Feeling stressed is normal,and unless you're the Dalai Lama you probably experience daily stress. What's important to know is there are two types of stress: acute stress (temporary, i.e., losing your keys) vs. chronic stress (constant, i.e., your work environment). Chronic stress can sabotage all the hard work you put into being healthy, so it's important to recognize if you are chronically stressed so you can make changes!
Stress's effects on the body:
- Negatively affects digestion
- Depletes our body of nutrients
- Weakens the immune system
- Raises our blood pressure/heart rate
- Affects our mood
- Alters our ability to think clearly
- Causes inflammation in the gut which is the root of many chronic diseases
- Triggers emotional eating
5 Ways to protect yourself from stress:
- Become aware of your stress triggers. Keep a journal for one week and record every time you feel stressed. Record what's triggering your stress.
- Learn to reframe anxious thoughts and take control of your environment. Practice reframing anxious thoughts. Rather than thinking, "I can't believe I overslept and am running so late to work," you need to reframe to "I am in my car driving to work and all will be OK." Continue to repeat the reframed thought and you will feel yourself relax. Control your environment by spending less time around those who stress you out, say no to people and work on improving organization and time management.
- Strive to consistently get six to eight hours of sleep. If you're lacking in the deep sleep department, try sleeping in a dark cool room, stop looking at screens 30 minutes before bed and experiment with lavender essential oil or an epsom salt bath before bed to relax.
- Exercise at least four times a week. Exercising can be as simple as a yoga class or walk outside. Deep breathing exercises can also help you de-stress. I highly recommend Dr. Andrew Weil's four-seven-eight breathing exercise.
- 5. Eat a clean diet and stay hydrated. Include foods rich in B vitamins (grains, beans, avocados) and C vitamins (citrus fruits, kiwi and bell peppers) in your daily diet. Stress dehydrates the body and dehydration creates stress (not a fun cycle to be in). Our body is mainly made of water so staying hydrated is very important to function properly.
Lindsay Hunt is a Certified Health Coach in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is dedicated to helping people make healthy lifestyle changes that produce real and lasting results. You can work with Lindsay from anywhere as she offers virtual health coaching programs. For more information check out her website, www.walkonthehealthyside.com, or you can follow her on facebook.com/lindsayehunt.