30 Jan I’m So Stressed!
We’ve all been there, right? Sanna Atherton, a Registered Nutritional Therapist, gives her top 6 ways to keep stress under control.
Managing stress levels is important for your health in the long term because stress is implicated in so many different chronic diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems and asthma.
If you’re thinking you don’t fall into the ‘I’m stressed enough to be making myself ill’ category, don’t be fooled. The drip-drip-drip of everyday stress can be as damaging as major life incident-related stress (such as death and divorce), so don’t wait to take action. It’s also worth considering that stress makes it very hard to lose weight, and you’re much more likely to store it around the middle. This is because the human body hasn’t evolved much since caveman times, when the extra energy was stored where it was most easily accessed, so it could be used to run away from the sabre-toothed tiger.
Effects of stress on the mind:
|Effects of stress on the body:|
|mood swings||muscle tension|
|agitation and irritability||increased heart rate/palpitations|
|anxious or racing thoughts||appetite fluctuations|
|loss of concentration and focus||disturbed sleep/insomnia|
|feeling tearful||increased blood pressure|
Here are my top 6 ways to keep stress under control:
- Eat regularly: Erratic eating times and skipping meals can lead to a dip in blood sugar levels, which leads to the release of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s difficult when a deadline is looming, or you’re travelling but try to stick to three meals (with two optional snacks) a day and your digestion will thank you for it. Base all your meals and snacks on protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans and seeds), fruit and vegetables and smaller amounts of complex carbs (brown rice, wholemeal bread or pasta).
- Cut back on alcohol and caffeine: I know it’s hard for a lot of people but try ditching (or significantly reducing) your alcohol and caffeine intake. Caffeine causes a release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands – the last thing you want if you are already stressed! At first, alcohol might help to relax you when you’re stressed out (by promoting the release of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter), but it is quickly metabolised to sugar that can lead to a restless sleep, which leads me onto my next tip.
- Guard your sleep: My friends laugh at my fierce protection over getting 8 hours of shut-eye, but this is the time where my body can finally get to work on blitzing infections, getting rid of damaged cells (especially cancerous ones) and rebuild vital structures in the body (e.g. joints, blood vessels, gastrointestinal tissues, new brain cells and lean muscle). Get into a sleep routine that includes relaxing practices such as taking a warm bath with Epsom salts, light reading or stretching. Introduce a digital detox at least an hour before bed (that means no phones, no TV, no laptops or tablets), so as not to disrupt melatonin production (the sleepy hormone). A light snack such as an oatcake with almond butter or a banana may help to support undisturbed sleep.
- Eat magnesium-rich meals: Magnesium relaxes the nervous system and muscles so eating foods rich in this mineral, such as leafy greens, avocados, sesame seeds and spinach can help reduce stress. I often help clients with herbs and other nutrients including ashwagandha, Rhodiola, theanine, medicinal mushrooms, high-quality multivitamins and amino acids to support neurotransmitter function. The best approach is to invest in some nutritional therapy for a personalised supplement plan, rather than trying to self-medicate, as supplements will only be effective if implemented alongside a healthy nutrition foundation and lifestyle guidance.
- The 10-minute mind trick: Set aside 10 minutes a day for meditation. Simply sit down in a quiet room with your back supported and eyes closed. Try to clear your mind of all worries. Don’t worry if thoughts bubble to the surface, as this is completely normal! The more you resist the more it will persist. Simply bring your attention back to your breath and continue until the time is up. If you’re new to meditation or need more support, find a guided meditation app, Youtube video or CD to lead you through the process.
- Get to the cause: Look at the root cause to any stress in your life and think about how you respond to it. If the effect of stress or life in general gets in the way of your efforts to stay healthy and you’d like to do something about it, please reach out for help – you can book a FREE 30-minute call with me at firstname.lastname@example.org