Are you stressed? Are you not sleeping? Do you feel anxious? Are you moody? Well your not alone. Millions of people experience stress in their everyday life, the amount of stress depends on the situation and the individual. The most common causes of stress in Australia are financial, family, our careers, and when a significant event in your life occurs; this could be a death or even a breakdown of a relationship. There is going to be some point in your life where you experience stress or some kind of anxiety.
Stress causes you to feel under pressure and fearful of failure. Stress can affect us on many different levels such as emotionally and behaviourally. Emotionally it can create tension, anger towards family and friends, and it can also set off common mental illness’s such as anxiety and depression. Behaviourally it can disturb our sleeping patterns causing insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, weight problems and increased drinking and smoking.
When the body is stressed it becomes more alert, which is fine occasionally but the problem occurs when it’s in this continuous state. This stress causes many health issues such as sleep problems and a reduced immune system. Our immune systems roll is to fight against illness and disease. A low immune system makes us more susceptible to common illnesses. To ensure we have the best chance at a healthy immune system our diet should be nutrient rich. Stress is always going to be apart of our everyday life’s and this blog will demonstrate some ways we can manage our stress;
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress in our everyday lives and it’s also one of the easiest. Physical activity enhances the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that trigger a positive feeling in the body and decrease the feeling of pain. These higher levels of endorphins 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. If you’re stressed get moving and find something you enjoy doing whether it’s walking, boxing, yoga, or strength training. Be active.
Along 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 can 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. Not only do you want to ensure that you are getting adequate nutrition but there are also certain foods you should avoid if your feeling stressed. These following foods should be avoided if you’re stressed or anxious; tea, coffee, and energy drinks. Drinks high in caffeine can create unstable moods, increase anxiety and sleep deprivation. Alcohol is a big no as it is a depressant, therefore it will again increase stress and anxiety. Sugar and processed foods can inflame the gut and it has no nutrient value so that won’t help either.
Having a healthy gut is extremely important. Our gut is responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we consume. It passes the nutrients into our vital organs so they can function efficiently. To ensure our gut is manufacturing correctly it requires healthy bacteria. When there is an imbalance of bad and good bacteria in the gut it can become inflamed and put our whole digestive system out, including supplying our vital organs such as our brain with the correct amount of nutrients. Every day stress can put an impact on our gut and digestive system, this is due to 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 a great 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 has believed to have been around for 5,000 years. When our bodies are stressed we go into a ‘flight or fight’ type response, and we find it quite difficult to get out of this state. This state of mind is fine for a period of time but being in this state of mind continuously prevents us from ‘relaxing’ and allowing our body to rest. Meditation can take us to a point of relaxation where our bodies can stop and digest, enhance our moods, lower blood pressure and reduce stress and the effects caused by stress. As little as meditating for 10 minutes a day is proven method to reduce stress. Headspace is a free app you can download with ten, ten minute meditation stages. This can be completed at any time of the day or night. When you first start to meditate it’s important to choose a quiet, dark space with no distractions. The more you meditate the greater you have the ability to shut off the outside world so you can almost meditate anywhere. If you are having trouble sleeping because of stress, meditate right before bed. This will help you relax and rest the mind.
As mentioned previously, when we are stressed our bodies find it difficult to go into a relaxation mode. This means we can’t ‘unwind’ at night and find it difficult to sleep. It’s important to create a sleeping environment with no distractions. Meditating before bed is one of the best ways to let the body relax and drift off. Set a regular routine to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day even on weekends. Having a regular routine keeps your body clock in order allowing you to rest better. Your bedroom should be as dark as possible without any light coming through. These light sources could be coming from alarm clocks, televisions, and electronics. If your still wanting to use electronics such as phones and laptops around bedtime then download a program called Flux. Flux adapts the screens to the time of day, therefore the light is warmer at night. Reduce caffeine intake or stop having caffeine after midday. In addition stop consuming alcohol at night as it may put you to sleep but when 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.
Stress is always going to be apart of our lives, it’s how we manage the stress that will reduce the affects it has. Exercise every day, reduce your caffeine intake after midday, eat good quality protein, and plenty of vegetables. Regular sleeping routines will help regulate your sleep, meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, and spend time with the people you love.
Aimee ‘stress reducer’ Taylor
Result Based Training