried fruit or a good quality fruit/nut bar with no added sugar.

Eat fat 

But make sure you eat the right kind.  We need fat to help us make all the hormones we need, to help us repair ourselves and for energy. It also helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer.  Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds and even a small amount of saturated fat (so you can eat butter, just make it organic!) are all sources of the good fats we need.

Keep well hydrated

Even a 2% drop in our hydration can cause our bodies to feel stressed and for us to feel fatigued and to lose concentration. Be careful of too much caffeine, this can contribute to stress.

Say NO!!

This can be a difficult one as you don’t want to let anyone down, but at the end of the day all you do is make yourself ill so you can’t help. Do what you need to and remove things that you don’t need to do until you feel better and more able to cope.

And last, but by no means least – SLEEP

I put this in capital letters as it is really important to get enough sleep.  I appreciate it isn’t always possible, but sleep is the best healer there is. Take time to create a space that is relaxing and calming, have a bath with some lovely essential oils and magnesium flakes or Epsom Salts, do some yoga or deep breathing, listen to some soothing music, switch off all your electronic devices at least an hour before you go to bed (and don’t take them with you to bed!) and if you have something on your mind, write it down so you can remember in the morning.

I hope the above tips will help you manage stress going forward!

Melissa Smith

Melissa is a qualified Registered Nutritional Therapist with a specialist interest in Stress and its effects on the body. She likens Nutritional Therapy to making a jigsaw puzzle, taking pieces of information about an individual's health & lifestyle from childhood to where they are now and putting them together to make a picture unique to each individual person. This information is then used to determine the root cause of poor health and help clients take control of their health & wellbeing.

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