Let's talk about Stress Baby .....
"I try to take one day at a time but sometimes several days attack me at once" Jennifer Yane.
I'm stressed!!! ... how many times have you felt stressed or pressured lately . For most of us , feeling stressed seems like a permanent state of affairs and the demands on us don't look like slowing down anytime soon.
We all need stimulation and getting out of our comfort zones from time to time is good for us but each of us has our own comfort level of stress , after which , it can start to affect our health.
In this blog I want to explain what impact stress has on the body , what can happen if we are continually (chronically ) stressed and what we can do about it
What does stress do to me ?
When you get stressed , 2 chemicals are released into your blood , adrenaline and cortisol. They do a number of things including
Raise our blood sugar
Shut down our digestion
Increase blood pressure
Suppress the working of our immune system
This is all designed to help us deal with the threat or get as far away from it as quickly as possible ! Great stuff so far .
The stress reaction uses up a lot of our nutrients and puts a strain on various organs in the body. As you can imagine its not supposed to be a state that we get into on a regular basis but in today's world that's exactly what happens again and again .
Work pressure , relationship problems , arguments , pressing button 20 on the automated help line and still getting cut off , watching a scary film moving house , changing jobs , illness either you or a loved one , money issues , feeling isolated , the list of what stresses us is endless .
Perhaps less well known is that missing meals, tea, coffee, alcohol (1 unit can help you relax but after that it's a stressor ), chocolate, excessive intense exercise (more than 3 times a week) and smoking all stimulate the release of adrenaline which kicks of a stress response in our bodies.
Whether we feel it or not , the body reacts the same way to all of the above triggers.
What happens if I am always (chronically ) stressed
Eventually the adrenals get worn out by having to react so much and this can lead to various symptoms such as:
fatigue (you can barely drag yourself out of bed)
low mood /depression
lack of get up and go (nothing is as much fun anymore and you cant face working through your to do list or socialising )
weight gain ( your thyroid, that controls the rate we burn calories, can be affected )
Insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes. (cortisol increases blood sugar levels which increase amount of frequency of insulin which can lead to insulin resistance )
OK so what can I do about it ?
I'm sure you have seen advice like adopt a more relaxed attitude, take on less commitments , learn to say no , meditate etc .
That is all great advice for the longer term but if you are either are too stressed to face doing any of that or you are in a position where saying no and reducing commitments isn't an option right now, here are 5 quick tips for managing stress.
Balance your blood sugar
eat breakfast - A breakfast with good levels of protein helps balance blood sugar , give you energy and focus so you are less likely to trigger a stress response . A coffee and a croissant is like an accelerant to your adrenals , don't go there
always eat lunch and dinner that has some protein and some fat - and avoid snacking unless you are hungry
Stay away from the coffee , alcohol and sugary stuff
I know, you need it to feel better but it's making things worse
snack on nuts like cashews, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, cream cheese on crackers , protein bars
drink fizzy water, decaffeinated coffee, green tea
if you do have alcohol - have it with food, not on its own
Read or watch something that makes you laugh
it might be a clip from youtube ,a film, comedy show, cartoon or funny saying. . Laughter releases feel good chemicals that calm the stress response
Breath deeply a few times
slowing down your breath lowers the stress response - so breath in , hold for 10 seconds if you can (but less is OK) , then breathe out. Repeat this a few times until you feel calmer .
Consider taking supplements - Magnesium , B vitamins (especially B5 and B6) , Vitamin C and Stabilium .
Magnesium , B vitamins and vitamin C are used up rapidly when we are stressed
Magnesium and B6 helps balance our blood sugar
Stabilium contains Garum Armoricum (GA) . Romans gave GA to legionnaires on long forced marches to help increase their stamina and endurance
Consult someone qualified before taking supplements , especially if you are on any medication and take care on dosages as too much magnesium can impact your calcium levels