Stressing Out!

Stress, what a health sabotaging problem.  Even if we are eating healthy, stress can rob us of vital nutrients, lower our immune system and contribute to disease.  Our families, our jobs, the mortgage, money, being sick, everyday we have responsibilities and demands.  Dealing with stress is important so here are some tips to help manage your stress.  Find something that works for you to lower your stress!

  1. Deep breath is a great trigger for relaxation.  When you take a big breath, you stimulate the vagus nerve.  The vagus nerve runs from your brain through your chest cavity into all your organs.  Stimulating the vagus nerve signals the production of hormones that calm your nervous system, reducing cortisol.   Just take a few deep breaths for a few minutes if you feel yourself having a stressful moment.
  2. Practice a form of relaxation from proven tools like yoga, meditation, tai chi, qigong, biofeedback, playing music.  There was a study once done on people 65 and older studying the incidence of stress and shingles.  (again relating stress to disease)  They took 2 groups and one group did their own things to reduce stress and the other group practiced tai chi.  The results were remarkable showing a large decrease in shingles outbreak among those who practiced tai chi.
  3. Vigorous exercise is also powerful.  It burns off stress chemicals, improves your mood by increasing dopamine (you have heard of runners high?) and serotonin, boosts your energy and reduces overall stress.  The better shape our bodies are in, the better we actually deal with stress.
  4. Connect?  Having a good social support is an important resource for dealing with stress.  Laughing and enjoying others company is a great way to de-stress.
  5. Use scents to decrease stress.  Essential oils can give you a quick pick me up or calm you down in stressful situations.  They have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal properties.  You put a drop of oil on a handkerchief and sniff throughout the day to relieve tension, diffuse it  into the air or apply to your wrists or back of the neck for a sense of peace and calm.
  6. Sleep!  Can’t emphasize that enough!  Get some good quality sleep!
  7. Eating foods that can help with stress.   Consider your state of mind when you start out your day with a bagel and a cup of coffee compared to a hearty bowl of oatmeal or a power smoothie.  Foods make a difference!  Here are some foods to include:
    1. Don’t eat simple carbs.  The more sugar intake the more heightened your stress is and the weaker your immune system gets.  Eat complex carbs instead.  They actually help you make serotonin and help stabilize your blood sugar level.  Oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice or quinoa are great complex, whole grain carbs.
    2. Foods high in vitamin C.  Citrus foods contain a lot of vitamin C but so do red bell peppers and broccoli.  Studies have suggested that this vitamin can curb levels of stress hormones while at the same time increasing the immune system.
    3. Eat more leafy greens.  They contain magnesium which can help you relax.  Magnesium is the most critical mineral of all for coping with stress.  Stress related diseases like heart attacks and high blood pressure are often accompanied by magnesium deficiency according to Dr Leo Galland.  Too little magnesium can also trigger headaches and fatigue which can magnify stress.  Other foods high in magnesium are nuts and seeds, some fish, beans and lentils, whole grains, avocados, bananas, dried figs and dark chocolate.
    4. Omega fatty acids.  Eat fish, flax seeds, help seeds, walnuts as omega 3 fatty acids can prevent surges in stress hormones and help protect against heart disease, depression and inflammation.  Fish and whole grains are also full of B vitamins which aid in feel good hormones.
    5. Drink tea!  Black tea can help you recover from stressful events more quickly.  It appears to help lower cortisol.  Green tea increases the brain’s output of relaxation inducing alpha waves and reduces the output of tension making beta waves.
    6. Dark chocolate.  One of the most potent endorphin producing foods, chocolate contains more than 300 different compounds, one of which mimics a drug effect, giving a feel good feeling.  You only need a small amount!

Try one out or try them all out.  Find what works best for you.  If you need some guidance on dealing with stress or want to help your body be as healthy as it can be so you can deal with stress better, contact me at (1)