When someone asks you how you are – what’s your default response? That you’re feeling stressed?
It seems that in today’s busy world, stress is unavoidable but too much of it can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health.
So, what is stress?
Put simply, stress is a physiological response to a change in homeostasis (the normal balance maintained by your body). Stress comes in many different forms too – emotional stress, physical stress, environmental stress and chemical stress. However, regardless of the label, the physiological response in your body is the same. The stress response also occurs whether the stress is from a perceived threat or a real threat. That means that we have an excellent opportunity to mitigate the stress response in our body based on our perception of situations.
We were made to fight or flight… but not all the time.
To break it down even further, stress can be categorised into “acute stress” – like that feeling you get during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and “chronic stress” – from a poor diet, lack of sleep, overtraining, undereating, undiagnosed food sensitivities, chronic infections, toxicity and other detrimental lifestyle choices.
In a nutshell, acute stress is normal and even beneficial when elicited in the right amounts. But chronic stress is definitely something we should all be avoiding – especially if your goal is optimal health, balanced hormones, fat loss or remaining fertile (just to name a few!).
Keep chronic stress at bay with these simple strategies:
Follow an anti-inflammatory diet: This means a sugar-free diet, rich in vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit, properly prepared grains, healthy fats and adequate amounts of ethically sourced high-quality animal protein
Move everyday: Some days this should be structured exercise, perhaps some HIIT or resistance training, and other days it means just generally moving your body slowly. A balance is best.
Sort out your gut stuff: If you have gut issues then it’s important to work with a practitioner to get to the bottom (pun intended) of them. Food intolerances, parasites, SIBO and candida are all a source of chronic stress. Ditto if you have any chronic viral infections or heavy metal toxicity.
Clean up your environment: This means trying to minimize the amounts of chemicals that enter your body. Using glass instead of plastic, use natural personal care products, filtered water and avoiding cigarette smoke.
Find a stress management strategy and do it daily: Deep breathing, legs up the wall, meditation, yoga, singing into your avocado. Whatever works for you!
SLEEP: Oh sleep. SO important. Avoid blue light from devices before bed, sleep in a cool dark room, turn your wifi off, breathe through your nose, and get to bed by 10pm.
Connect, laugh and play: By nature, we’re drawn to connection. We’re not supposed to be alone. Spend time with like-minded people, find a community that resonates with you, laugh often and don’t forget to play.