Stress – don’t let it take over.
Life in general is pretty good at pulling us in all different directions at once and when it gets a bit too much stress is our body’s natural response. That fight or flight reaction we have is really handy if we are in danger and need to protect ourselves from a life or death situation but when the problem is just having too many deadlines or one too many kids parties this weekend- it’s time to call time-out on the stress response and send in some proper strategies.
Everyone experiences stress differently. Tight stiff muscles, shortness of breath, upset digestion, headaches, racing thoughts, mood swings, sleep disorders, over-eating and distraction from work are some of the most commonly reported symptoms of stress. Stress really can be an assault on the body affecting basically every system. The damage of long term stress is massive so while stress is a normal part of life in the fast paced world we live in, making stress management a priority is a must!
Here’s my top
Tips for making your schedule less stressful
- Schedule in some time in your week for activities that make you happy
- Regular Exercise- even a walk around the block after dinner can have a positive impact on your mood.
- Limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Avoid refined carbohydrates or sugary foods
- Meditation- download a daily meditation app like Smiling Mind or Headspace and start with 5mins in the morning when your first wake up, this will help to rewire your brain’s stress response and calm those racing thoughts.
Important Nutrients to keep in mind
Magnesium- required by the body for a range of different processes magnesium is a nutrient that gets used up very quickly when we are in fight or flight mode. Taking magnesium during stressful periods can be useful as it helps to relax our muscles and calm us down but it is also needed for things like energy production and brain function to help us get through the stressful event. Foods that are high in magnesium include red meat, almonds, walnuts, sesame and sunflower seeds, prunes, spinach, bananas and blueberries.
Essential Fatty Acids- are an important part of the function and structure of our brain and nervous system and help to support memory, cognitive function and a healthy mood. Foods that are high in essential fatty acids include sardines, anchovies, mackerel, Brazil nuts, walnuts, flaxseeds and avocados.
Protein- SUPER important for a healthy mood! Protein is used by the body for thousands of different things but one of them is the production of neurotransmitters. During stress our neurotransmitter production goes into overdrive to help keep up with our racing brains so providing your body with adequate protein will make sure that there is always lots available for this. As well as this protein is essential for regulating blood sugar levels which has a huge impact on our moods- just ask anyone that has experienced being “hangry.” Food high in protein include red meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, yoghurt, lentils and chickpeas.
B Vitamins- is another nutrient group that is used up very quickly by the body when we are stressed as B vitamins are used in various process in the body including energy production, nervous system function and optimal brain function. Foods that include a variety of different B vitamins include beef, wheat germ, almonds, pecans, dark green leafy vegetables, bananas, potatoes, seafood and eggs.
Important to note is that if you are really struggling with your mood and handling stress then it’s important to seek the right help.
Sitting down with a naturopath is a great way to look at all aspects of your life and make a plan that includes nutritional and emotional support while slowly working towards bringing more balance to your lifestyle.
A Psychologist or a Counsellor is another really useful person to have on your side, especially if you need more strategies for dealing with the emotions that come with stress or if you feel like you’re starting to lose control. Chat to your GP about getting a mental health plan that can give you a Medicare rebate on 10 sessions which is a huge help.
There are so many things you can do so if you or anyone you know is struggling with stress right now please get in touch. Yes, stress is a normal part of life, but it is not something that anyone should have to deal with on their own. Seek out some good practitioners, get some strategies that work for you and watch your life change for the better.