Don’t Let Stress Determine Your Happiness
Stress. We read about it everywhere, we talk about it plenty, and it’s an accepted factor of modern life. We all experience stress in our lives, to varying degrees, with different stressors, and our own unique responses to it.
There’s no doubt that stress is often a major root cause of many aspects of ill-health in our society today – from mental ill-health to digestive complaints to hormone imbalances – the list is endless. Don’t underestimate the impact that long-term stress can have, but at the same time, don’t let that fact stress you out!
Just know that there are easy things you can do right now to help you improve your resilience, your stress response and ultimately your overall vitality.
Key Building Blocks To Move Forward
In the spirit of keeping it simple and easy let’s just focus on 5 areas. All you have to do is choose one, or even a part of one, to start making a difference.
1. Nourish Your Body 🥑🍎🥦
Hey, I’m a Nutritional Therapist, we have to start with food!
When you’re stressed your body has an increased requirement for certain nutrients and food types. In order to respond to those do your best to:
- Stay well hydrated– drink plenty of water and herbal teas throughout the day, never let yourself go thirsty. Your urine should be a pale straw colour.
- Max out on veggies– Guidelines differ all over the world as does food quality and nutrient status, so to pack in the nutrients aim for 9 portions of vegetables and fruit daily. Use my 4 S’s to help with this – smoothies, soups, salads and stews – then it’s no problem!
- Balance your meals– if you’re experiencing stress it’s best to ensure you’re getting a good balance of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates (i.e. vegetables) at every meal and snack. Cutting out whole food groups is unlikely to help you at this point.
- Food quality– buy the best quality you can afford to get the best nutrients. Food as close to its natural state as possible is always going to be better than a ready meal from the factory.
- Relax when you eat– in order for your body to get the most from the food you eat be sure you are in a relaxed state when you eat it. Just 5 deep breaths before you eat can make a difference. Be present and use all your senses.
2. Breathe. Deeply & Consciously.
There’s a reason the world of Mindfulness has become ever so popular. That’s because it’s easy, free and effective. Why wouldn’t you do it?
And I’m not even talking full on mindfulness – this is just some deep conscious breaths at regular intervals throughout the day. The act of deep breathing in this way stimulates the autonomic nervous system to take us from “fight or flight” into “rest and digest”.
You don’t have to close your eyes and meditate, although that would be good if you can. You can be at your desk, walking to the loo, sat in a traffic jam, watching TV. Choose something you do regularly in the day and then make the decision that whenever you do that you’ll take at least 5 deep breaths.
3. Have a Morning Routine
Come on, how many times did you hit the snooze button this morning? We’ve all been there and sometimes it’s a lovely thing to do. Nevertheless, having a good morning routine that involves nourishing body and mind really does set you up for the day, boosting both your energy and resilience.
If there are just a handful of things you can do quickly in the morning try and include these:
- Set your alarm and get up when it goes off, no matter how you feel. Don’t think, just do.
- Drink some water.
- Look at the light – get daylight to your eyes as soon as you can – it will help your circadian rhythm and ultimately your sleep pattern.
- Move – a short walk, a few stretches, 1 sun salutation or a full-on workout.
- Breathe – deep breaths in the shower doesn’t add any time to getting out of the door.
- Plan – prioritise just one thing, no matter how small, that you will achieve that day.
4. Move. Regularly.
We all know what movement is good for us, and many of us are good at doing something a few times a week. The problem is that modern life can leave us a bit all or nothing. We might go full throttle at the gym for an hour, but then sit for the rest of the day – desk, car, train, sofa.
We need movement to keep everything flowing – the bloodstream carrying oxygen and nutrients, the detoxification process taking the nasties in the right direction, our digestion is helped by movement, and so on. It’s good for us – we were built to move.
Set an alarm every hour and be sure to move for at least 5 mins. That could be walking to the loo, the water cooler, making a brew. If you can get outside for 10 even better. Combine your deep breathing with it, and hey presto there’s 2-in-1.
5. Laugh Every Day
Yes, there’s a load of science here, but let’s keep it simple. Be sure to find ways to laugh every day. The very act of laughter is a mood and resilience booster!
Whether it’s 10 mins on the phone with your best friend, some silliness at the office, some games with your children or watching kittens on YouTube. Know what brings that smile and laughter and indulge yourself every day.
Don’t be Overwhelmed – just start with one change and take it from there.
Stay Resilient and Be Your Best You!