As a registered dietician, every time I begin a talk or a client session with "better nutrition is actually simple" I get looks that range from incredulous, to hopeful, to (frankly) pissed off. Read
Everyone experiences stress at some point in life. Whether it's from working too many hours, a career that lacks passion, worries about finances or the economy, a sick family member or relationship troubles, stress will find its way into our life.
With illness on the rise, stress is often the biggest culprit.
If you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, it's time to boot stress out of your life:
- Irritability, agitation or short temper
- Negative feelings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sense of loneliness and isolation
- Feeling hopeless
- Mental fogginess or forgetfulness
- Poor concentration
- Poor judgment
- Pessimistic mindset
- Racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Poor problem solving ability
- Loss of appetite, binge or emotional eating
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Feeling the need to use alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (i.e. nail biting, pulling out your hair, pacing)
- Speaking negatively of yourself
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Digestive issues
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or palpitations
- Loss of interest in sex or low libido
- Frequent colds
- Increased belly fat
- More fat around your face or a rounder appearance
- Weight gain
- Migraines or headaches
- Chronic illness such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol
- For women: painful menstrual cycle or hormonal imbalance
As you can see, stress produces a wide range of negative effects on our minds and bodies. Here are eight tips to help you overcome the problems stress may present in your life:
1. Make “me-time” a priority.
Carve out 30 minutes to an hour daily. Schedule it. Use this down time to take a nice hot bath with dead sea salts, essentials oils and your favorite natural bath products. Light candles and play soothing music. Give yourself a massage with coconut oil. Give yourself a facial. Finish off with a mani-pedi. This isn’t just for the ladies. Guys, you can do this too.
2. Say no to others and say yes to yourself.
Overextending yourself is the fastest way to accrue stress. Saying no doesn’t mean you aren’t helping others. It means you're saying YES to yourself and respecting your own needs. If an invitation comes up that makes you say, “meh,” skip it. If someone requests something from you that feels too heavy, not aligned with your present focus or doesn’t make you feel resourceful, pass on it. As an added bonus, this frees up time to do things you actually enjoy.
3. Allow nature to re-energize you.
Spend some time in the sun’s healing rays. Ground yourself by walking barefoot on grass or sand. Spend some time in ocean water. Get plenty of fresh air and breathe deeply. Spend some time stargazing or watching the clouds. Hug a tree. Plant a flower garden. Grow your own food.
4. Do something fun and adventurous every day.
Even with a busy schedule, you can find 30 minutes to do something fun. Be creative with your time. Create a bucket list while you’re on the toilet or in between calls at work. Begin checking off those items each day as you try new things. When time is more available, do the bigger things you wish to accomplish.
5. Ask for help.
If you need help with any of your daily tasks such as cooking or laundry, ask. If there’s a project at work that’s causing frustration, see who you can enlist to speed up the project. If you're bored or lonely, ask friends or family to spend time with you. If your back hurts, ask for a massage. It’s not that others aren’t willing to support you; you simply haven’t articulated your needs.
6. Let your plate heal you.
Plant-based food has natural healing components. Eat more plants and less meat. Use food as medicine and eat foods that reduce illness. Reduce or eliminate caffeine, sugar, gluten, alcohol, dairy, and soy, which are often the biggest culprits of diet-based stress. Swap out coffee for herbal tea. Try almond or coconut milk. Instead of sugar, try stevia, raw honey or medjool dates to sweeten.
7. Slow down.
Meditate for at least 20 minutes per day. Take several deep breaths. Close your eyes for a few minutes every hour. Resist the urge to tightly pack your schedule. Practice gentle and slow paced forms of exercise such as yoga, qigong and tai chi.
8. Reduce your time with energy vampires.
This includes people and technology. Identify people who drain your energy and distance yourself from them. Have one “unplugged” day every week with no television, phone, video games or internet. Reduce the amount of time you spend texting, emailing, working, updating your Facebook status message, and tweeting.
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