I said it. Stress super duper sucks. It affects digestion, depletes our body of nutrients, reduces immune function and affects our mood. It alters our ability to think clearly because it interferes with the production of our feel-good brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) which are made in our gut. Stress sets the stage for inflammation which is at the root of nearly all chronic diseases.
Today’s demanding lifestyles put more stress on our bodies than they were designed to handle. Most of us brush it off like it’s no big deal. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t realize just how negatively it can impact our health, and in turn, our overall quality of life. It can sabotage all of our hard-working efforts to be healthy and the results of both acute and chronic stress are detrimental.
Everyone deals with stress, and the good news is that we have the power to manage it. This is a topic extremely close to my heart as I’m continually trying to achieve balance in my life, and implement ways to reduce the negative effects of stress on my body.
Here are seven simple things I do when I’m under a lot of stress:
1. I try to calm down. First and foremost, I look for non-food and supplemental ways to practice self-care. What I’ve found works for me is prayer, yoga, calling a good friend, and taking hot bubble baths. I’ve also found that when I don’t have time to do any of these things are when I need them most.
2. I put a greater than usual emphasis on food. Every day I strive to eat in PFC balance, and even more so during stressful times. When we’re stressed out, it can be easy to put nutrition on the back burner and even give ourselves permission to eat processed, sugar-loaded snacks to help us through the stress. It can even feel helpful because when we get that quick fix it can serve as a pick-me-up. Unfortunately, doing this ends up fueling the fire even more, promoting inflammation and MORE stress in your body. It’s a vicious cycle! Consuming good quality fat (butter, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut milk) is especially important during stressful times because research shows that restricting calories (which almost always means restricting fat) during times of stress can actually increase cortisol levels even more (which leads to weight gain). Our cortisol levels are already going to be high in times of stress, so why increase them even more by eating foods that fuel this fire? By including good quality fat, along with a quality protein and carbohydrate source, you’re promoting balanced blood sugar levels which will help you stay focused and energized to push through times of stress. Don’t let those processed snack foods tempt you—even though they may feel helpful, they only end up making you more stressed in the long run!
3. I take stress support supplements. For me, one of the most beneficial times to supplement is when I’m stressed—they help me calm down and also help negate the negative side effects of stress by promoting nutrient absorption (which stress depletes). I make it a priority to take these four stress support supplements:
- StressVive: The nutrients in StressVive help reduce stress by supporting healthy adrenal gland function and mood.
- Pure Calm CBD: These softgels naturally calm and soothe without putting you in a haze. Because of its relaxation effect and ability to calm your mind, it's perfect anytime you sense your stress levels rising, and right before bed.
- L-Theanine: This amino acid reduces stress and anxiety and relaxes me without causing drowsiness. I take it throughout the day as needed.
- GABA: This one helps reduce anxiety in addition to reducing nervousness and cravings—keeping me on track with food. It also helps promote peace and calmness so I take two before bed.
4. I make shut eye a priority. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of sleep, especially when you’re stressed! It’s tempting to skip out on sleep to get all the things done that you might be stressed out about, but don’t! Sleep is critical because it influences our energy levels, metabolism, daily food decisions, activity level, hormone balance, moods and more. Sleep helps reduce your stress levels and keep you healthier overall. Never underestimate the power of sleep, and make it a priority—especially when you’re stressed out.
5. I journal for 10 minutes. Journaling is also an effective stress management technique and many of our clients find that although they may have been resistant to it initially (who has time to journal when they’re stressed!?) it helps tremendously, although they never find this out until they give it a whirl! Take a few minutes in the morning or after you get home from work to jot down your thoughts, frustrations and check in to see how you’re doing. I set the alarm on my phone for 10 minutes because we can do anything for 10 minutes, right!? Even if you feel like you have nothing to write about, write that!
6. I say no. Learning how to say no is a skill. Most of us have too much on our plates (so to speak), hence the reason why we’re stressed. It’s stressful being non-stop on the go, so determine what’s really important to you, and what you can do to clear up your schedule. Saying “no” may seem like a simple solution and I understand it isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but it is a powerful, simple way to take control of your schedule. When you’re journaling (hint!), list your priorities and the things you need to do and the things that would be nice to do. Then prioritize the things that would be nice to do, and as these opportunities arise, begin to cut out the ones that just might cause you stress.
7. I talk about it. It’s important to get things off our chest! I talk to a friend or a counselor, and let it all out! It feels so good. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing with a friend or family member (especially if they are causing the stress), another option could be to check out our FREE A New Way to Weight Loss Facebook Group. Many of our members have found comfort and a sense of community in like-minded individuals who are on a similar journey to a healthy lifestyle. This group is all about helping people like you stop the vicious dieting cycle, end the obsession over food and lose weight effortlessly—while enjoying what you eat, and feeling like your happy, confident self again.